Emotional Advertisements Tugging at Your Heartstrings

Emotional response drives ad effectiveness. Brands focus on creating inspirational ads.

Ads that compel people to share and buy can be described in one word: emotional. This should come as no surprise. According to studies, people make brand decisions based on emotions rather than information, and emotional responses to advertisements are more influential on a person's intent to buy than ad content. According to Unruly, which ranks the most viral ads each year, the most-shared ads in 2015 were heavily reliant on emotional content, specifically friendship, inspiration, warmth, and happiness. Android's Friends Furever and Kleenex's Unlikely Best Friends are two examples. This emotional awareness from brands, however, has not always been the case. Advertisers were more concerned with humour and sarcasm in the 1990s and early 2000s.

People have traditionally identified six core emotions: happiness, surprise, fear, disgust, anger, and sadness. However, according to research published in 2014 by the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, the distinction between four of these emotions is based on social interactions and constructs. Human emotion is instead divided into four categories: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted.

Brands want to be associated with customers who are smiling, laughing, and happy, and positivity has been shown to increase sharing and engagement. A 2010 study of the most-emailed New York Times articles discovered that emotional articles were shared more frequently, and positive posts were shared more frequently than negative ones.

As brands have recognized the popularity of emotional content in recent years, an increasing number of companies have focused on creating inspirational and moving advertisements. Nothing beats a good cry at work regularly to make your co-workers question your stability.

Fear creates urgency and motivates us to act — to change or, more importantly in this story, to purchase something that will prevent terrible things from happening. "Advertising is based on one thing: happiness," Don Draper said in a Mad Men episode. And do you understand what happiness is? Happiness smells like a new car. It is the absence of fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that proclaims that whatever you're doing is fine. You're fine."

We become enraged when we witness another person's suffering or injustice. Disgust and frustration can cause us to reconsider our position and pose critical questions. According to a study of the most popular images on imgur.com, while negative emotions were less common in viral content than positive emotions, viral success occurred when the negative images included an element of anticipation and surprise.