Customer psychology

Emotional approach to advertising

“There is one more thing – it’s been emotional…” 10 points to those who can name the film that comes from?! *

It’s December folks which means there’s a deluge of Christmas advertising – which actually started right after Halloween.

Big brands often hang an entire chunk of their ad strategy and budget on their Christmas advert. The first one that springs to mind is John Lewis. The whole premise is based on eliciting emotion – which it does in spades.

We’ve talked many times before about how people respond when making buying decisions. The default reaction for humans is emotion. Basically, we go with how something makes us feel. Emotional responses to adverts are more influential on a person’s intent to buy than the actual content of the advert itself.

Using emotion to create an effective ad campaign

Take the worlds biggest sporting event – The Superbowl. Advertising during the Superbowl is a massive marketing commitment. You need to get it right.

Unruly, the advertising platform ranks the ads that run during the Superbowl. This year Toyota was ranked first. It tells the story about Paralympian gold medallist Jessica Long. The Team Toyota athletes journey began when she was adopted by an American couple from a Russian orphanage. The advert finished top after 63% of viewers had an intense emotional response to the content — almost twice the average US ad. 

The advert generated intense feelings of warmth, happiness and amazement, but also had viewers reaching for the tissues, with the ad 164% sadder than the US norm. Additionally, it drove the highest level of desire to find out more among consumers (70%), while brand favourability (66%) and purchase intent (66%) were also well above the US norm. **

Interestingly, other adverts included celebrities being humorous which were well received but the emotional approach which clearly pulled at the heartstrings, prevailed.

Increasing consumer engagement using emotions

The 4 basic human emotions are happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted.

Guinness recently nailed the happiness emotion with their new advert.  ‘Always on my mind’ sung by Jack Savoretti coupled images of black and white objects in lockdown Britain then builds to a finale with friends having a pint of Guinness. Finished off with their iconic strapline “Good things come to those wait”.  Regardless if you drink Guinness or not, it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling. Positivity and happiness will lead to increased sharing and engagement amongst consumers.

At the other end of the scale you’ve got fear playing a part. Charities will often use scare-vertising tactics. The World Wildlife Fund, the SSPCA will often show images or sequences which can be shocking or upsetting to trigger a reaction. And it works. It may be that it’s a negative association but it can often spur consumers into action. Generally negative emotions are less common in advertising but they can make us reconsider our perspective.

One of the favourites of the team here at Platinum Creative is Irn-Bru’s The Snowman – the music makes us feel festive while the words and animation make us laugh – every single time. Funny equals memorable.


If you’ve not seen all the Christmas ads yet this year (what have you been doing!?!) then here’s a list for you! ***

Top 10 most well-received Christmas adverts of 2021



   Percy Pigmas



   Bags of Joy


Coca Cola

   Real Magic



   Best Bit of Christmas





John Lewis & Partners

   An Unexpected Guest



   Ebanana Scrooge


TK Maxx

   Christmas To The Maxx



   Give More Than A Gift



   Nothing’s Stopping Us


If you would love your brand to be more effective, talk to us about creating an amazing ad campaign.

*Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels!

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