5 years ago, when I was a third year university student, I had a lecture where everyone was asked to debate the pros and cons of emotional and informational-based advertising, and consider the appeals that were being used to draw the audience in. I was strongly on the side of emotion – believing that digging into the depths of a customer’s psyche and pulling on their heart strings (as it were) would have a far greater impact than formal facts, stats and functional information. But as I’ve learnt, and when it comes down to it, advertising, and content in general, that can integrate both logic and emotion holds more power than simply one on its own. Taken together, these appeals can inspire, motivate and ultimately convert an audience. But what exactly is emotional content? Are there times where informational content should have the upper hand? In this blog, I give a rundown of these two types, provide examples of where they work well together, and provide guidance on how to integrate them into your campaigns.
What Is Emotional Content?
Emotions have an important function in the lives of all people. Most of us like to think we’re rational beings that weigh up the consequences of our decisions and actions, but the truth is, we’re also emotional beings. People make decisions (including buying decisions) based on emotions more than we’d like to admit, and sometimes, we don’t even know we’re doing it. That‘s because our intellectual mind constructs a narrative that justifies our choice as rational. It’s this very knowledge that makes emotion and storytelling powerful marketing tools.
Emotional content uses appeals such as happiness, fear, optimism, sadness, humour and the inherent need to belong to elicit a response from consumers. That emotional response leads to action that corresponds to marketing KPIs.
Examples of Emotional Content:
1.Humour-Based Content – Carlton Draught – Beer Chase
2. Sadness-Based Content – WaterAid – No Choice
By associating these emotions with the brands’ values and what they stand for, and tying this to good times (Carlton Draught) or urgency and the feeling that we all must do our part (WaterAid), these ads can leave their mark on people, and encourage uptake.
What Is Informational Content?
Informational content typically highlights the features of a product or service, and the benefits a customer will gain when using it. Helping users to learn more about your company too, examples in advertising include product demonstration ads (such as Cillit Bang – ‘’Bang and the dirt is gone’’ (sorry I had to!)), problem-solution ads (e.g. Gaviscon for heartburn and indigestion) and product/company comparison ads (e.g. Aldi vs branded products). Unlike with emotional appeals, informational appeals assume very rational processing of the communication on the part of the consumer. Logic and reason rule.
Though this may seem appropriate in some cases, in comparison to many emotional-based ads, informative ads can sometimes come across as dull. If a consumer is not at all interested in hearing how a product works for example, it will undoubtedly bore them, and they will find no reason to continue listening to the benefits of the product. You have to be very careful with this type of appeal, and narrow audience targeting is key for campaign success.
Ads That Use Both Emotional and Informational Appeals
So what if you want that magic mixture that appeals to both the rational and emotional side of your potential customers? Well, the first thing to do is consider the rational reasons why someone may choose or use your product or service, and relate this to their emotions. One of my favourite adverts is Google Chrome’s ‘Dear Sophie’ advert. Within it, a father is using Gmail to send his daughter images and videos of her life as she grows up. From the day she was born, to her first birthday, the birth of her sister and even holidays away, you instantly connect to this family, and realise that though you could probably use any number of email platforms, Gmail makes it a whole lot easier due to the functionality it encompasses. It’s a beautiful advert, and even picked up a 2012 Clio Awards Gold for its ingenuity. You can check the advert out here:
Other ads that incorporate both the rational and emotional well are the Compare the Market (*Simples!*) and Go Compare ads. They take mundane services and truly grab your attention with their outlandish appeals that make you remember them in the long run.
After considering these rational reasons, consider the solution that your product or service helps to provide. Incorporating this into the copy, you’ll spark something deep inside your audience, and give them reason to find out more.
Another helpful tool is actually Aristotle’s ‘Persuasion Triad’ which consists of:
- Ethos – Appealing to Ethics, Morals, and Character
- Logos – Appealing to Logic
- Pathos – Appealing to Emotions
- Ethos: Establishes your authority and credibility over the topic or information you’re sharing.
- Logos: Tells a story or makes a proposal that makes sense to your target audience based on their needs and positions your product or service as a reasonable solution.
- Pathos: Bridges the gap between the current emotional state and the desired emotional state of your target audience.
In practice, this can take the following format:
- Ethos: Includes credible facts; backs up claims with research and data; uses well-respected and high authority people in testimonials and case studies.
- Logos: Uses storytelling to create a fluent narrative that’s easy to follow, and makes your call to actions as clear as possible.
- Pathos: Take readers on a carefully planned emotional journey. Uses words that connect to the current emotional state of the reader/audience to demonstrate empathy and build rapport. Later, transition to language that connects to the reader’s desired emotional state.
This isn’t always an easy feat, but one which I thoroughly enjoy. There’s something quite special about getting to the heart of a brand, product or service, and showcasing both their emotional and rational benefits. If this sounds like the kind of campaigns you should be creating, then give Embryo Digital a call today on 0161 327 2635. Leading with the head and the heart, our campaigns continuously hit the mark and resonate with audiences no end.