EMOTION: Good for the soul. Good for sales.

This is the time of year when brands role out one of two kinds of commercials: the first is those annoying, hard-sell, mind-numbing commercials that try to get you to buy through too-good-to-be-true deals. The second is the kind we remember. The kind we share. And the kind that builds brand affinity.

According to NeuroScienceMarketing, advertising campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well as those with only rational content. Science has proven that we learn through narrative structure rather than facts, which is why storytelling is so effective. Apparently, our brains are hard-wired to respond positively to emotional content in a way that many of the most successful retailers have been leveraging for years.

Most would agree that the holiday John Lewis ads are brilliantly creative and emotionally compelling – but are they effective? I would argue that the millions of views achieved through people sharing on social media is worth hundreds of times the price of the production. Since 2011, the brand has been rolling out charming, nostalgic Christmas spots that promote the need for giving, hope and forgiveness. They truly know how to hit every one of our heart strings. One of my favorite examples is here:

You can see the whole series here.

If creating compelling emotional advertising starts with understanding your consumer, then stop calling them consumers and view them as people. Understanding their fears and hopes and dreams is a good starting place for crafting stories that resonate in a highly emotional way. Sometimes it’s a great story that’s based on a human insight we can all relate to. It can be crafted with superb casting and performance like this German commercial from Edeka that tells the story of an old man who misses his family and decides to do something drastic to bring them together:

But I have to think some of the most emotionally compelling stories are the real ones. Google tapped into this power with their real people campaign which demonstrated how Google could truly bring people together. My favorite spot in this series is the Reunion execution:

Granted, there will still be a need for more transactional messaging. If you’re having an 80%-off sale, your messaging should lead with 80% off. However, if you want to create real affinity for your brand that leads to loyalty and increased lifetime value, break out the tissues.

posted on
December 1, 2019
written by
Brad White