emotional advertising

Emotional Advertising: How Brands Use Feelings to Get People to Buy

Emotional advertising uses emotions to connect with consumers and encourage them to buy a product or service. This type of advertising appeals to the heart rather than the head, and it can be quite effective in leaving a lasting impact on customers. Informing your audience is important. You want potential buyers to understand what their problem is, and how your products or services can solve that problem. Unfortunately, people don’t generally make purchases based on information alone. It turns out that people are more prone to making emotional purchases than informed purchases. It’s why commercials consist of much more than an explanation of a product’s use. Instead they use emotional advertising to target the viewer.

It’s effective, and it’s why connecting with your audience on an emotional level will benefit your marketing strategy.

The Benefits of Emotional Advertising

emotional advertising

Targeting your audience’s emotions through your advertising efforts makes it easier for your audience to connect with your brand on a personal level. Purely informational advertising can be difficult for people to connect with. One of the issues with that kind of advertising is that the audience might remember the information you’ve provided, but not the brand itself.

Connecting to your audience using emotional advertising is important. Whether you’re pulling at their heartstrings or making them laugh, this makes your brand more memorable. Your audience is more likely to trust you if you appeal to their emotions because it makes your brand more relatable. It means that they’re more likely to engage with your brand, resulting in stronger customer loyalty even after you’ve closed the sale.

Not only does emotional advertising make more of an impact on audiences, but it also makes your content more shareable. Nobody is going to share a video or a blog post that is purely informational. However, they will share something they find funny or uplifting. It makes it easier to increase brand awareness.


Read more on Integrating Storybranding With Your B2B Marketing Strategy

Examples of Emotional Advertising

The following are just a few examples of how different emotions can be used to connect with your audience:

  • Happiness
    Making an audience feel happy is a good way to develop brand association. It also makes them more likely to share your content. They will want to share that happiness with their friends and family. Coca-Cola has been running campaigns that make audiences feel happy for decades. From their iconic “I’d like to buy the world a coke“ to their “open happiness” tagline, Coca-Cola is a great example of this type of marketing.
  • Pride
    Appealing to your audience’s sense of pride makes them feel good about themselves as well as about your brand. A great recent example is of Nike’s Kaepernick ad, the tagline of which read “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
  • Fear
    You don’t always have to appeal to the emotions people like. In some cases, fear can be a very effective emotion, especially if you’re trying to drive audiences to take immediate action. The WWF created a campaign using fear to drive the importance of stopping climate change. The ad read “Stop Climate Change Before It Changes You” and showed a man with the head of a fish–a terrifying image.
  • Anger
    Anger is an emotion that brands can use to get their audience to side with them over an issue. You’ll notice many political campaigns focus on generating anger for emotional advertising. They highlight aspects of their opponents their audience should be angry about, thereby aligning their audience with them.
  • Greed
    We live in a consumer society. As such, people tend to want the newest and latest of everything. Although greed tends to have a negative connotation, it’s an emotion commonly leveraged by businesses by advertising limited editions and collectible items as well as using short-term promotions and sales. Such a strategy incorporates both greed and fear since people will make a purchase based on both desire and fear of missing out.
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How To Implement Emotional Advertising

Getting your audience to feel a certain way can be an effective way to engage them. However, eliciting specific emotions can be more challenging than you realize. First of all, just because you’re targeting a certain emotion doesn’t mean that your audience will feel the way you want them to.

Secondly, if you go too far (especially when it comes to anger, fear, and sadness), it can backfire. Your audience could end up becoming upset with you as a result. Take for example Pepsi’s infamous commercial with  Kendall Jenner. The idea was to elicit feelings of hope and happiness in the audience. Instead, it resulted in controversy and outrage towards Pepsi.

With that in mind, if you plan to use emotional advertising, you should keep the following tips in mind:

1. Understand Who Your Audience Is

You can’t elicit real emotion from someone unless you know who they are. For example, you can’t just go up to a stranger on the street, tell them a joke, and expect them to laugh. You don’t know what their sense of humor is like, after all. The same goes for advertising. You need to understand who your target audience is. It’s why you should develop buyer personas.

Buyer personas help you pinpoint the fears, needs, desires, and demographics of the various segments of your audience. If you know what their specific fears are, it becomes easier to create ads that leverage those fears. Knowing who your audience is will also make it easier to identify what makes them happy, angry, and sad.

2. Use Storytelling To Create Emotional Engagement

For an audience to feel a lasting emotion, they need context. For example, a picture of a baby might make people feel happy, but they won’t know what they’re happy about. As such, that feeling will be fleeting. However, if you tell a story that provides context, it will make a bigger impact.

For instance, maybe the baby was adopted by a couple who have been trying to have a baby for over a decade. Within that story, you present two main characters (the couple), a conflict (inability to have a baby), and a solution (they adopt). Audiences will relate to those characters and their conflict. As a result, they’ll feel an emotion that they understand and that will last.

3. Make Sure You’re Being Authentic

Nobody likes it when someone is trying to manipulate the way they feel. Audiences are smart and they can see through companies that are inauthentic.

Again, consider the previously mentioned Pepsi ad. Audiences immediately felt that the ad’s message of “can’t we all get along” was inauthentic and tone-deaf, especially at the time it ran. If you want to elicit authentic emotions from your audience, you need to be authentic yourself.

As you can see, emotional advertising can be extremely effective when done right. This means using attraction marketing and story branding ensures your audience will emotionally connect with your brand.