Emotional Advertising: How Brands Use Feelings to Get People to Buy
AFFLUENCE IN MARKETING
If we take a look at advertisements all around, we will gaze upon the high life we always wanted to live.
Research, however, has found that average people have a hard time imagining themselves with this kind of lifestyle even though they may wish for it.
Most people’s success isn’t about luxury, houses, cars, etc. The thing for most people is to just get through the day and face everyday struggles without snapping.
Throw in a decent vacation once a year and they’re in.
Brands and advertisers are careful about who and how they’re targeting. They just seem to know how to trigger people.
Instead of relying only on luxury and extravagant life, advertisements more and more rely on simplicity and ways to use the products to make the life of the customers easier.
Stress is the silent killer these days so a great number of people are not chasing for the American dream anymore. They just want to get some peace of mind.
In order to win the hearts of customers, ads don’t sell them dreams. Instead, they sell them practical and down to earth, but comfortable life.
ADS CAN SNIFF OUR INNER FLUCTUATIONS
People don’t buy products, they buy feelings. Neuroscience professor Antonio Damasio claims that people are generally more likely to be guided by emotions than with reason.
Emotions instead of reason seem to cause us to make decisions. Customers could have all the logical reasons for doing something, but without the actual emotional benefits, people just won’t buy the products.
Of course, all of us like to think that we are logical and that we use reason.
That’s why we post-rationalize our emotional-based decisions.
That is just a fancy way of saying that we do or buy something and then we make a bunch of “rational” excuses for it.
After a while, we start believing that the excuses that we’ve made were the reasons for our behavior in the first place.
There is a subtle difference between wanting and needing.
We usually don’t buy what we need. Instead, we buy what we want or what we think we want and the whole trick of marketing is to convince us that we want the things we don’t really need.
Google it, it’s called consumerism. It’s the power supply of capitalism really.
Consumerism works by cause and effect of a brand. And what makes a certain brand a brand?
The answer is simple – status. It doesn’t even have to have the best products in the market, it just has to have the best marketing and the aura of prestige.
When a woman sees a Gucci bag in a store, it will outshine all the other options just because Gucci is a synonym for wealth.
Did you ever think about why that is so? It’s not just the quality of the product because then a couple of other brands would be Gucci as well.
No, it’s the exclusive character of Gucci being reserved for the privileged, upper class of society that makes you want to own its products and at least appear rich even though you’re not.
It’s the primal human instincts that consider wealth to be both the cause and the effect of capability. In other words, wealth is a symbol or an analogy of capability.
You don’t want to own a specific brand, you don’t really care for brands that much. It’s the augury of a social status that you want to exhibit. It’s the status and social privilege that you really want to have.
It goes like this: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
It’s our innate and inert nature rooted deep into our subconscious. We want to climb up the social pyramid. The higher we are, the more likely is that we’ll survive.
It’s basically a food chain where the products act as mere symbols of power that substitute for fangs, teeth, and muscles.
Most of the products on the market, especially branded ones are there to testify to our capability to fend for ourselves.
The logic is simple – the more expensive a product is, the more it proves of your facilities, resources, and provisions, at least that’s how our inert society instinctively interprets it.
Since we are social and symbolic beings, we seem to have found a way to translate our primal urges and give them symbolic meaning through social context.
The world’s biggest marketing experts and companies simply speak the language and address our subconscious through brands.
Think of brands as the alphabet of our instinctive cravings. Marketing experts know the language well and they thrive on our inner emotional fluctuations that come from fear, insecurity, desire, lust, empathy, love, etc.
It’s the subtleties that make the biggest differences in sales.
For example, one may have a huge house, but a dysfunctional family. If you want to sell a house to that particular individual, you’ll advertise for a home because that’s what he/she is really after.
The trick is to always know what your target audience is after.
By changing your audience’s perspective, you can motivate them to take action.
It’s just a matter of knowing which buttons produce which effects (what does this button do?) and which strings to pull.
It all comes down to psychology.
And many companies use brand ambassador programs to work with influencers.
ADVERTISING EMPLOYS SEVERAL TYPES OF EMOTIONS:
Happiness is the most frequent emotion in the majority of advertising. Actually, happiness is not just an emotion, it’s an ideal.
We can go even further to say that happiness a life goal of the modern man. A poorly defined life goal, but a life goal nevertheless.
Whether you’ll experience the emotion depends on the way you interpret that idea.
If we define happiness we can say that it is an integration of life, circumstances, and intentional activities.
There’s a bunch of research that found that happiness isn’t only based on material objects, it is deep and meaningful, not superficial.
A study done by the most-emailed New York Times articles found that positive ads were shared more often than negative ones.
People want to resonate with happiness and ads inspire them to share that feeling with their loved ones.
It’s not surprising that CocaCola’s motto “Taste the feeling” is associated with laughter, positivity, engagement, and warmth between family and friends.
The majority of Coca Cola’s ads relate to the feeling of experiencing joy in a moment because we all know how hard it is to be joyful for a longer period of time.
It is always some scene from the regular life of the millennial generation, the youth and the values that youth brings with it.
The ad taps into and creates an instant connection of the shown atmosphere and the product.
The people who consume the Coca Cola exhibit the body language of a joyful community.
It’s the usual conclusion drawn from commercials that you’ll fix the dullness of your everyday life simply by consuming the product.
The scenario comes down to two basic steps and they usually go something like this:
1. You are presented with an everyday problem that affects the bigger part of a population nowadays. For example, the actor in a commercial can’t find a girlfriend or overcome an obstacle (like an exam or something).
If they want to make it extra spicy, it’s not just an obstacle that causes you to be anxious. Instead, it’s a life-threatening situation.
2. You are presented with the solution to a problem in the form of a product. The actor in a commercial procures the product that marvelously saves the day and alleviates the problems.
An advertisement such as this instills the feeling of excitement and tension that they resolve with pleasure of consuming, victory and security.
What remains is the peace of knowing that whenever you find yourself in a difficult situation, you may overcome it simply by consuming the product. Nifty, huh?
You start associating specific problems with specific products and you have an “add to cart” imperatives all around. That’s the 1o1 on how to debilitate the society, but that’s a story for some other time.
Let’s get back to Coca Cola and its motto:
“No one can stop me when I taste the feeling, nothing could ever bring me down.”
The commercial tries to strike a connection with everything that is meaningful to the younger generation.
First of all, it features Avicii for crying out loud! Popularity breeds popularity.
Music, butterflies in the stomach, never wanting the day to end, being in love, leisure activities, chilling with the video games or in the park or… just chilling?
These are only some of the motives presented via the lyrics and the video that you associate with the product.
The video shows a kid being bullied over a bottle of coke, only to show him being protected by an older, friendly dude.
Remember what we talked about? 2 steps in commercial storylines. Tension and resolving them. Rings a bell?
This commercial instills a feeling of friendship and safety. The message that the video conveys to our subconscious minds is basically: “Drink coke to feel loved, accepted, connected and protected”.
Of course, that’s not the only message the video conveys.
Following are the scenes of partying and just having a good time, combined with the scenes of hardship and failures in life like arguing with friends, lovers, parents, falling, tripping, etc.
The lyrics keep you afloat though. The chorus repeats that nothing can bring you down.
Scenes of rising to the occasion accordingly follow. The diver and the ballerina who messed up perform perfectly and all the couples that broke up are now making up and making out.
A grand finale with weddings, flowers and a thousand splendid sunsets, roses, romantic snowfalls, etc. follows.
That’s how we were introduced with a very real hardship of life that can be overcome just by a simple purchase of an icy cold bottle of coke… in order to generate a happy ending… cause it’s not about them earning the big buck of course.
The effect of these kinds of commercials is the constant redefinition of what happiness is as if it can be achieved by completing some form of a checklist in life.
Advertisement often employs feelings of sadness to evoke empathy and understanding.
Usually, these kinds of ads go viral and often thrive on some social issues.
By doing that, they plead a moral cause of raising social awareness.
Popular “sadvertising” is created to motivate consumers to donate money or help in various situations, but can also be used to empower people.
Actually, it’s a twofold process. The thing you’re consuming is the idea that you’re a moral, noble individual because you contribute to helping those in need e.g.
By contributing they instill a sense of being privileged and different than those you’re contributing to.
The thing is that brands want you to cry (for others) and feel all high and noble for helping them while honestly, you’re just feeling grateful you’re not in the shoes of those in need.
Insecurities are mostly related to our physique and visual identities.
As Descartes has said: “Common sense is the best-distributed commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”
The thing is, we are rarely insecure about our intelligence, education and personal or spiritual values.
Our insecurities revolve around material and physical as they seem to have a direct influence on our social status.
Thus, cosmetic, makeup and fitness industries are selling the “look good=feel good” logic.
By “fixing” your appearances you fix the way others look at you and conversely, the way you look at yourself because those two perspectives collide and merge.
Your appearance impacts your sense of self which impacts your behavior which impacts the appearance. It’s a vicious cycle that only a product can break.
The ads want you to think that physique can be maintained by the application of products as though the way we look is not just an expression of who we really are and what we do in life.
The cosmetic industry aims to relieve you of the aesthetic effects that your behavior and choices have on your appearance. Cosmetics alleviate responsibility.
Let’s see how it’s done. There’s an innate urge in us to compare to others. How else would we get a clear picture of where we stand?
That’s where the aesthetic industry comes to manipulate your inner urges and instill a sense of inadequacy in you. They do that by presenting you with role models of perfection.
These role models often have overemphasized features that make you feel bad about your natural… endowment so to speak.
Then they show you the famous “before and after” picture that inspires you to think that the role models were once as average as you are now.
You’re met with the promise that you can achieve excellence if you pay for the product (or the service). You literally buy into that promise.
Think of the porn industry that presents you with unreal expectations of bodily proportions both in male and female population.
Think of the Hollywood red carpets and that surreal glamour and aesthetics.
Think of the fitness industry. The very word fitness implies that you are misfit the way you are and what you need to do something to fit into the society’s frame and definition of desirable and acceptable.
Beneath the insecurity that ads manipulate to sell their products, lies a vast space of fear. Fear of being a misfit and rejected by society is as primal as it gets.
Being rejected and ostracized once meant certain death and associating abandonment with death hasn’t left us since the dawn of our time.
The moral of this one is that the market wants you to feel like you need to earn and spend money in order to be accepted. They want you to feel like you’re not enough.
If you were fine as you are, how would they ever sell anything?
It’s not all that bad. There are honest examples of more moral cosmetic industries that nurture nature and have appreciation for it.
They do earn on the basis of the need to nurture what nature has given you, but then again, that sounds reasonable.
Anger makes people upset or annoyed. If employed correctly, ads invoking anger can provoke people to take some actions and reconsider politics, child abuse, environmental issues or injustice in any case.
It can also make people vote and believe that their vote can make a difference or that they have reasonable voting options and motives.
They are used to change people’s perspective on the above-mentioned phenomena or to answer important questions.
Always is one of the biggest feminine care products, and in their campaign “Like a Girl” manipulates social sex and gender-based injustice to attract attention.
The campaign started trending over the Internet to support women and deconstruct gender biased opinions, but also to sell products (probably).
The ad becomes viral because it reminds people that being “like a girl” isn’t necessarily bad or weak. The idea behind the campaign was to learn, grow and build confidence from the young age.
A lot of ads tend to deter people from harmful behaviors, smoking, alcohol or drugs. They promote change through the scary truth and encourage viewers to make a change for themselves.
Scientists have announced a new geological period in which human activity is dominated by their influence on the environment, climate, and ecology.
Global warming is the biggest problem that humanity faces nowadays. To raise awareness about the effect that it can produce, World Wildlife Fund printed ads about the effects of it.
The picture in the ad presents us with a frightening human face, that looks like a fish with an effective message: “Stop climate change now or your descendants could look like this.”
Because it is used correctly, this bizarre image can be very effective in the strategy of human behavior in the future.
The good news? We can do something about it. But we have to do it together, and we have to do it now.
Now you may ask what is it that they are selling with these kinds of campaigns.
One could say that there are socially aware justice fighters who don’t sell anything, but actually, it’s the ideology that sells these days.
First of all, they are funded by the parties that earn from these types of ideologies, no matter how benign they might be.
They also might sell the products, services, and programs to help counteract the effects that they’re warning against.
It’s apparent that market and marketing can find their way into the most benevolent and economy-disinterested campaigns out there.
Every day people buy stuff based on judgments and quality.
Many promotions are connected with the buyers, first to find what boost them, and later to sell. People don’t buy the product or the service, they buy a better life in some way.
Ads sell the idea that a product can make people more confident.
Without those insecurities, most products would not exist.
We always do better when we feel better. So, the writer on Macbook may come out as a better writer just because of the feeling that he can do better.
Apple has always been a master of advertising, starting with the iconic “1984” Macintosh personal computer commercial.
In the commercial unnamed heroine is running with a sledgehammer, which represents the coming of the Macintosh and in the same time-saving humanity from the “conformity”.
It was directed by Ridley Scott and introduced three decades of popular Apple products who are now leaders of electronics, software, and online services. Apple people are “cool” or ”trendy”, and they are into the latest stuff. There are people who have iPhones, and people who have the latest iPhones.
That is why the lines for the new iPhone are the biggest, and that feeling when you buy a new branded product cannot wait for a month. Sometimes it can’t even wait a day.
The companies have a tendency to make people feel less and sell you products in order to make you feel you’re more than you are.
Especially nowadays with social media, everyone is comparing their lives to others, and that emotion companies are using for manipulation.
Pride is good for consumers who want to feel that they made a good choice.
Because everybody has different desires, this emotion is very hard to please, but it is good for those who follow the fashion industry, any money-value purchase, or consumers that will be the first to try a new product.
If we see the Rolex marketing, most of the time people won’t see it is a Rolex, it is more a story about someone accomplishing something, and Rolex is the sign that someone has made it. That is because most average people don’t accomplish things. So ads want to sell you that feeling of power.
For example, Rolex uses simple words to represent itself:
“Why this watch? This watch is a witness. To words that moved nations. Its dared men, faster. Further. Worn by luminaries. Visionaries. Champions. It doesn’t just tell time. It tells history.”
The ad shows the most famous people, from Tiger Woods to Roger Federer, all wearing the same Rolexes, and there is not a mention of a product. A Rolex speaks itself, and the ad it there to mention all those people that changes history.
The point of it is wearing something that could witness some wonderful things that this watch plays a huge roll in.
In a new era of social networking, every person wants to belong or to relate to something, and the feeling of belonging can help people satisfy their feeling of safety that the group provides.
Many companies use this trick to make customers feel as if they are a part of a specific community.
Belonging to a group is like “we share the same traits”.
We all know how men feel about football and gaming. Take an example of FIFA 15 TV Commercial, ‘The Play’ with Lionel Messi.
The action of the ad takes to play on the field and in the living room. We mostly see the gameplay action and FIFA 15’s, and the actor in the room behind the screen have the same skils as Messi.
When Messi hits the ball, the actor does it also. The point of the ad is that the team behind FIFA 15 wins using the balance of gameplay and live-action so that both players share the same qualities of the game.
TWO TYPES OF EMOTIONAL ADS
The first one is empathy. They are often showing children, babies, dogs, or anything that leads to a feeling of closeness and love.
The second is creativity. This can be achieved by the voice-over, storyline, visualization, and even the music. This creates a feeling of a modern and imaginative brand.
There are two key strategies to keep the audience involved. The ad must create surprise or joy right away. It also should build emotional ups and downs to ensure that viewers continue watching a video and keep it to the end.
WHAT MAKES AN AD MEMORABLE
An ad with a positive impact (joy, love, or pride) is called “positive” valence. On the other side is opposite and it is low vibrational or “negative” valence.
Studies show that the most memorable ads are the one with high-level arousal. It can be mixed with low emotions also, and make the rollercoaster of emotions to create a stronger effect.
Positive ones invoke pleasant associations in our brains, so we can get the conclusion that positive emotions last longer because our brain wants to forget the unpleasant ones.
ADS ARE THERE TO “SOLVE THE PROBLEM”
“How do you feel when…?” is the great question, because people will speak forever on that issue, and ads want to empathize with people to trigger them.
Feel>felt>found in the hierarchy of the selling.
1. Costumers feeling. The people can be often confused, so the look for trustworthy individuals to educate them on a purchase.
2. Advertising which tap into peoples feelings and empathize, showing that they can relate to a specific feeling.
3. Costumer find the solution because advertisers build the trust, so now they feel that they are making the right choice.
People are buying the transformation, they don’t just buy the end result. Brands actually create belief in them and sell hope.
Nowadays, when the technology rules the culture of communicating, advertisers are inclined to use feedback widget covers with the spectrum of emotions so they can rely on the opinion of their customers.
Advertisers know that people tend to feel strongly about something and give them a chance to express themselves, and at the same time help their brand to improve.
Popular emojis are the simplest way to reduce the whole spectrum of the feeling, or just one dimensional “like” or “dislike”.
It is a part of our global community to communicate fast, and leave the feedback with one tap of the finger. Because emotions are reasons for people’s behaviors, it became natural to judge anything with just one click.
One of the most important threats to marketing efforts is not knowing how customers feel about the things that the brand presents. That is why they use simple ways of responding on an emotional level.
Their main question is: “How do you feel about this content?” Irritated/ bored/ confused/ neutral /interested /excited
To help the advertisers, customers can intuitively react to any content and share that they are engaged or interested.
The use of emotions in advertising is crucial to any successful business so make sure you know what you’re advertising for.