Emotional advertising often gets a bad rap. “You’d be so happy if you had this new multi-function blender in your life.” “You’d feel less anxious if you had this home security system.” “You’d be less lonely if you got this mouthwash”. It’s a mainstay of the advertising world, and done wrong, emotional advertising can come off as tacky, confusing, or patronising.

But surprisingly enough, the facts paint a totally different picture. Studies in marketing and psychology are showing that emotional advertising is far more effective in converting customers than purely rational campaigns. Done right, emotions are an incredibly powerful tool for drawing in an customer base that will stand by your brand for a long time to come. How can this ‘feelings’ stuff work for my brand, you ask?

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1) Increasing brand recognition

It’s a widely researched fact that emotions are capable of producing memories that stick with us for far longer than normal. Studies in psychology on the influences of emotion on learning and memory show that “emotional events are remembered more clearly, accurately and for longer periods of time than are neutral events” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573739/). This means there is strong potential for emotional advertising to stick in the viewer’s mind for far longer than fact-based campaigns.

 

2) Higher brand loyalty and connection

Depending on the type of emotion used, this can also create a visceral association between the brand/product and the feelings evoked from the ad. Think of brands you still associate with warmth and comfort purely due to the TV advertisements you saw as a kid – it’s likely warm colours, soft music, and sentimental dialogue were used to purposely evoke happy, nostalgic emotion that would have you recalling the brand for years. When used effectively in video advertising this kind of positive emotion can transfer to the brand image and result in more empathy from the viewer in later interactions with the brand.

 

3) Stronger conversions/decision making power

On top of increased memory ‘stickiness’, emotional advertising is also a powerhouse for converting apathetic viewers into connected customers. From the Influences Of Emotion study, it was found that, “Emotion has a particularly strong influence on attention, especially modulating the selectivity of attention as well as motivating action and behaviour” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5573739/). With the potential to affect how customers act and behave, the ramifications for using emotions in advertising are huge.

This is largely due to how emotions affect our biases and impulses. To put it simply, we’re steered toward things that we perceive will make us ‘feel good’ and compelled away from things that make us ‘feel bad’ due to our survival instincts. To the primitive mind, feeling good equals health, fulfilment, and better odds of a long life. By tapping into an emotion that makes the viewer feel good (or take action against feeling bad), emotional video advertising prompts a more proactive, long lasting response than one based on a list of logical benefits. It’s no surprise then that marketing case studies show “emotional campaigns are the most effective and outperform rational campaigns in terms of increasing penetration, sales and market share in the long term” (https://www.marketingweek.com/getting-emotional-about-advertising/).

 

4) Increased community around your brand

Building a community around your brand has always been important in building a loyal customer base, but it’s become especially crucial in the last 15 or so years with the advent and rise of major social media platforms. While the internet has connected us commercially for much longer, social media has become the virtual source for interaction and community fulfilment. Paid video advertising taps into this social hub, bringing brands directly to where their target audiences are gathering.

But simply being there isn’t enough, and a community won’t build itself around your brand if you aren’t capable of standing out or offering value. By using emotions in your campaign you provide a common ground for your followers to come together – to share in celebration, to seek emotional support, or to rally together for action. Coupling your paid video advertising with an active place for your community to gather online creates a perpetual motion machine, where the emotional spirit of your brand inspires the customer, who in turn inspires other customers through interaction, who in turn inspires the brand to create more valuable content and gain an increasingly engaged audience. 

 

5) Increased viral response

On top of building a community directly around your brand, emotional branding also encourages outward reach. In a nutshell, strong emotions makes us want to spread the word. Happiness promotes sharing, outrage prompts action, and sadness triggers empathy and support. People love to be the one in the know, the bearer of good news, or at the forefront of the latest social movement. Emotional advertising taps into this innate need to connect with others and places your brand as a waypoint for those wanting to share the values you convey. Video advertising works doubly well for the sharability factor, because it uses a format that’s already highly sharable, quick to view, and easy to create buzz around with reacts, comments, and one-click sharing to viewer’s social feeds.

 

Wrapping up: Using emotions effectively in paid video advertising

Getting emotional advertising right is where things can get tricky. It’s crucial to back up your emotional message with logical value and credibility to prevent from dipping into the pool of shallowness. By combining emotion with reason and authority, we complete the rhetoric triangle Aristotle developed to describe the elements of persuasion: pathos, logos, and ethos (https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/ethos-pathos-logos/).

It’s also important to align your emotional message with your brand’s overall values. People are especially hostile to insincerity, and once you’ve appealed to a viewer’s emotional response it can be a doubly disappointing blow to leave them with empty words and no real value. Video production companies who know their stuff (like, oh say, Explanimate) are well-versed in guiding brands and agencies through the process of developing paid video advertising with the right message, value, and emotion in mind for each brand.

Written by Maree Railton.