Don’t Spare the Tears: Emotion in Marketing


We all have emotions in differing degrees – they are relatively strong and uncontrolled feelings that affect our behavior, so it is no wonder that it plays such a powerful part in today’s advertising. Whether it is the awaited homecoming of an absent soldier in a Guinness commercial, or a young puppy befriended by horses in a Budweiser ad, or even the family ties that draw the young son back to his home town and the family bakery he built with his father in this 2015 Vistaprint ad.

We are suckers for an emotional story and advertisers know it.

What is emotion in advertising?

Emotions are often triggered by events or images. We might, for example, eat a bar of chocolate that takes us back to the long lost summers of our youth, or see a picture that reminds us of a departed loved-one. Such emotions are usually accompanied by a physical reaction, whether we breath heavier, have an increased heart rate, or become tearful. Invariably they are also accompanied by thoughts – although our ability to think straight depends upon the intensity of those emotions. But above all they lead to feelings, which is the part we most closely associate with emotions: whether that is happiness, sadness, liking, disliking, fear, or love. And advertisers hope to provoke those feelings through the power of the emotional appeal and encourage favorable behaviors based upon them, such as trying a new or unfamiliar product, based upon our reaction to a familiar feeling.

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William Trevor
About William Trevor 17 Articles
Will Trevor is the Faculty Program Director for Marketing in the School of Business and Technology, in which role he is responsible for overseeing and developing the college’s marketing programs. He has a background in sales and marketing, where he filled a range of positions encompassing both consumer-to-consumer and business-to-business markets and across a range of industries. His experience spans both agency-side and marketing management roles, which have helped to inform his perspective on marketing from both a practitioner and an academic angle. And as a longtime member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he was recently honored to attain the designation of Chartered Marketer. Will has taught in higher education for a number of years and on both sides of the Atlantic: in the UK as a faculty member with the University of Essex Online, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City College, and Askham Bryan College; and in the USA he has taught for both Excelsior College and the University of the People. In 2013 Will was recognized for his qualifications and experience in the field of higher education and he became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. From his practical experience in consultancy and market research, Will developed an academic interest in fields of marketing that relate to market research and the role of big data. He also explores issues of consumer behavior and the impact of the evolving field of behavioral economics on the marketing discipline. And his previous experience in sales also fuels an ongoing interest in sales and sales management and the role of sales professionals in a global context and in terms of cross-cultural issues.

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