Finding the Right Balance in Emotional Advertising

Carly Vogel
Senior Content Specialist

How do consumers make decisions? For brands and advertisers, the answer to this question is the key to success.

Certain people believe that ads presenting rational arguments are best to sell products and services. However, others consider a softer and more emotional approach the most effective.

Regardless of what side you fall on, when it comes to emotional advertising, balance is everything.

How Utilizing Emotion in Advertising Can Result in Success

It’s no surprise that using an emotional advertising approach works.

Antonio Damasio, a neuroscience professor at the University of Southern California, argues that emotion is a necessary ingredient to almost all decisions. His research found that when individuals are confronted with a decision, emotions from prior experiences attach values to the presented options.

These emotions then create preferences which ultimately lead to a final decision.

In another study from the Association from Consumer Research, results showed stronger memory and more positive judgments of advertisements that included emotional messages.

And if you’re not already convinced about the power of emotion in advertising, consider this: It takes less than three seconds to have a gut reaction.

Dan Hill explains this further in his book, Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success. Our emotions process sensory input in one-fifth the time our conscious, cognitive brain takes to process that same information.  

When Emotional Selling Misses the Mark

As shown in multiple studies and brand success stories, emotion is a powerful thing. But that’s not to say that it should be used in all advertising.

For some products and services, it may be necessary for the consumer to know its functional benefits.  Since emotions vary greatly from person to person, focusing on things like price and product features may have a wider appeal.

This type of marketing can create demand among those looking for a bargain. Or who need, as opposed to want, a product or service.

We see this kind of reasoning work for brands selling household items such as vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliances, automobiles, etc.

How Can You Find the Right Balance?  

If you decide to use an emotional approach in your next marketing campaign, success is not inherent. The messaging needs to be authentic and relatable so that audiences can make a personal connection.

In addition, context for emotional ads is essential. Don’t use emotion for the sake of eliciting a reaction. It’s important that any appeal you include in your marketing builds on the values of your brand.

Lastly, to find the right balance in emotional advertising, you must first and foremost concentrate on the customer. A webinar from Sprout Social, How to Use Emotion to 10x Your Social Conversions, brilliantly explained this in a single sentence.

You are not the hero of your story - your customer is.

Carefully asking yourself who they are and what they are looking for will help you to create ads that use the right emotions at the right time. Which ends up resulting in greater success.

KennedyC’s Approach to Emotional Advertising

Here at KennedyC, our content specialists and creatives work to create strategies and messages that create emotional responses while remaining true to our clients and their identities.

For one of our clients who has been in business for over 87 years, we use emotional messaging to tell the story of family legacy and their dedication to the Madison community. To do this, we integrate our strategy across television, print, social media and their website.

This type of emotional content on social media has seen immediate success, with cost-per-click (CPC) eight times lower and click through rate (CTR) five times higher than industry standards.


The talented individuals who make up our KennedyC content and creative teams have the experience and creativity to harness the power of emotion and take the storytelling of your brand to the next level.

Give us a call or send us a message anytime you’re interested in learning more.