Ads That Make You Feel Something

The need for reassurance and comfort is the zeitgeist of our time, and brands that stand for stability, connection and kindness are more important and in demand than ever. 

Many brands have entered the marketing fray with emotional messaging designed to make people feel rather than directly sell a product or company message. It’s a good strategy for certain brands, as studies confirm consumers rely more on emotion than information to make brand decisions.

According to the Disney Institute, emotionally engaged customers are at least three times more likely to recommend a product, three times more likely to re-purchase it, and less likely to shop around. Another study from Gyro and The Fortune Group found 62% of executives often rely on gut feelings and soft factors when making decisions, rather than hard facts and figures.

Success in the world of emotional advertising demands brands understand who they truly are, who they want to be, what conversations they want to have, and how their personification, or voice, will help connect them to consumers. The challenge for brands who want to use emotional advertising is standing out in the crowd. The way to do this is by having an authentic message that stays true to the brand and is consistent in voice.



Authenticity, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. When companies use emotional advertising, they must be true to who they are as an organization because consumers easily sense the disingenuous. Brands must approach their personalities and identities uniquely, understand their internal strengths, external realities, and find an intersection memorable and relevant to the consumer. 

Consistency also leads to success in emotional advertising. The creative may evolve, but the underlying message and tenant of what a brand says or does, remains the same. Take Wendy’s’ voice on social media. It’s a consistent, albeit snarky, personality. The fast-food giant really (and authentically) engages with audiences because of that voice, even though it’s voice by committee. It’s a home run for a corporation to have conversations with a consistent point of view expressed through a personality that has a bit of an attitude. But even with a positive and affirming voice, the consistency is the key. 

Some brands use found footage that speaks to what they’re trying to convey without having to manufacture moments. Others use celebrities as a voice, but to varying degrees of success. Many consumers already have a jaded perception the celebrity doesn’t actually use the product they're talking about. So, ads that make lightly fun of that or acknowledge that truth up front tend to do better. People need to feel the celebrity is there for a reason beyond associating their fame with the brand. 

No matter the brand, emotional ads must reflect the services, culture or product an organization offers, and serve it up in its truest form. I don’t think of it as formulaic. But working with talented creative, leveraging what’s true about an organization, and then finding a way to communicate — that is a great start.

1 comment about "Ads That Make You Feel Something".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, May 23, 2018 at 11:31 a.m.

    On the use of celebrity spokespeople...there just might be a reason why most "successful" Super Bowl ads use celebs and humor.  On emotional appeals...I recall more than a few focus group participants saying, after screening a few spots and asking about their emotional reaction, things like "I have emotions for people, for pets, for my religion...but not for a skin lotion or jar of mayonaise" or "when I say I love my car, I don't mean like, real love...I like it because it's cool and doesn't let me down." 

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