October 29, 2021

How emotional marketing can up your advertising game

By Meghan Page

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou.

What is Emotional Marketing? 

Emotions play an incredibly important role in how we relate to the world around us, including our relationships with the brands and businesses we encounter. Emotions are so much a part of who we are that we experience at least one, 90 percent of the time. That’s over 21 hours a day! So it would be hard to believe that someone hasn’t had at least one advertisement have an emotional impact on them, considering we are surrounded by them constantly. Whether it brought a comforting sense of nostalgia or an overwhelming feeling of sadness, the brand influenced our emotions to make us feel more connected to them.

This is the magic of emotional marketing. 

Emotions have been studied extensively in social psychology and have since moved their way into the marketing world, becoming a key ingredient for brands in search of deeper ways to connect with their potential customers. This is because we’ve figured out what really drives people to make decisions. Can you guess why? People are more likely to make decisions based on emotions than facts, with emotional content performing nearly twice as well as fact-based content! So, how does one use emotional marketing to their advantage? 

The Four Basic Emotions in Emotional Marketing 

To keep things simple, let’s break this down into the four basic emotions; happiness, anger/disgust, sadness, fear/surprise.


Emotionally positive content spreads faster than any other type of content. Makes sense right? When something makes us happy, we tend to want to share it with others. One of the best ways to convince people to trust in your brand is through ‘brand awareness.’ Brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with the brand and how often they see distinct images, qualities or products of that brand. It’s also a huge reason why influencer marketing is so popular, why social media has become an advertising powerhouse and why everyone shares positive content! 

This Coca Cola ad uses an element of lightheartedness to attract potential customers and gains brand awareness playing on the idea that Coca Cola brings its consumers happiness.


A more controversial strategy is using anger or disgust to evoke an intense emotional reaction. To be clear, this doesn’t mean purposefully upsetting your audience. Instead, marketers will choose a controversial topic related to their niche and run with it. 

A great example is this New York Times ad “The Truth is Hard” which illustrates how hard it is for people to receive honest information in their media today. They used this technique to demonstrate their commitment to honesty and transparency in a world of “fake news.”


Another strategy companies use is building emotional connections with their audience through negative feelings, like sadness. That’s right, companies use negative emotions to gain potential customers. It doesn’t sound like a good idea, but hear me out. Sadness naturally brings people together for support. We are able to use this emotional response to intrigue others to virtually gather around for support. You’ll likely gather more clicks when sharing content that elicits sadness since humans naturally want to learn more about it.

This heartbreaking ad about the forest fire crisis, does exactly this. 


We naturally look for comfort or reassurance when we experience negative emotions like fear, and people tend to feel more loyal to a brand that was present during a scary experience as opposed to a brand present during a pleasant experience. 

An example is this WWF ad. They made sure to use just enough fear without crossing a line and remind the consumer that they’re there to help.

Your Turn

Ultimately no matter how logical we like to think we are, the reality is we are extremely emotional beings and often make decisions based on how we feel. Emotional marketing connects with people at the core of their feelings and binds customers and brands together. With this new tool in your marketing toolbox, I promise your ads will improve significantly!

Now go get emotional.