GLOBAL: Agencies may be asked to create an emotional ad, but without an accompanying motivating message the impact on sales will be random, according to an industry figure.

Writing in the June issue of Admap, Phil Barden, UK managing director at consultancy Decode Marketing, outlines in How emotion really works in advertising the science behind the relationship between emotional response, memory formation and consumer behaviour.

“Communication that evokes an emotional response helps us to process, remember and share [an] ad,” he says. “But some emotional ads sell; others do not” – and the reason is to be found in our decision-making process.

Barden cautions against making simplistic assumptions about Daniel Kahneman’s work on System 1 thinking, which people sometimes mistakenly think shows decisions are made on emotion rather than, as actually is the case, intuition based on associative processes.

“Mixing up intuitive, implicit, unconscious processes with emotion is just wrong,” he states.

He also cites evidence to show that emotions are a result of our actions (apart from extreme circumstances) rather than the other way round.

What actually drives consumer behaviour is motivation or ‘goal-directed behaviour’ – “we purchase brands and products to achieve the desired state, goals, needs or jobs to be done” – and this is managed by the reward system in the brain.

“Emotions are the feedback mechanism by which we gauge (via conscious ‘feeling’) the extent to which we are meeting our goals,” Barden explains. “So first we decide (or buy), then we experience an emotion that tells us if this was a good decision or not.”

While emotional communication can be an effective vehicle, then, it is not in itself enough; “to impact behaviour, we first need a message that increases the perceived goal value of our brand.”

An ad like Moz the Monster, the 2017 Christmas ad from retailer John Lewis, Barden suggests, shows how a brand can successfully marry the ‘what’ of motivation to the ‘how’ of emotionally engaging consumers.

“An emotional response triggered by an ad can make the ad a more effective vehicle for the motivational message, but the emotional response while watching the ad is only a response – it is not the message in itself,” advises Barden.

Sourced from Admap