Emotional advertising tightens the bond and grows your brand



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When brand leaders say they want emotional advertising, I usually say “I can’t wait to see this emotional creative brief you wrote.” Without digging deep to understand the emotional space you should play in and the consumer insights that lay beneath the surface, your asking for an emotional ad feels like a random game of chance. To get emotional advertising that work for you, you must understand the emotional space that is motivating to consumers, and ownable for your brand, and then layer in emotion-based consumer insights.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in. 

Emotional advertising

Building emotion into advertising directly impacts a brand’s persuasion score

While brand leaders are always trying to find a winning claim, there is proof of a correlation between the feel-good emotions you create with both consumer persuasion scores and overall brand appeal scores.

Milward Brown advertising research finds a direct correlation between how involved consumers are in the ads with the degree of the positive emotional feelings your advertising evokes in consumers. The chart shows that as the feelings go from low to medium to high, the scores for both persuasion and brand appeal also go up.

Understanding emotional benefits

Do you understand the emotional space your brand can win?

Please stop writing briefs that say their brand is trusted, authentic, reliable and yet likable. From my experience, marketers are better at the functional than the emotional. Let’s try to take a rational approach to emotions. 

As a brand, you want to own one emotional space in the consumer’s heart as much as you own the rational space in the consumer’s mind. I have created a ‘cheat sheet’ with 9 major Emotional Consumer Benefits, that includes optimism, freedom, self-assured, being noticed, being liked, comfort, be myself, be in control and knowledge. 

To own a space in the consumer’s heart, brands should own and dominate one of these zones, always thinking relative to what zone your competitor may own. Do not choose a list of emotions from all over the map, or you will confuse your consumer. Use the supporting words to add flavor to your emotional brand positioning statement.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in. 

Narrow down to potential clusters of emotional benefits, by matching what consumers want and what your brand does best. Take 2-3 of the emotional zones from the cheat sheet above and then add 2-3 support words per zone to create a cluster.

Examples of Emotional Advertising

10 best examples of emotional advertising

Google "Paris"

For all the romantics, this is one of the most emotional ads I have ever seen. The ad tells the complete story through google searches, with a few surprises like the airline ticket, wedding bells and of course the baby. While it tells the story, it still manages to deliver on the emotions of  knowledge and control. 


To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Google "Reunion"

I wrote a story about this, and my article promised a Google ad that would make you cry even though it has not one word of English. Try it out. I remember this old P&G advertising guy who always said “you know you have a good spot if you can turn the sound off and still get the ad”. I watched this highly emotional ad without understanding one word that was spoken and I was able to follow along. And I cried.

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Google India

This Google India ad is a beautiful story of two older gentleman who were childhood friends and desperately miss each other. The ad shows how their two grandchildreen organize a reunion, using Google for looking up, finding, tracking or just checking any little details that makes us more knowledgeable and gives us an added sense of control. The Google searches are throughout the ad, but never seem to get in the way of the beautiful story.  Is it weird that two of the most emotional ads are from Google?

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Ram "I am a farmer."

Aired during the Super Bowl, it’s one of the most emotional ads I have ever seen. Using Paul Harvey’s storytelling hit a positive vibe with Farmers and Americans in general. The simplicity of the idea, yet storytelling at it’s best. They didn’t over-do the branding, but consumers get so engaged in the ad, they want to know who is it that’s telling this story. While everyone else is being loud, maybe being so quiet stands out. The ad nails the emotions of feel myself, supported by honest, down-to earth values. 

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Canadian Tire "bike ad"

This emotional ad from Canadian Tire ad makes me cry every time. We can all remember our first bike and how special it is. Canadian Tire is all about the emotions of comfort and being myself, supported by down-to-earth values, and feeling compassionate. 

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Nike’s “If You Let Me Play”

Nike released this inspiration way back in 1995, outlining the benefits of having girls play sports. Brands such as Always “throw like a girl” were inspired by this type of message. The Nike brand continually nails the optimistic and freedom emotional space. This is such an emotional ad.

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Bell "Dieppe"

Wow, a utility delivering an ad that gives you goosebumps. I have been to that beach in Dieppe and it does command such intense feelings. As you can tell from the phone at the end, this was in the early days of Cell phones, trying to link the idea of connecting anywhere. While this is just an ad, I do wish that utilities would try harder to connect with consumers at every stage of the consumer’s buying journey. This emotional ad does a great job in delivering feel myself supported by family values, honest, and down-to-earth. 

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Budweiser 9/11 tribute

Aired only once, only a few months after 9/11 the context of this ad is paramount to the emotion. An amazing salute, by the brand, to the heroes of 9/11. The emotional ad does a great job delivering optimism and freedom. 

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

P&G “Thank you mom”

Back in the 2012 London Olympics, P&G was making an attempt at a Master Brand strategy. This is a highly emotional ad, that is a nice salute to moms around the world, whether your child is an Olympian, or not. While the kids might be optimistic, the emotions P&G links to their moms are comfort, nurturing, and compassion.

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Always "Run like a girl"

The Always “Run like a girl” campaign is an inspirational and emotional ad that connects with true insight about the perception of how girls run changes as they hit puberty.  The ad starts by asking older teens and 20-somethings to run like a girl, and they depict a negative stereotypical overly feminine running style. Then, it asks 10-year-old girls to run like a girl, and they run in a highly athletic manner. It asks what changes to make the older girls see running as a negative. 

The ad challenges viewers to rethink their stereotypes. It inspires girls with an uplifting message to be themselves and encourages them to believe that, “running like a girl” is a good thing. The Always brand closely lines itself to the insights about the changes happening at puberty, just as moms and daughter will be choosing the feminine hygiene brand they will use. This campaign really delivers on optimism about a better future and the freedom from stereotypes. 

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Nike "Find your greatness"

Aired during the 2012 Olympics, this highly emotional ad was a very high risk but also ran counter to all the athlete ads. There are many types of motivation, for some of us, Michael Jordan is the inspiration. Not all of us are Michael Jordan. This kid running is the average person that gets out there and makes it happen. My hope is that it inspires you with optimism, to get out there and “just do it”, on your own terms.

To view, click on the arrow to play the ad.

Coke ads

Lessons from the best Coke ads of all time

Over the past 100 years, Coca-Cola has been the best advertising brand. Sure, Nike and Apple have battled for the best over the past 40 years, but they’d need to get to 2080 before challenging Coke. 

Coke ad

Apple advertising

What you can learn from the best Apple Advertising of all time

Apple advertising has delivered “simplicity” since the 1970s. Apple’s advertising has been relatively consistent for over 40 years and incredibly connected with consumers. You could build an Apple case study on the advertising alone. So we did!

Apple the crazy ones Tv ad explaining the Apple brand

Nike advertising

Our Nike case study looks at 30 years of 'Just do it'

Nike case study Kobe Air Jordan Advertising that sticks

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If you are looking to make your marketing team smarter, we can help. To get started, email Graham Robertson at [email protected]

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