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Why You Should Get Excited About Emotional Branding

Globalization, low-cost technologies and saturated markets are making products and services interchangeable and barely distinguishable. As a result, today’s brands must go beyond face value and tap into consumers’ deepest subconscious emotions to win the marketplace.

The Role Of Brands Is Changing Link

In recent decades, the economic base has shifted from production to consumption, from needs to wants, from objective to subjective. We’re moving away from the functional and technical characteristics of the industrial era, into a time when consumers are making buying decisions based on how they feel about a company and its offer.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

BusinessWeek captured the evolution of branding back in 2001:

“A strong brand acts as an ambassador when companies enter new markets or offer new products. It also shapes corporate strategy, helping to define which initiatives fit within the brand concept and which do not. That’s why the companies that once measured their worth strictly in terms of tangibles such as factories, inventory and cash have realized that a vibrant brand, with its implicit promise of quality, is an equally important asset.”

I’d take it a step further and suggest that the brand is not just an important part of the business — it is the business. As Dale Carnegie says:

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.”

It’s Time To Get Emotional Link

In a borderless world where people are increasingly doing their research and purchases online (75% of Americans admit to doing so while on the toilet5), companies that don’t take their branding seriously face imminent demise.

Enter emotional branding. It’s a highly effective way to cause reaction, sentiments and moods, ultimately forming experience, connection and loyalty with a company or product on an irrational level. That’s the ironic part: Most people don’t believe they can be emotionally influenced by a brand. Why? Because that’s their rational mind at work. People make decisions emotionally and then rationalize them logically. Therefore, emotional branding affects people at a hidden, subconscious level. And that’s what makes it so incredibly powerful.

Neuroscientists have recently made great strides in understanding how the human mind works. In his book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, cognitive scientist Donald Norman explains how emotions guide us:

“Emotions are inseparable from and a necessary part of cognition. Everything we do, everything we think is tinged with emotion, much of it subconscious. In turn, our emotions change the way we think, and serve as constant guides to appropriate behavior, steering us away from the bad, guiding us toward the good.”

Emotions help us to rapidly choose between good and bad and to navigate in a world filled with harsh noise and unlimited options. This concept has been reinforced by multiple studies, including ones conducted by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, who examined people who are healthy in every way except for brain injuries that have impaired their emotional systems. Due to their lack of emotional senses, these subjects could not make basic decisions on where to live, what to eat and what products they need.

Recognize your emotions at play. Rice or potatoes? Saturday or Sunday? Say hello or smile? Gray or blue? The Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Crest or Colgate? Both choices are equally valid. It just feels good or feels right — and that’s an expression of emotion.

Emotions are a necessary part of life, affecting how you feel, how you behave and how you think. Therefore, brands that effectively engage consumers in a personal dialogue on their needs are able to evoke and influence persuasive feelings such as love, attachment and happiness.

Creativity Is Critical Link

What does that mean to marketers? Good ideas are increasingly vital to businesses. And that’s good news for creative professionals and agencies.

A Wall Street Journal article titled “So Long, Supply and Demand” reports:

“Creativity is overtaking capital as the principal elixir of growth. And creativity, although precious, shares few of the constraints that limit the range and availability of capital and physical goods. In this new business atmosphere, ideas are money. Ideas are, in fact, a new kind of currency altogether — one that is more powerful than money. One single idea — especially if it involves a great brand concept — can change a company’s entire future.”

As Napoleon Hill says:

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”

Emotional Branding In Action Link

Let’s look at some examples of branding and campaigns that go for the heart and, in some cases, hit the mark.

WestJet Christmas Miracle Link

WestJet Airlines pulled on heartstrings this past holiday season with a video of Santa distributing Christmas gifts to 250 unsuspecting passengers. The Canadian airline expected around 800,000 views but blew their competitors’ campaigns out of the air with more than 35 million views.

How the WestJetters helped Santa spread some Christmas magic to their guests. (Watch on Youtube6)

Coca-Cola Security Cameras Link

While surveillance cameras are known for catching burglaries and brawls, a Coca-Cola ad released during the latest Super Bowl encourages us to look at life differently by sharing happy, moving moments captured on security cameras. You’ll witness people sneaking kisses, dancing and random acts of kindness.

All the small acts of kindness, bravery and love that take place around us, recorded by security cameras. (Watch on Youtube)

Homeless Veteran Time-Lapse Transformation Link

Degage Ministries7, a charity that works with veterans, launched a video showing a homeless US Army veteran, Jim Wolf, getting a haircut and new clothes as part of an effort to transform his life. Degage Ministries told Webcopyplus that Wolf has completed rehab and is turning his life around, and that the video has so far raised more than $125,000, along with increased awareness of and compassion for veterans across the country.

A video of a homeless veteran named Jim, who volunteered to go through a physical transformation in September 2013. (Watch on Youtube8)

Creating Emotional Connection Link

While neuroscientists have only recently made significant strides in understanding how we process information and make decisions, humans have been using a powerful communication tactic for thousands of years: storytelling. It’s a highly effective method to get messages to stick and to get people to care, act and buy.

The stories that truly engage and are shared across the Web are typically personal and contain some aspect of usefulness, sweetness, humor, inspiration or shock. Also, the brand has to be seen as authentic, not manufactured, or else credibility and loyalty will be damaged.

I discussed the Coca-Cola video with Kevin McLeod, founder and CEO of Yardstick Services9, who suggests that most brands merely try to connect the emotions of a real moment in life to their brand.

“The Coke video is full of wonderful clips of people doing things that make us all feel good. I’m not going to lie, it got my attention and is very memorable. At the same time, I’m intelligent enough to see what Coke is doing. With the exception of the last clip, none of the “good things” in the video are related to Coca-Cola.

The ad primes us by making us feel good and then drops the brand at the end so that we connect those emotions to the Coke brand. It’s very shrewd. Part of me thinks it’s brilliant. The other part of me thinks it’s overly manipulative and beguiles a product that can’t stand on its own merits, of which caramel-colored, carbonated sugar water has few.”

McLeod puts forth sharp views about Coke merely stamping its brand on a video compilation, which could very well have been IBM, Starbucks or virtually any other company. However, while he consciously found the video to manufacture emotions, he still enjoyed it, stating that it makes us all — including him — “feel good.” So, despite McLeod’s skepticism and resistance, it still made an emotional connection with him. There’s the desired association: Coke = feeling good.

Folks make decisions emotionally and then rationalize them logically, therefore, emotional branding affects people at a hidden, subconscious level.

To get the most success in creating an emotional connection with people, stories should explore both brand mystique and brand experience, and the actual product or service should be integrated. A brilliant example is The Lego Movie10, released by Warner Bros earlier this year. The Lego brand delivered a masterful story, using its products as the stars. The brand got families and kids around the globe to shovel out well over $200 million for what could be the ultimate toy commercial.

Designers, developers, copywriters and marketers in general should take a page from moviemakers, including the late writer, director and producer Sidney Lumet. He gave the following advice on making movies: “What is the movie about? What did you see? What was your intention? Ideally, if we do this well, what do you hope the audience will feel, think, sense? In what mood do you want them to leave the theater?” The same could be asked when you’re developing a brand story: What do you want the audience to feel?

Even product placement, where everything from sneakers to cars gets flashed on the screen, has evolved into “branded entertainment.” Now, products are worked into scripts, sometimes with actual roles. A well-known example is in the film Cast Away, in which Wilson, a volleyball named after the brand, serves as Tom Hanks’ personified friend and sole companion for four years on a deserted island. When Wilson gets swept away into the ocean and slowly disappears, sad music ensues, and many moviegoers shed tears over… well, a volleyball.

Making Brands Emotional Link

Connecting people to products and services is not an easy task. It takes careful consideration and planning. US marketing agency JB Chicago11 found success sparking an emotional connection for Vitalicious, its client in the pizza industry. Its VitaPizza product had fewer calories than any competitor’s, however, its message was getting lost among millions of other messages. Explains Steve Gaither, President of JB Chicago:

We needed to bring that differentiation front and center, letting the target audience, women 25-plus interested in healthy living, know they can eat the pizza they love and miss without consuming tons of calories.

A relationship concept was formed, and a campaign was soon launched with the following key messages: “You used to love pizza. And then the love affair ended. You’ve changed. And, thankfully, pizza has too! Now you and your pizza can be together again.” The agency then tested different ads, each centered on one of the following themes:

  • sweepstakes,
  • 190 calories,
  • gluten-free/natural,
  • “You and pizza. Reunited. Reunited and it tastes so good.”

The brand idea outperformed the other ads by a margin of three to one. Bringing a story into the equation resonated with the target audience.

Gaither also shared insight on a current story-building project for StudyStars, an online tutoring company whose brand wasn’t gaining traction. JB Chicago overhauled the brand and created a story to demonstrate that StudyStars is a skills-based tutoring system with a deep, fundamental approach to learning, one that ultimately delivers better outcomes.

“We needed to find and build camp at a place where skills-based tutoring intersects with the unmet needs of the buyer. We needed a powerful brand idea that enables us to claim and defend that space. And we needed to express that idea in a manner that is believable and differentiated.”

Seeking a concept that would look, feel, speak and behave differently, JB Chicago crafted the brand idea “Master the Fundamentals.” It suggests that learning is like anything else: You have to walk before you can run, or else you will fall. So, the agency is setting up a campaign, including a video, to show that students who fall behind in school due to weak learning of the fundamentals don’t just fall behind in the classroom — their struggles affect every other aspect of their lives.

Here’s a snippet of the drafted script:

Title: Pauline’s Story Link

We see a beautiful little girl in a classroom. Pauline. She is 8 years old. We can also see that she’s a little lost.

A quick shot of the teacher at the chalkboard, teaching simple multiplication, like 9 × 6. Back to Pauline. She’s not getting it.

We see Pauline again at age 12, again in class. She is looking at a math quiz. It’s been graded. She got a D.

There’s a sign hanging from her neck. The sign says “I never learned multiplication.”

We see Pauline again, now at 15. She is home. Her parents are screaming at each other about her poor academic performance. The sign around her neck is still there. “I never learned multiplication.”

We see a young waitress in a dreary coffee shop. It takes us a few seconds to realize that it’s Pauline, age 18. She is tallying a customer’s check.

A close shot of the check. Pauline is trying to calculate the tax. She can’t do it, so she consults a cheat sheet posted nearby. She’s still wearing the sign. “I never learned multiplication.”

She figures the tax out and brings the check over to an attractive collegiate-looking couple, who thank her and head for the door. She watches them leave.

Their life is everything hers is not. Their future is everything hers will never be. Slate (text) states StudyStars’ case, and the video ends with an invitation to visit

JB Chicago created a story that draws us in and links to emotions — possibly hope, fear, promise, hope, security and other feelings — according to the person’s mindset, experience, circumstance and other factors. The key is that it gets to our hearts.

Emotional Triggers Link

Different visitors connect to and invest in products and services for different reasons. To help you strike an emotional chord with your audience, veteran marketer Barry Feig has carved out 16 hot buttons in Hot Button Marketing: Push the Emotional Buttons That Get People to Buy:

  • Desire for control
  • I’m better than you
  • Excitement of discovery
  • Revaluing
  • Family values
  • Desire to belong
  • Fun is its own reward
  • Poverty of time
  • Desire to get the best
  • Self-achievement
  • Sex, love, romance
  • Nurturing response
  • Reinventing oneself
  • Make me smarter
  • Power, dominance and influence
  • Wish-fulfillment

How Does It Make You Feel? Link

As emotional aspects of brands increasingly become major drivers of choice, it would be wise for designers, content writers and other marketers to peel back customers’ deep emotional layers to identify and understand the motivations behind their behavior.

So, the next time you ask someone to review your design or content, maybe don’t ask, “What do you think?” Instead, the smarter question might be:

“How does it make you feel?”

(al, il)

Footnotes Link

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Rick is a Senior Web Copywriter and Content Strategist at Webcopyplus, which helps designers and businesses boost online traffic, leads and sales with optimized Web content. His clients range from independent retailers to some of the world’s largest service providers, including AT&T, Bell Mobile, Tim Hortons and Scotia Bank. He advocates clear, concise and objective website content that promotes readability and usability, and conducts Web content studies with organizations in Europe and the U.S., including Yale University.

  1. 1

    Niels Matthijs

    April 11, 2014 1:12 pm

    This is going to backfire for sure (if it isn’t already). Once this fluffy, rosy emotional nonsense is everywhere people are going to grow tired of it real fast. I for one can’t wait for this marketing fad to go away, as I seem pretty immune to the effect and the intentions behind such ads are almost too nauseating to stand.

    The one ad that came to mind:
    iPhone camera ad:

    • 2

      I love to see comments like these. You sir claim to be over the “emotional nonsense” yet you seem to feel the need to get validation by letting everyone know about it.

      Maybe you aren’t seeking any validation, and you are trying to set us on the right path. But I’m afraid you are very wrong. This (psychology in advertisement) works, and has been working since day 1 of any kind of advertising and it will keep on working for as long as people are capable of feeling emotions. This is a rule, not a fad.

      • 3

        Not at all. He’s voicing his annoyance with this type of manipulative and transparent advertising. It even touches on this very issue in the article. I remember watching a lifestyle car ad in the movie theater with my brother when he leaned over and said “this is why everyone is so cynical and jaded.” We can’t go 5 minutes without someone trying to sell their product and service in a dishonest and morally reprehensible way.

        I’d argue the reverse is true: we are at a point where people make logical, well informed decisions on their purchases rather than emotional. Having a solid history and creating products people like will trump emotional advertising. I make purchases based on my (and others) personal history with a company and the reliability of their products. The knee jerk reaction of attaching a lifestyle or emotion to their product may work, but it will also alienate people that don’t feel products or possessions define their lifestyle.

        • 4

          I think the point the author makes is you need emotional connection in addition to substance, which is also something brands have achieved over the years.
          Organizations are getting better at storytelling, however, and we’re seeing them try new and unpretentious techniques when it comes to drawing connection between emotion and information.

        • 5

          Mike Donahue

          April 21, 2014 3:36 am

          Read this book if you think you’re making logical decisions:

          We are not the logical, rational creatures we’d like to believe. The fact is, yes scientifically proven fact, we are biologically hard wired to feel before we think. Read this for more info: As Dan Hill puts it in this book we simply create an “intelectual alibi” so we can explain our actions.

          The implication here is that our emotions drive our actions, great brands understand this and speak to these emotions. You are right that you will win some and lose some with this approach. How is this different than anything else? No one wins everyone’s heart.

          • 6

            Paul Amerson

            April 23, 2014 6:25 pm

            Thank you for bringing up ‘Predictably Irrational.’

            It would behoove everyone reading this article, especially those convinced of our logical fortitude, to take some time to read this book.

            The odds are that most people never, in their life, make an accurate cost benefit analysis of a situation.

        • 7

          I understand your point and I agree with others’ replies to it. But I want to ask you: how do you feel a brand is reliable? Think about that. I don’t think you’re immune to feelings…

  2. 8

    Peter Kincses

    April 11, 2014 1:21 pm

    Should include the “emotional guy alone at night in the warehouse getting his freak on” as well:

  3. 9

    Dieter Mueller

    April 11, 2014 1:42 pm

    Ah, once again the fairy tale about the necessity of loading brands and products with emotions… But let’s look back were all that awesomeness of marketing and branding came from?

    Edward Bernays (Sigmund Freuds Nephew) had some early peeks at his uncle’s psychological essays and books. Since he was also a smart cookie, he figured out that all these insights could be used to appeal to the lower instincts of the consumers and therefore make them buy more and specific brands: He specifically wrote a book called Propaganda (yes, he used that term before the Nazis and Soviets ruined it for him) that explored the delicate relationship between democracy and companies, as well as how to manipulate it all.

    Bernays worked for the US Government as well as big companies and helped for example to market cigarettes to women (and made them a symbol of sexual independence). He also used celebrities to make dull politicians and products more exciting. This all coincided with the American industrial boom after WWI, when the American industry was worried what to do with the war time production capacity. Most companies had the problem that most people only bought new stuff, when their old stuff was literally unusable. The trick was to make product trendy as well as “emotionally” loaded, what you owned and what you used was an “expression of yourself” (very Freudian).

    This also catered to another aspect of industrial production: mass produced items were, well, mass produced. So they lacked any individual charm like handmade goods. Therefore some extra design and a lot of emotionality was “attached” to them to make them “unique”. This also started the trend of marketing products to certain groups and their specific “lower needs”, like teenagers or insecure housewives, etc. Most of all, it was about creating an emotional bond between a brand and a consumer, because in an age of fast consumerism why should anyone buy a slightly inferior product when there is something better?

    That is what all that emotional crap is all about: it’s the bond between you – and a bland industrial product and company that only wants your money. No more, no less. All the cuteness, greenwash, promises of taking care of you, making you special, saving the world or your shitty dinner party are only there to manipulate you form an emotional bond with a “thing” or a soulless corporation.

    It is a sad statement of our times that many companies spend enormous resources to forge that bond – and often even less to improve their products. But especially in pharma, banking and food, the branding and slogans are often misguided and often dangerous. The tech industry has changed course and markets itself more and more like lifestyle brands. Hence all the overexcited Fanbois and Gagdeteers.

    So thanks for the lessons of how to “load” excitement into brands and services! That is so awesome! So really touching! So amazing! I will tell it to all my friends…

    • 10

      Rick Sloboda

      April 11, 2014 7:19 pm

      Dieter, thanks for your perspicacious thoughts and comment. Just yesterday I had a healthy conversation with a client who insisted “all marketing’s bulls**t. My intent is not to disseminate worthless crap through marketing channels, but to get designers, content writers and other creative types to cater to emotions for a good cause. Many entrepreneurs and business owners are passionate about their offerings because they want to make the world a better place.

      For instance, researching and reading the script JB Chicago created about Pauline struggling through life due to learning shortfalls prompted me to spend more time going over math and reading classic novels to my children. There’s nothing bad about that.

      My hope is that when more people understand and appreciate we’re emotional beings, more companies will step up their efforts to truly support their communities and worthy causes, and that people will purposefully choose to invest in businesses that are good corporate citizens.

      Educating people help them see through BS — like running a video collage of heartwarming images and merely dropping a logo at the end. It’s constructive to strengthen our radars and compasses to identify deeds, intentions and organizations that are genuinely good.

      • 11

        Rick, I agree. It’s one thing to concoct a story and manipulate emotions just to part people with their money (like tabloids and TV preachers do) but it’s a very different thing to try and understand what part of your brand’s *actual* story will resonate best with your future customers. Based on this comment and some of the examples you shared, I’m guessing you practice the latter.
        I also think it’s worth noting that fear, distrust, hate, anger, frustration…none of those emotions appear in your list even though we all know how powerful they can be as motivators. That, too, says something about the way you’re approaching this.
        Thanks for the great article! I really enjoyed it…now, for the next few weeks I’ll probably be acutely aware of ads trying to tickle my emotions.

  4. 12

    Kaptain Mirza

    April 11, 2014 1:52 pm

    This comes at a right time when my company is facing serious dearth of marketing strategies and encountering serious implications for not changing course timely.

    This is something good to start with. ‘Emotional’. That’s the theme. ‘Storyline’. And the next one.

  5. 13

    Thanks for the insight. Enjoyed this article alot!

  6. 14

    “…we are at a point where people make logical, well-informed decisions on their purchases rather than emotional.”

    I beg to differ. We are not. We are at a point where we as designers/advertisers know more than ever about human emotion. The entire field of User Experience taps into our emotional/rational preferences. For example: Not every ad needs to ‘resonate’ to everyone. The fact you and your brother did not like the ‘lifestyle car ad’ most likely means you were not the target-audience. I would even go so far as to say we are ALL in sales now. We need to sell out talents and differentiate our selves.

    One of the comments above mentions Freud’s cousin. Here is the BBC documentary called ‘The Century of self’ Another good study is about archetypes by Carl Jung. We can give meaning to products in a consumer’s life by tapping in to universal templates that house inside each and every one of us. Car-brands do this all the time, Mercedes=Hero archetype (best of all cars), Alfa Romeo=Lover, Mini=Rebel, etc etc… People no longer buy cars ‘to get from A to B’. The car becomes a statement they wish to make.

  7. 15

    Its going to hardcore psychology!!!
    there will be a time when we can analyse how people think and tailor the experience accordingly on the fly…
    my goodness time to get out!!

  8. 16

    “>there will be a time when we can analyse how people think and tailor the experience accordingly on the fly…”

    We are almost there. In-store camera’s in phone-selling stores (like Vodavone) are not just there for security. They can scan who enters (male/female) and what their emotional state is (happy/angry/neutral). This data is combined with their location and what product they pick up from the shelf. The phone itself is attached to a wire. The wire ‘counts’ the number of times the phone was picked up. The phone remembes what people do with it (browse, camera app, etc). Data is combined to see what kind of people visit at a certain point in time and what they like to do.

  9. 17

    Excellent article & some great insights. While these methods are of course highly manipulative, the end result is still positive for both the advertiser and consumer.

  10. 18

    Hendrik-Jan Monshouwer

    April 17, 2014 6:05 pm

    We have been conditioned to react to images and gestures on TV that make us mimic the emotions that are presented to us, so that we remember and feel close and personal to the events displayed. Its very powerful.

    Have a look at peoples face´s (family) while watching the news and see how they smile and frown on cue (unintentionally) as the newscasters or etc. also frowns and smiles, depending on the content.

    Even if you HATE watching the news…. you will catch yourself smile and frown on cue.

    Marketing should understand this, and i think this article brings it closer to home.

  11. 19

    Douglas Butner

    April 18, 2014 8:30 pm

    Great Article. I really do agree that we make emotional decisions and then rationalize them. BUT. It is also important to consider the consumers relationship with the product after the purchase, as this is a large part of branding an entire company. This brings other things into the picture, such are rewards and interactions. For example, Coke gives the drinker energy, and Coke uses “happiness” to frame this, making it more likely a consumer will have a more positive experience. Facebook hooks into the reward center of the brain, as do all successful social sites.

  12. 20

    Very nice piece Rick, thanks! In the last 3 year I have been working at MySmark project to build an instant & easy tool to connect brands and consumers emotionally. We call an emotional rich mark a smart-mark, or smark:
    It would be great to share our insights for emotional brands with you, thanks for getting in touch with us:

  13. 21

    I like when people agrees or disagrees with the insights that neuroscience has been discovering these last years. Guys it is not about agreeing or not, it is proven science.

    This really tells me about the level of knowledge the general public still has about neuroscience, when the people kind of feel they can agree or not with serious, repeated experiments that are shaping many aspects of the current economics and will lead (hopefully) in the future key changes in the way we see the economy, education and life.

    Some books I can recommend:
    How We Decide – Jonah Lehrer
    Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions – Dan Ariely

    The main problem here is that the market is being filled by “magicians” and “gurus” of the neuroscience which basically sell smoke since most of the findings have yet an ambiguous application in real life.

  14. 22

    Tom Asacker

    May 2, 2014 9:51 pm

    I love the idea behind the article (very well written, btw). I simply think it should be framed differently:

  15. 23

    The whole article was very thoughtful and had a clear flow. The part where the author mentions about his feeling on the Coke ad reminded me of something. In a recent discussion with friends about advertising, my reaction was rather abrupt and aggressive. I think I owe an explanation to myself for that behavior.

    The primary aim of almost all the advertisements is to make an impression, a long lasting one, in the viewer minds about the product. But to achieve this, the methods adopted are so dirty that the product owning company doesn’t care beyond the sale; completely ignoring the harsh effects that it generates.

    Consider these:

    – Having a fair skin color is a must
    – Taller kids are smarter than shorter kids
    – Making fun of fat people is cool
    – Wearing brands is the only way to be socially accepted
    – Eating at X restaurant or owning a Y brand car is a social status symbol
    – Old age signs on our body are bad
    – Cola consumption means enjoyment, sometimes manly
    – For teenagers, especially girls, not looking attractive is simply not accepted
    – Owning expensive materials is the sign of being successful

    A lot of such gimmicks that are printed hard on our minds today because of advertisements. Hardly anyone is sensible enough to understand and save themselves from falling victims to such perfect traps. I say perfect, because those who even recognize these traps still can’t avoid them. These campaigns attack your ego, your social status and totally manipulate one’s idea about success.

    The idiot box or the newspaper somehow has become a symbol of truth for mankind. If a corrupt politician gets caught red-hand but announces on TV that it was a plot by opposition, a medicine company keeps repeating in newspaper that their products are herbal, a president gives a speech not to justify war on another country but to save the pride of citizens, automobile manufacturers and building constructors display their products nowhere else but in harmony with nature, a packaged food company shouting all the time about how much they care about people’s health hiding and ignoring the horrible thing about what long-term effects food preservatives bring to human body, doctors creating fear in the minds of parents what would happen to their kids without a particular product; and we all believe that eventually.

    Good and cost-effective but less advertised products lose to expensive and bad products all the time because of this consumer fallacy. Ultimately every product company has to invest in advertising if they wish to make it big.

    Look at those kids who demand for nothing but Maggie noodles on breakfast table without even realizing the side-effects of food preservatives, parents who confidently give energy booster drinks to their kids, teenagers who fight at home for more money because they want to buy brand accessories, youngsters who consume colas without hesitation and hang-out at fast-food outlets for all junk meals – many times expensive and unhealthier than the regular home-cooked food, the poor people constantly harassed by the glamorous picture of life and being reminded how unfortunate they are not to avail all the materials which then forces them to overspend, girls and women feeling terrible social pressure to look pretty and fair all the time, office goers constantly being reminded that without an apartment in a high-rise and a luxury car they are losers.

    And here is the best part of it – You are the one paying for all this!! All the money companies spend on advertising is added to the product cost that makes it many times expensive than the manufacturing cost. Then you also pay for the newspaper copy, magazine and TV Channel subscription to watch the advertisements. And don’t forget, a 2-hour movie eats up 3 hours of your time. In some cases, it might help reduce the product cost, but don’t let that fool you. Is the company giving you a choice where you can pay extra to avoid the advertisements? You can guess the answer for yourself.

    Advertisements need to be creative; in fact, if you are in the Ad industry you are most likely to refer to an advertisement as a ‘creative’. But can you admire ads just because a lot of them are extremely creative and many a times surprise you and also make you laugh? There is creativity in a lot of other places in the world to admire and enjoy. I’m not ready to forget the dark side just because there is creativity in it. As probably the top earning industry today, creativity is just obvious.

    Now, let me say without any regrets, “I hate advertising”; and I don’t mind the aggression, it is well deserved.

    The debate of “how would we know of our options without advertising?” wouldn’t hold much either. It is the form of advertising that itself has become advertising which I feel so strongly about. And with time, it is only going to worsen. The effects are so rooted in our society that it has altered our cultural values and blanketed any possible rational thinking. With all the advertisements around you, do you believe you know all your options? I seriously doubt, because you very well know, the woolen sweater that your grandma sewed for you might be the best warm clothing you’ve ever worn and the best food outlet is somewhere in the crowded market street without any real marketing budget but offers most tasty and affordable snacks. The family run ice-create store on-the-wheels got closed because it couldn’t compete with million dollar ad campaigns by a multinational, although they made more varieties with natural flavors and had no need to add preservatives since they always sold fresh. A passionate group of bike mechanics in the town launched their handmade bike brand far better in quality and much less priced than the competition just to get killed as nobody wanted to buy from them; it had no social status. That raises a serious question – how much and how many of the things that we really own today are actually needed? Meaning, we end up buying a lot of unnecessary things and at a much higher cost than it deserves – because of the current ‘larger-than-life’ misleading form of advertising. The pure awareness form of advertising is word-of-mouth but Search Engine and Business Directory/Yellow Pages listings can be considered as less harmful.

  16. 24

    Thanks for such a detailed post. It was very helpful. Here is a small but sufficient post on Emotional Bonding Hope this can be of help to some one.

  17. 25

    Many thanks for mentioning my book “Hot Button Marketing.” BTW, i just revised it and self-published it on Kindle, just as an experiment.

    But that’s not why I’m writing. I’m as vulnerable to the emotional sales pitch as anyone. I saw a really stupid film last night. Jurassic World. I knew the plot in the first three minutes. The characters were predictably wooden. But, you know what. It was fun. Fun is a hot button.

    If a person can write about not believing in emotional advertising so strongly that he took the time to write to you about it, than he was involved emotionally in what you and I had to say.

    Emotion works. People in the theater cheered when the movie ended. Who did they cheer for? Not for the dinosaur (I won’t spoil it my giving away the ending). They cheered the moviemakers for showing them a good time. Totally irrational. But people buy from the heart, not the mind.

    Barry Feig

    • 26

      Hey, Barry!

      Thank YOU for the great info and insight, and for dropping by to leave a comment.

      Reach out to me through our website ( anytime to talk shop and explore collaborations.


  18. 27

    Nice article. And the discussion afterward just as rewarding. I respect those that challenge the notion of tapping into emotions as useful but I do agree with the article and many comments on the importance of creating an emotional connection.

    To answer the “fluffy, rosy emotional” – Why does emotional = fluffy? I think Nike for one – the brand archetype “Hero.” They are thoroughly the Hero brand and everything they do enforces the notion of helping people be all that they can be. Direct, empowering, strong. Now apply that to a recent piece that came out about a Nike designer that connected with a kid who has cerebral palsy to invent a show that was easier for him to put on. Did it live up to the archetype of Hero – definitely. Just like their Michael Johnson golden track shoes were to help him be all that he could and win olympic medals. Now this kid can go to college and not have to have his parents tie his shoes.

    People will still evaluate the shoes on whether they fit or not and how well they are made – but my wife went and bought my son Nike cleats because of that story. And countless others will go buy Nike shows because they believe the shoes will help them be the best they can be at golf, soccer, football, basketball, running, etc.

    Coke was another great example but in the other direction. Coke falls under the innocent archetype. The goal is to make people happy. That fits all they do. Other words in that type are classic, traditional, etc. So when Coke introduced “New Coke” – look what happened. They tried to break out of their brand. And how did they fix it? Coke Classic. Back to the emotional connection.

    So I believe that we make decisions using information but behind that is an emotional state the guides us.


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