How do brands utilise emotionally charged advertising to motivate users towards making a purchase? We discuss the six universal emotions brands tap into during their advertising campaigns to determine our decisions; with the use of Emotional advertising.


Emotional ads are a great way to get purchases for your business. This is often an unconscious connection we develop which influences our buying behaviour. The best emotional advertisements reach a resolution as appose to leaving viewers wallowing. It’s important not to play on your viewer’s emotions to the point where you may be mistaken for mocking your audience’s emotional intelligence. Concentrate on your brands end goal and the actions you are going to take to successfully capitalize the core value of your brand.


Every brand stives to make people happy, the extent to which a brand understands this and takes it into consideration when creating their advertising campaigns however is key. Happiness makes us want to share; meaning positive advertisement is more likely to receive successful customer engagement as appose to ads which imply a negative message.

Last year, John Lewis’ ‘Buster the Boxer’ advertisement was reported the most shared ad of 2016. It features the family’s pet dog playing on their trampoline at Christmas after seeing an array of animals doing so. By sharing the feeling of friendship, good spirit and all round happiness from start to finish; John Lewis created a positive emotional connection with their viewers within seconds. Following this success, the likelihood of customers engaging incredibly high. By creating the personal connection between their viewers and their brand meant they had encouraged viewers to form both an unconscious and conscious emotional attachment with the brand.

Replacing their ad ‘Share A Coke’ Coca-Cola replaced this with their ‘Choose Happiness’ campaign in 2015. The news took to Twitter where #choosehappiness encouraged users to share their experiences and stories which had contributed to making them happy. As well as spreading positivity, this resulted in Coca Cola being know for bringing the nation together.

Boxer Dog


The feeling of sadness evokse a sense of empathy or compassion. Using negative emotions in an advertisement is a powerful tool to address; but don’t be too blunt during the delivery of your message otherwise you hold the risk of upsetting viewers as appose to creating positive engagement.

Research shows the oxytocin hormone promotes empathy and helps us create an understanding. If an individual is under the influence of oxytocin, this makes them more trusting and generous. This is useful for advertisers to keep in mind when creating an emotional advertising campaign and explains why animals, pets and babies, young children and families are used in advertisements you wouldn’t necessarily expect them to feature in, such as Research shows brands use emotive images and content to cause our brains to release oxytocin. This as a result builds the trust we create and develop in a product or brand and as creates an increase in sales. You could view it as reverse psychology essentially.

Over the years more and more companies have noticed the results from emotional content. With this, more inspirational and moving ads have been created. However, it’s important to keep the balance right when creating this type of emotion during an advertising campaign. You don’t want to upset your viewers. This could be by developing a negative response which results in your brand being recognised for creating that really upsetting ad. Fact is, emotions have a more profound impact on our actions compared to cognitive thinking, meaning our emotions create lasting, instinctual impressions. Marketers act on the fact that memories motivate customers to act and recognise this as an effective marketing technique.


Anger and Disgust

It takes less than 3 seconds to have a gut reaction. This essentially means you have 3 seconds to make an impression. Companies often utilise content which will cause the viewer to feel annoyed or disgusted in an advertisement for a reaction. Government policies, politics and environmental issues are key topics which are often seen in ads, and are purely designed to irritate people. These brands are hoping to gain a higher recognition through choosing sensitive topics; mainly ones the public are likely to have a strong opinion on. Creating a feel of anger within advertisements can sometimes wake the public up and spur an action. By being exposed to an element which causes a feeling of frustration, anger or disgust; this makes viewers reconsider their perspective.

Using this emotion in advertising campaigns often put brands off, this is because of to not wanting to be associated with anger. What they don’t realise is that anger can be used positively and productively. By inspiring people to promote change after showing them a situation they may be personally effected by; it encourages them to promote change and as a result, feel a sense of positivity.

Protests at WhiteHouse


Being exposed to the truth of a habit, activity or emotion encourages viewers to make changes. Fear is an endlessly adaptable tool which successfully gets a message across. Many brands combine vital information with scare tactics to highlight risks associated with harmful behaviours. Smoking, texting whilst driving or driving under the influence of alcohol are all illegal behaviours we often hear about; despite the warnings, punishments and advertisements displaying the dangers associated with such behaviours, people still do it.

Take smoking for example. Smoking advertisements create a sense of fear by exposing the viewers to the affects smoking can have on an individual’s health. By merging this with showing the level to which smoking around other people e.g. children can be effected also. Therefore, feeling of fear creates urgency and prompts the viewer to act or make a purchase which will prevent something awful from happening.

The exposure of how severe the damage first and second hand smoke can create, encourages smokers to purchase products which will help them to stop smoking. Not only is the ad encouraging smokers to quit; they are also encouraging them to make a purchase on something which will be beneficial to not only their health; but maybe their families health too. This is a very clear example of emotional advertising.




Tapping into emotions when creating advertising campaigns can be brilliant for brand awareness and distinguishing your brand from the others. It is key that your ad has an element that is either memorable, unique and daring. Alongside this, take time out to understand the range of emotions and decide which one best suits your brand; as well as its target audience when using emotional advertising.

Remember, emotions get you sales.