Why does emotional marketing work?


January 31, 2018

A campaign that gives people the “feels” is the most powerful tool any brand possesses. The facts say that the most effective advertisements don't just appeal to reason, they appeal to emotion. But why is it that the best adverts aren’t simply about evidencing the best product?

It’s in our makeup to share emotions in order to form connections with others; as babies we learn to respond to our mother’s smile with a smile of our own, this ‘social smile’* teaches us that our own joy increases when we offer it to others because it forges a bond between us. Not surprisingly same thing happens when we communicate online; we want to share videos and images online because we're not just sharing the object, we’re sharing the emotional response it creates.

So, for advertisers the worst response you can to a campaign get is no response at all - If the viewer feels nothing, they’ll do nothing.

The science…

Our brains make decisions using two different systems. System 1 is the older, ‘reptilian’ brain; a perceptual, intuitive, emotional, unconscious system, generating involuntary impressions that do not need to be expressed in words. This system is fast to react, automatic, associative, effortless and learns gradually over time. System 2 is the more recently evolved, ‘higher order’ brain, the cognitive, analytical, clever part that we rightly praise and which separates us from other animals. But here’s the rub for marketing and our understanding of consumer decision making. These systems are far from equal.**

Basically, we think much less than we think we think. By nature humans make the vast majority of decisions using intuition and emotion.

Psychologists such as Damasio state that emotions are an important component of System 1 judgements, influencing not just what we pay attention to but automatically channelling our subsequent thoughts and associations, these intuitive responses simplify decision making and guide the judgements we make with our hearts rather than our heads.

When marketers taps into System 2 they use tactics based on fact (persuasion, brand association etc) and while it’s possible to produce a positive return on investment (ROI) using this approach but it’s just not as effective or efficient in market.

Who knew a drum playing gorilla what we really wanted to see?

Cadbury's 2007 Dairy Milk advert. Agency: Fallon, London

System 1 ads have little or no obvious brand message and yet if they move people sufficiently, they produce far greater commercial effects. One of the most commercially successful ads Cadbury has ever made had absolutely nothing to do with chocolate. Instead featuring a gorilla drumming hard to a Phil Collins tune provided this leading confectionery brand with a £4.88 revenue return for every £1 spent and it improved price elasticity by 27%.

Bottomline - Technology changes, but the brain doesn’t. If you want to get super nerdy then go and read more about The Affect Heuristic and its effects on both online and offline activity. But here’s the only bit you really need to know - If people feel more, they buy more. Positive emotion is still the primary goal of good content.

Want to find out more about about emotional marketing? Read all about the new tech that tracks emotions here or check out the top ranking adverts with feeling here at www.feelmore50.com/

*Research conducted by Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott**http://media.brainjuicer.com/media/files/Lets_Get_Emotional_About_Advertising_-_Contagious.pdf






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