Lennie Stern, Head of Creative and Entertainment Strategies, BETC Paris argues that achieving the right balance between emotional clues and informative content leads to effectiveness. 

The most shared content is always in some way evocative. Whether a campaign makes us cry with laughter or sadness, it makes us feel something to connect with the brand purpose. That’s obvious, right? Even if it might seem pretty basic, it sums up what should stand at the heart of all communication.

Emotion comes first in the ‘skip this ad’ age

Creating emotion is what brands have to do today. It has always been true, but it is unquestionably crucial in our current age of ‘skip this ad’. This era is one where we are all struggling for a few nano-seconds of attention.

At the heart of any piece of advertising, regardless of the channel or platform, there should be relevance, emotion, and compelling creative execution. Audience attention needs to be captured in a meaningful way for ads to be effective.

This article appeared originally in WARC’s Effective Content Strategy Report.

Emotion triggers a strong memory. Emotion speaks to guts before speaking to brain, and is actually the secret ingredient for memorable content. There’s no need to prove it again: many studies show that people rely on emotion rather than information when it comes to making a choice between brands. It is the right balance between emotional clues and informative content which leads to effectiveness.

Old equation, new technical requirements

Today, the question is less about which kind of emotion trigger is the most effective one and more about how to use them in the most relevant way. What is at stake is finding the right tonality and addressing the right target in the right moment on the right channel. This is actually the biggest challenge brands and advertisers have to address.

This year, the WARC Awards’ Effective Content Strategy winners celebrated emotion as an effective strategy in an integrated approach. Which means most of the rewarded works in the category used this ‘emotional’ leverage in the best way possible. Not only to create fun and entertaining content about a brand or a product, but also to build communities, drive engagement and create conversion perspectives through those entertaining pieces of content.

It’s also true that they successfully used humour and feel-good emotions.

The whaaaat?! factor

I dare anyone to say they felt nothing watching Coca-Cola’s winning entry, Whiskas’ Kitten Kollege campaign or EGBank’s The Chronicles of Oufa.

Yes, they made me go “whaaaat?!” but not only that. They also got the most precious thing on earth: my attention. The appeal of having a funny commercial is really attractive. Content that tickles our funny bone often triggers an association in our neurons that a certain brand makes us feel good.

EGBank’s The Chronicles of Oufa campaign achieved exactly the right balance of emotional response and brand recognition. So right, in fact, that it has piggybacked its way into ‘helping the youth’ emotional advertising with only a negligible commercial investment. Sneaky heartbreakers! 

The advertising process is often about trying to do something that everybody will like. Integrating humour in advertising is about looking for something people will definitely love. What lies between like and love is risk.

How humour is risky

Humour is what we have to encourage every single day. Yet comedy is not easy because it’s so incredibly subjective. Advertisers run the risk of being overshadowed by the joke, or – even worse – of straying into the territory of being too offensive. In all art, subtlety and understanding your audience is key to whether or not your content will leave a cultural mark on your consumers. 

But this is actually how culture gets shaped. A large part of our collective culture spirit is made of these rare pieces of content that make us laugh, react and connect. This is actually what people are expecting from brands and content. Make them laugh and you’ll encourage them to share new cultural references. 

Content’s virtuous circle This is the perfect virtuous circle we have to feed every day through the lens of brand and content. This is what Coca-Cola or Whiskas managed to achieve: using existing cultural references to shape new ones. They turned their content into pop-culture phenomena. To be honest, humour is the best tool to achieve this outstanding goal. It is what we call entertainment, the foundation of advertising, and the future of brand communication too.