What we know about rational advertising

This article explores current thinking and writing on the subject of rational advertising, a technique known for driving short-term behaviour and sales, and an effective tool in a marketing mix.

Despite new understanding of the importance of emotion in consumer decision-making, rational advertising largely remains the default industry approach. Its proven strengths are in driving consumer behaviour and sales short-term. However, long-term it is more effective in combination with emotional appeals, particularly in long purchase cycle categories.


Rational advertising is designed to transmit a message, using information, functional propositions and/or reasons why, to persuade consumers about the tangible benefits of using a brand’s product or service. It can include comparison to a competitor.

Key insights

1. The most effective creative campaigns in B2B balance the rational and emotional


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