Emotional appeals have come to dominate advertising executions. Critically evaluate the range of emotional appeals available and the effectiveness of their use.
There are multiple emotional appeals within the advertising toolbox that can assist in calling the consumer to action. (Bulbul & Memon (2010), assert that concrete affective appeals drive behavioural intention when looking at the short-term. In contrast, abstract affective appeals appear to drive behavioural intentions more strongly in the longer-term perspective. They illustrate the example of longer and shorter term decisions in terms of feeling towards a partner. Excitement is considered a concrete affective state, which may make a person make plans to go on a date with that person for the weekend. This is the feeling of excitement driving short-term behavioural intentions. In contrast, affection is considered to be an abstract affective state. This feeling may make a person willing to commit to spending their life with a person, a much longer term decision. This is relevant to the discipline of advertising, as awareness of responses to different forms of emotional appeal can have considerable impact on the receptiveness of an audience to a campaign. “Full emotion is the intregrationa of feeling, action, appraisal and wants and location” (Ortony, Norman, and Revelle, 2005).
Rational versus emotional
It is worth noting that the suitability of emotional appeals that are effective in advertising is dependent on the type of business. Rational appeals in services advertising involve detailed information or compelling and logical arguments
An example of this would be the way that Subway advertisement emphasize the numerous perceived health benefits one can gain from consuming their sandwiches. The alternative approach is to stimulate emotional appeals. Emotional appeals channel into consumer’s emotional responses. Moore, Harris and Chen (1995) use the example of Hallmark greeting cards to demonstrate the use of emotion in advertisements. Their advertisements typically dramatize precious moments in a persons’ life. As product category that is closely linked to emotion, it makes sense to use this appeal.
Rational appeals, as the name implies, focuses on an individuals’ functional need for goods or services. Such appeals emphasize the tangible features of the product and the service and how it would be beneficial to the user. Of all media channels, print m is particularly well suited for rational appeals. It is also suited for business to business advertisers and for products that are complex and that need a high degree of attention and involvement.
Hope and empathy
In the healthcare industry, the basis for competition is competency, care and quality. Understanding the role of emotions in healthcare is of great importance as it is a category in which customers need to trust a brand. Kemp, Bui, Krishen, Homer & LaTour (2017) conducted a study on the impact of hope and empathy appeals in fostering a more positive consumer perception towards healthcare providers. Findings from this study showed that that emotion-based appeals were more effective than non-emotional appeals. They also found that both hope and empathy were effective emotions when advertising within this sector.
Emotion in charity advertising
Many non-profits use emotional advertising to attract attention to their cause. From animal welfare organisations seeking donations to car for animals in need, to relief organisations asking for public support in their quest to end poverty, emotional appeals work well for getting consumers to respond to their cry for help.
Cockerill & Parsonage (2016) examined the effectiveness of using shock appeal in charity advertisements. They conducted research on the effectiveness of four different types of appeals in relation to charity advertising; shock, neutral, positive and emotional appeal. The criteria for judgement was which of the appeals compelled people to take action in one of four ways: to donate, to volunteer, to agree to charitable cause or to talk about the advertisement with friends or family. The findings from their research showed that surprise, interest and compassion are key emotions to use when seeking to induce the desired behavioural intention.
It is not only the charity sector that can benefit from the use of emotional appeal. Non-profits in all sectors can channel emotion and use it as a means to differentiate from competitors and express their brand message. Some of the world’s most successful brands have used emotional appeal to great acclaim. An example of this is Nike and their ‘Find Your Greatness’ campaign. In 2012, Adidas was the official sponsor of the London Olympics. To ensure that their brand was not overshadowed by this, Nike used emotional appeal to speak to the everyday ordinary athlete that they proclaim is within all of us. Instead of taking a product-centric approach, Nike challenged consumers to find something inside themselves. The results speak volumes for the successes of this campaign. Nike achieved a 6% growth in Facebook followers and saw 77% increase in engagement with the brand on the platform. In comparison, Adidas gained 2% growth in their number of followers and 59% growth in engagement.
Other types of emotional appeal
Negative emotional appeal is another use of emotion that is used in advertising, with varying degrees of success. It can be a stark contrast the typical tone of advertising messages and can be used to grab the attention of the public, which has become an increasingly difficult task. Due to the saturation of the market, customers have become desensitized to the information being transmitted by brands category. Therefore, the use of negative emotion is often seen as a break from the mundane.
Humour is another emotional appeal that can offer relief to a jaded audience. The right tone of humour has the potential to hold the audiences’ attention whilst also providing a higher likelihood of organic engagement both on and offline.
Power (2006) states that basic human emotions are universal regardless of age, gender and culture. However, this is arguable considering the individualistic tendencies of the human condition, and does not address the many other factors that influence emotion.