Emotional marketing is much more than evoking emotions within a consumer — it is all about inspiring a specific and strong emotion within the audience. This emotion can be joy, fear, anger or trust.

The main goal is to build a strong and meaningful connection with the customer; by doing so, your brand will encourage them to take action.

Robert Plutchik, an emeritus professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, had a theory that humans have eight primary emotions.

"He arranged them in a wheel to emphasise the idea that emotions can blend with each other, like colours, to create new emotions," according to PsyBlog. This means that any industry will have a certain emotion they need to evoke and will be able to do so with a meaningful advertisement.

*Image sourced from ResearchGate

So, let’s get into the feels:

What exactly is meant when a creative agency says emotional marketing?

[To have a clear understanding of what is meant with emotional marketing, we need to take a look at the Hierarchy of Effects funnel.] At the top of the funnel, advertising’s job is to get noticed, remembered and place a product or brand into a consideration set.

The hierarchy of the effect model (below), which I really like, looks at the six stages of consumer purchasing behavior.

For the first four phases of the effect of advertising to work and to be effective, it must first and foremost stand out. Too often there are great ads that no one sees, [because it doesn’t evoke an emotion within the consumer.]

Once an ad is noticed, it has to evoke an emotion to work. If not, it will be ignored. As human beings, we are exposed to thousands of stimuli per day. The things that don’t grab our attention are easily disregarded or forgotten about. Without eliciting some emotional response from a consumer, I would argue that an ad fails.

However, some products or brands already possess that emotional connection with the consumer (your favourite shoe brand as an example). But then the job is slightly different and that’s when targeting and remarketing works at the conviction / purchase stage below.

*Image sourced from Market Maven

Do you think that emotional marketing still works on audiences today? Why?

Absolutely. I don’t think it’s ever going to change as the human psyche hasn’t changed. We buy what we like or feel for, or what makes us feel good. I believe comfort is an example of strong emotion and we tend to buy a lot of products out of familiarity too — especially in the fast-moving consumer goods world.

Big-ticket items, though, require way more emotional investment in the purchase and without emotional communication, the brand isn’t going to succeed. This quote from Bill Bernbach (from decades ago, mind you) sums it up:

It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.
What types of brands should make use of emotional marketing, and which ones should not?

I would argue that all [brands] should. Without exception.

How does the South African audience respond to emotional commercials and why do you think that this is?

Humour, ambition or motivation are intrinsic to all human beings. I don’t think where you are from matters. We respond to things that interest us.

Emotion is the key that unlocks that door, no matter where we are from.

How can brands in, for example, the financial industries, use emotion appropriately in their efforts?

One word: Insight. People aren’t interested in ads. They’re interested in what interests them and sometimes that’s an ad. There were some phenomenal ads by Standard Bank in the early 2000s that were full of emotion.

[Examples of these are] the Wild Dog or the ad with the student selling golf trophies in the rain to men who had spent too long at the club bar and needed an excuse when they got home. It was great work. Just because an industry may take itself seriously doesn’t mean the work has to.

Recently, we created the ‘We The Underdog’ campaign for Yoco that I believe has resonated well with the audience. It uses grit, determination and the hardships of entrepreneurship and small business ownership to motivate its audience. But it’s real, authentic and doesn’t sugarcoat the issues small businesses face — which is why I think it’s had a positive emotional response.

What advice can you give creative agencies when they enter a space of creator’s block?

Ask questions. Speak to the audience. Use the product. Eventually, interesting truths will find their way of presenting themselves. [Also,] stay away from puns.

What other benefits do you think emotional marketing carries? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you know the value of emotional marketing be sure to read Why EQ is a crucial part of marketing and how you can better your strategy.