Pete Carter, marketing director/creative strategist at P&G, told delegates at South By Southwest (SXSW) 2015 that its in-house research compared emotional responses with the times ads left people feeling indifferent.
"We did an analysis, actually over the last decade, and we looked at over 300 different TV ads, we had 85 different online videos, a hundred Facebook posts and 50 in-store displays," he said. (For more, including further results and examples from P&G, read Warc's exclusive report: Procter & Gamble research validates its marketing instincts.)
"So we looked at a multimedia account of this. And the results were kind of surprising - not totally, but they were surprising to us."
Positive emotions, perhaps least surprisingly, greatly increased the likelihood of success, supporting the long-time marketing tradition of attempting to make audiences laugh or smile.
Even negative emotions, the owner of Tide and Febreze learned, had a discernible impact on performance levels.
"Typically, we used to say that only people like the Ad Council could do things that were negative, because they're talking about stopping people from drunk driving and not lighting forest fires and things like that. And that was okay in their advertising; it wasn't good in ours," said Carter.
Rather than proposing that marketers should make more ads based on negative emotions, Carter argued indifference is the real enemy.
"Indifference is the killer here. And that's what you want to avoid," he said. "I think … discovering all the different kinds of emotions that are out there: that's where the real meat is right now.
"As long as we avoid indifference and give people something that touches them, I think we're in a good place."
Data sourced from Warc