Sunday, June 20, 2010

Successful advertisements – Do they touch the reason or emotion?

"Advertising is 85% confusion and 15% commission." - Fred Allen

Thoughts, Emotions and Beliefs almost 'drive' every individual's life. It won’t be exaggeration to say that emotions control many of the decisions. It’s not surprising to see many advertisements appeal to emotional desires more than logic, economy or utility. Emotional appeals work better at selling brands because brands are built in the minds and hearts of the users.

Fear, safety, security, hope, anxiety, love, distress, surprise, guilt, shame, interest, excitement, happiness, joy, anger, disgust, contempt or loathing, pleasure, self-esteem, sadness, amusement, peacefulness, grief, sorrow, trust, anticipation, depression, envy, frustration, sympathy, loneliness, embarrassment, horror, recognition, status, respect are various forms of emotions. There is an increasing trend of touching on these emotions to make ads connect with consumers. The basis for this trend is that if consumers connect with the ad emotionally, they are more likely to "hear" you out.

However, successful advertisers understand what the consumers like and what makes them go for their brand emotionally as well as rationally. If an ad evokes strong emotional response but does not provide sufficient information about the product, then it is unlikely to succeed. People need credible information to change their mind and opinion and if the ad does not provide that, it can’t change consumer behavior or increase the market share. This is underselling. Getting audience attention is the most difficult task and once you get that it is important to cash on it and if the deal cannot be closed after that, it is of no use. What’s the use of just building the goodwill and not able to increase sales?

In a nutshell, successful ads need to strike the right balance between generating emotional connection and providing sufficient information about the product. Effective ads need to communicate both the aspects flawlessly.


  1. I agree with this profound concept.Incidentally I dis-agree and differ, that advts are primarily driven by Emotional aspects.Yes emotions play a major role in the rural and low literacy areas, but amongst the intellectual and the globally savvy independant individuals, to say decisions are solely driven by Emotions would be to underestimate the power of intellect and the advertisement media.

    I must salute the plethora of words used to describe various forms of emotions.

  2. My understanding- there are 2 reasons to an ad succeeding. Mayyybe 3.
    1. Identify- Where consumers recognise n identify with a part of the ad, their life as without the advertised product (therefore induce the desire to change)
    2. Wannabe- They want consumers to identify with the part of the ad- what they 'want to be' as a direct result of having acquired n used the advertised product
    3. Viral- If the ad components are viral or sticky n therefore become popular, like Vodafone's zoozoo. [This third one falls in my 'maybe' category as I wldn't go buy a product just cos of its popularity quotient. But I know few peeps who might :)]

    The above reasons will determine if the ad is popular, effective or a flop. What you wrote about providing sufficient info on the product makes the difference between an ad becoming just popular, or popular AND effective. Now how the ad company achieves success differs. Depending on the product n target market they may appeal sometimes to humour or to love, hope, anxiety.. any or all of the plethora of sentiments u so correctly put :)
    So working moms identify with an ad whose storyboard includes working moms n kids having cereal for a quick n healthy breakfast. N then dads with kids for education fund/ retirement planning. Teenagers with being 'cool' as a result of using the product (or 'uncool' by not using it), college guys with impressing girls, grandparents with love n acceptance (with grandkids), business people with success n kids with superpowers. N then singular image ads that capture desire, such as a simple Merc logo implying luxury.

    Bottom line: While quite a few advertisers create fantastic n innovative ads there are unfortunately some who do exactly what few bollywood movie-makers are famous for- exploiting emotions. They assume consumers possess pea-size brains n deprive them of necessary info that assists in informed decisionmaking. Sometimes I am actually convinced they DON'T WANT consumers to make informed decisions. Which helps me decide against their product!

    David Ogilvy was an ad wizard n is famous for many quotes, one of the most popular: The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.

    Just my 2 cents :)

  3. I have a different opinion Radha. I think once your target market / target audience is selected for the product, the best way to connect with the selected audience is emotions.

    Based on this what happens is advertisers decide emotions to target and it is generally based on the target group / market segment to be focused.
    Let us take an example, ads for DairyMilk - 1)where the guy asks the girl at a bus stop where he offers lift, here "love" as an emotion is chosen, the target group is college going crowd.
    2)Ad where "khush hain jamana... for DairyMilk - here the emotion is celebration, enjoyment but the target market chosen are people who are salaried individuals.

    In the above you can see, the product is the same, the target market is different and hence the emotions targeted are different.

  4. @Manoj: While I also agree that only emotions driven ads cannot succeed, aren't we seeing many ads which do not describe the purpose at all and are still very popular? What would we call it? Are consumers looking at ads (especially TV ads) only from entertainment perspective?
    @Sheetal: Thanks for sharing David Ogilvy's quote :) Very nice. In complete agreement with what you have said. Probably the advertisers who bank only on emotion driven ads without caring much about the quality of the product make consumers like me more suspicious and go to various social medias to find out more information about the product!
    @Nachiket: Thanks for sharing the nice example of Dairy Milk ad (one of my favorites!). So are you suggesting that only emotions make ads successful?

  5. I beg to differ on this.. I feel successful ads are those which stay with you even after years. My fave currently is TATA AIA ad of Daddy and zooey.. it talks very little about the product but more about the emotion.. loved it and can watch it a million times without getting bored.. this is the ad.. watch it and decide for yourself -