Advertisers are frequently encouraged to use emotions in their advertising but they should not think that an emotional campaign is necessarily the same as a successful campaign.

For emotion to be relevant to marketers it needs to drive behaviour, but establishing the causal link between emotion and behaviour is difficult, according to Phil Barden, managing director of Decode.

Speaking at a recent Brainy Bar, a regular event co-hosted by WARC and neuroscience agency Walnut Unlimited, he explained how advertising that connects with consumers’ goals can more accurately drive purchasing behaviour.

Emotions are dependent on whether people achieve their goals or not, and change in relation to those goals, he said. Thus “we experience emotions whenever the likelihood of achieving a goal changes”. (For more, read WARC’s report: Why emotional response does not guarantee advertising success.)

Campaign briefs that include the emotions they want to inspire in consumers are “next to useless”, he suggested, because there are an infinite number of ways to evoke emotions (joy or sadness, for example), but that does not mean consumers will connect with an ad.

To make that happen, advertisers need to understand what goals are relevant to the consumer and how those goals also align with the goals associated with the brand.

Goals can be categorised into the functional and the neuropsychological, the latter being “implicit goals” that Barden further divides into six: adventure, autonomy, discipline, security, enjoyment and excitement.

To demonstrate his proposition, he cited the example of a brief to “rediscover the joy”. Two adverts were written to the same brief: Gorilla and Trucks. When these ads were tested against implicit consumer goals, Gorilla ranked highest in enjoyment and security, whereas Trucks ranked highest in adventure, autonomy and excitement.

When the Cadbury brand was tested, it also ranked highly in enjoyment and security – which means, Barden said, the Trucks ad was “totally off brand”.

Both ads elicited a feeling of joy “but the cause of that joy and hence what you put in your communication, could be radically different”, he said.

Sourced from WARC