How does your brand make people feel?

Why does a drumming gorilla make you want to buy a chocolate bar?

Ok, I’m going back quite a way with this advertising reference, but stick with me and it’ll become clear as to why.

We can all think of an advert that we loved when we first saw it. It probably made you laugh or maybe it even made you cry. Whatever your reaction was, I bet you can name the brand or product it was advertising.

Research using data from the IPA (the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) of 1400 successful advertising campaigns showed that emotional adverts are nearly twice as effective as those containing purely rational content.

We’re going to explore why this is, and how you can leverage emotion to improve the results of your own marketing campaigns.

The joy of advertising


Image credit: Neuro Science Marketing

So there you have it in retro diagram form. I must say, it didn’t exactly surprise me when I read this. I still remember wanting to run to the shop and buy a massive bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk after seeing the drumming gorilla advert on TV way back in 2007.

If you don’t know which ad I’m referencing here, please take a second to enjoy it now. If you do, here it is for you to relive… you’re welcome.



The brief for this advert and the communications for Cadbury’s at the time was that the brand had been one of the UK’s favourites, but was a little forgotten. They wanted to make people ‘feel a simple moment of joy just like the bar itself’ through their communications and I think that was pretty well executed to say the least! 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Cadbury’s story I’d recommend this short film, The Joy of Content, about their marketing journey leading up to the gorilla advert being released. 

Why does emotional advertising work so well?

I think it’s pretty impressive that this advert still sticks out in my mind over 10 years later, and it’s been proven that this is directly connected to the emotional response that I had when I saw it.

Studies have shown that emotional events create more powerful memories. If you think about the most vivid memories you have of things that have happened in your life, it’s likely that you were feeling heightened emotions at the time. True, right?

Therefore, if you have an emotional reaction to an advert you’re more likely to remember it. Simple! Or is it?

How can you make your own ads memorable?

The worst thing you can do with any marketing campaign is to make unjustified assumptions. Before you spend any money you should use all of the resources available to you to determine what should be your most successful plan of action. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

Have you run digital ads before? What were the results?

This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t go back and analyse the results of previous marketing efforts to inform their future campaigns.

Not all businesses have lots of money to spend on market research and testing, and that's ok. Even without a huge budget you do need to base assumptions about how successful your marketing efforts should be on something concrete.

Start with what you know about your audience and what makes them buy from you, then build your marketing around these facts. The trick is not being held back by facts about your products at this stage - start thinking about how you want your audience to feel when they interact with your brand. This could lead you down all sorts of exciting paths. Cadbury's built their campaign around the joy that eating chocolate brings to their customers and look what they ended up with.

Emotion in your own adverts

There are many emotions that marketers use to evoke emotional reactions in their audiences. But how do you know what will work best for your business?

Statistics show (can you tell I’ve been researching!?) that your content is more likely to be shared if it’s positive. This is a very ‘dumbed-down’ explanation of course as there are more complicated emotional reactions that just ‘feeling happy’ or ‘feeling sad’, but you get the sentiment. 

Despite this, assuming that your target audience will respond best to positive emotional advertising is a mistake. Every business in every industry is different. Yes, look at what your competitors are doing, but don’t automatically assume it will work for you too. You should always be testing your theories.

Why not run a few tests of your own and try your ad content out with your existing audience on social media for instance. Measure the results and act accordingly when planning your new campaign. 

How will you transform your marketing efforts?

Using emotion in your marketing doesn’t have to mean making people laugh or cry for hours, it’s about making your brand stand out enough for a person to remember you.

You might use a poster with emotive language to spark a thought in someone’s mind. You might use an image of someone laughing with friends to convey how your product makes your customers feel.

It doesn’t always have to be elaborate and out there, but it’s worth thinking about how you intend to make people feel when they see your ads before you use a certain image paired with particular words. Is it going to get the reaction you want?

If you're still not sold on the merits of emotional advertising, here is a task for you to enjoy when you have a few spare moments. Go and watch a few TV adverts for high-end perfume brands and think about how they are encouraging their target audience to go out and buy their product before they’ve even smelt it.

You might not be selling perfume, but perfume adverts are the perfect example of why you don’t need to state facts about your product or service in your marketing campaigns in order to sell. 

Need help with your marketing campaigns or content?

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