What we know about using emotion

There is increasing evidence and consensus that using emotion in advertising builds a brand and its business, especially in the long term. However, opinions differ on whether emotion should be the sole focus or a balance struck between emotional and rational.


Emotion-based communications aim to evoke and appeal to human emotions to encourage brand preference, which will build the brand's business in the long term.

Key Insights

1. Emotional advertising uses motivational messaging to succeed

Scientific analysis has given a deeper understanding of emotions and their relation to purchase decisions. There are two physical aspects to emotion: arousal, the degree to which the body responds physiologically, and valence, how we assess if something is positive or negative. These dimensions drive the emotional response and consumers’ feelings. To leverage the potential of arousal, it is the brand/product not the ad that needs to trigger the emotional response, and if the ad is emotionally engaging, people are more likely to recall it. The higher the arousal, the greater the chance of the communication being shared. Similarly, communications that trigger a positive response will help build a positive attitude towards the brand and also more likely to be shared. But not all emotional ads work. It is motivation, not the emotional response from viewing the ad, that triggers the purchase. If there is no motivating message in the ad, the effect on brand sales at best will be random.