Emotional Advertising – Speak to the Consumers’ Hearts

Emotion plays a pivotal role in everyday life. It forms the basis of our decisions, actions, and reactions. Keeping its significance in mind, its use in advertising cannot be ignored. It was found that in 2015, the most shared ads were the ones that contained emotional content, particularly that of inspiration, happiness, friendship, companionship, and warmth. Dan Hill, in his book “Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success” stated that emotions assimilate the same input as a cognitive brain in one-fifth of the same time. Emotional advertising and branding stimulate customer’s feelings, thereby affecting their decision-making process and perception. It also increases sale rates. 

It was found that customers evaluate a brand based on emotions rather than on rational judgment, linear thinking, and conclusions because emotional ads generate a deep and visceral impression. This article explains the advantages, elements, methods, and emotions coming into play in terms of emotional advertising.

Advantages of Emotional Advertising

Trend Hunter Marketing surveyed around 55 emotional marketing campaigns. It included advertising methods such as storytelling or a dog waiting for its owner. The study concluded that the medium popularity score for such advertising was 8.0, which was much higher compared to generic and flashy categories. 

They also produce high conversion rates. It was found by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising that the profit from emotional advertising versus ads based on rational content was 31 and 16 percent, respectively. The sales rate rose by 23 percent on ads that produced the best emotional response from customers. 

Various neuromeric tools are being used to evaluate cerebral responses in emotional advertising, such as facial coding, implicit response testing, eye tracking, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The context for emotional ads is an important element to consider.

Elements to Consider in Emotional Advertising

Emotional advertising is designed to induce desired emotions in the consumers to achieve their end goal, whether it is something positive like happiness and joy or negative emotions such as anger or melancholy. These types of brandings focus on the resolution and narrate a story or journey to relate to the customers. 

For example, the “Puppyhood” video by BuzzFeed and Purina was designed to advertise Purina’s puppy care website that contained detailed guides on how to raise a dog. The ad narrated the story of a man adopting a stray puppy. A narrative of companionship and friendship was depicted, as, in the ad, the formation of a strong bond between the man and puppy in his apartment was shown. This ad attracted over 10 million views on YouTube. 

The below-mentioned elements are crucial to consider in emotional advertising. 

Closeness and Creativity

Empathy by showing children, pets, and babies to generate closeness is the first tool. This is followed by creativity. Effective visualization, a powerful plot and storyline, and music are contemporary tools to achieve this. Showing ups and downs in the storyline can engage the audience.

  • Focusing on Tone in Emotional Advertising

Keeping in mind the intended reaction from the audience is an important factor to consider as misjudgment can lead to high levels of risk and can have adverse impacts. Adopting a poor tone or context may leave the impression of con artistry and fakeness on customers. 

A pharmaceutical company, Novartis, featured an ad about heart disease. The ad showed a man seated on an armchair and was oblivious of water flooding his room slowly. The ad was labeled insensitive, shameful, and terrifying by cardiologists, professors, and marketers. They stated that due to its poor tone, it was viewed as a subtle threat that was a means of manipulating patients.

  • Using Feedback

Feedbacks help consumers communicate while simultaneously helping the brand to research and collect data for successful advertising. Using emoticons or a simple like and dislike button can be used to implement this. Risks and threats on advertising can be minimized by conducting surveys using feedback and collecting the feeling experienced by consumers. Brands are then able to evaluate objectively and implement a successful ad.

  • Creating Impactful Ads

Ads that have high arousal levels are said to be the most memorable. Elements of negative and low emotions such as tension, sadness, stress, and anxiety can be a part of it. Inducing both positive and negative emotions can keep the audience engrossed. Positive emotions generally persist longer such as alertness, happiness, and excitement.

Hard Feelings

“Make Safe Happen,” an ad by Nationwide released during the most anticipated event, Super Bowl, starts by showing a young boy writing down the milestones of boyhood. But it is revealed that the boy is actually dead due to an easily preventable car accident. The ad was shown during an auspicious occasion. It was received negatively by viewers, and it was found that the company blindsided the audience’s emotional response for theatrical effect. This was perceived as highly manufactured and heavy-handed. 

Although inducing positive emotions in the audience is necessary for successful emotional branding, negative emotions are also a powerful weapon to deliver the brand’s message. However, the message must not be too straightforward and artificial. The negative emotions must be resolved. 

An ideal example is that of the “Unsung Hero” by Thai Life Insurance. The negative emotion depicted was that of poverty; however, it was resolved by showing a random act of kindness by the protagonist. The ad was a huge hit, reaching a whopping 27 million YouTube views. This ad was created by Ogilvy and Mather Bangkok.

Breakdown of Emotions in Emotional Advertising 

To increase the conversion rate and the number of clicks to a marketing page, various aspects have to be taken into consideration. Human emotions are one of them. Human emotions can be broken down into four fundamental types namely: happiness, sadness, fear, and anger/disgust. In terms of emotional advertising, the method to manipulate each emotion on a post-click landing page are discussed as under:

1. Happiness: New York Times stated that positive ads are shared more as compared to negative ads. Coca-Cola famously focuses on positive experiences associated with its products, such as the “Taste the Feeling” ad. The feel-good ads are generally very successful methods to induce happiness, and it is positively received.

2. Sadness: Companies are focusing on inspirational, emotional, and moving narrations. MetLife Hong Kong produced a sad ad showing a daughter explaining all the good qualities she admires about her father. But it ends with her describing all the ways he lies to her. The sad emotions moved the consumers. 

Ogilvy and Mather Bangkok were also responsible for creating “the best anti-smoking ad ever”, as coined by experts. The 2012 ad, “Smoking Kid,” depicted the consequences of a number of pranks when juvenile children approached smokers and requested them to light their cigarettes. The ad became a huge hit in around 30 countries. It also led to a 40 percent increase in calls to anti-smoking hotlines that help smokers quit their bad habits. The emotional ad used “sadvertising” by exposing the dark truths. To generate good content along with a good Return On Investment (ROI), companies have to display universal truths.

3. Fear: (Ignoring an offer at the moment can lead to regret). Fear makes a person believe that ignorance will lead them to lose or miss something. Brands must target a fatal area such as bankruptcy for an entrepreneur or the reduction in salary of a sales manager. Offering solutions after generating a subtle fear on the post-click landing page is a good method. Reminiscing the fear will persuade viewers to act and convert. Some ads deter people from engaging in self-destructive behavior such as smoking, drugs, and alcohol consumption by exposing the harsh and fearsome reality.

4. Anger: (Not acting swiftly can cause negative effects). Anger is associated with irate feelings and annoyance. It is associated with political campaigns, child abuse, child trafficking, environmental issues, harassment, and gender discrimination campaigns, amongst other pressing causes. It is used to change people’s perspectives and views. The “Always” brand makes use of gender discrimination to sell its product. It focuses on empowering women by invoking feelings of confidence. Their “Like A Girl” campaign won an Emmy, a Cannes Grand Prix award, and the Grand Clio award for its effective advertising.

Additional Emotions to Consider

A sales expert, Geoffrey James, stated that when making a decision to purchase an item, many emotions come into play. These include greed, fear, altruism, envy, pride, and shame. Their context in emotional advertising is discussed as under:

1. Greed: (More reward will be received on a faster decision). Greed makes a customer feel like they have gained something from purchasing a product, such as a free article from a generic “2 for 1” sale. This showed that customers wish to gain as much as possible in a limited amount of time. 

To stimulate this emotion, a one-time offer, a limited offer, or one that will expire soon (limited time offer) is a great way to attract customers. A countdown timer can further enhance this effect. Using the first person is also believed to have a much more convincing effect.

2. Altruism: (Making a swift decision will help others). Altruism can convince customers to purchase a product that will help people. This method applies to brands selling natural or green products, non-profit companies, or charities. The brands must highlight the ways they wish to help people, their cause, vision statement, mission statement, methods of implementation of the noble cause, and their aftereffects.

3. Envy: (The competitor might win on failure to act swiftly). Envy is caused due to competition and the desire to get ahead. For companies, it might be other businesses, but for individuals, it could be colleagues, friends, classmates, or competitors. Therefore, market research is important for this particular emotion. By highlighting the pragmatic and realistic benefits and listing the advantages of the product/services offered by the brand, a post-click landing page can be visited. False claims must not be made.

4. Pride: (Personal value will increase on making a swift decision)This emotion implies buyers who want to be seen as smart for purchasing a particular product. It is to show that the purchase was a good and ideal one. Market research is mandatory to comprehend customer’s desires for this emotion as well. People may feel pride in purchasing products cheap, buying a popular and best-selling item, or purchasing local and unique food items. 

5. Shame: (Bad feelings will be induced on not acting fast). Shame is in parallel with guilt. It must be used smartly and tactfully to avoid misuse of emotions. On a post-click landing page, a brand could either highlight the benefits of purchasing a product or highlighting the benefits it could give to the community. 

It works especially well for companies working for a greater and noble cause, such as World Wildlife Fund or Greenpeace. Their ads could display a horrendous situation and how it could deteriorate, thereby invoking shame and convincing consumers to donate to help the community. It should be coupled with the hope to prevent customers from becoming escapists and avoiding the post-click landing page altogether.

6. Insecurity: (Fear of being judged on not acting fast). Insecurity is associated with materialistic and physical things, which ultimately affect our social status. It is another factor in emotional advertising. Cosmetic, makeup, and fitness industries particularly make use of this emotion and highlight the “look good, feel good” logic. Their insecurities ultimately lead to fear of being a misfit or being judged by others thereby, simulating post-click landing pages.

The Final Analysis

As it can be noted, emotions are an imminent part of life. Their usage is highly conspicuous in emotional advertising by brands to attract consumers. The effects of stimulating emotions, particularly the positive ones, have shown an increase in consumer response. 

This article highlights the important emotions associated with emotional advertising, their effect, and productive methods to implement them. Keeping the audience in mind is an important factor, as misjudging and misunderstanding can be extremely detrimental to the brand’s image. 

The “feel, felt, found” phenomenon is used to attract the audience. Customers are initially confused about the product and how they “feel” about it. 

The company explains it by invoking “feelings” in them, whether positive or negative. Consequently, the consumers “find” their solution, and they make a final decision.


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