Marketing Talent Inc

Emotional Advertising Must Start With An Emotional Brief

As Brand Leaders are starting to see the value in being more emotionally connected, we see them going to their agencies asking for more emotional advertising and communication.  Of course the agency would love to do emotional work.  So it’s off to the races?   Well, not quite.  Three weeks later, all the emotional ads get rejected.  The problem is the brief, which had zero emotion.  These emotional ads developed by the creative teams were just random emotional ads, not connected to any real consumer insight or any desired emotional space the brand can own.

To do great emotional advertising that is on strategy with the brand, there must be a brief that starts with how the consumer feels now (consumer insights) and defines how we want the consumer to feel after they experience advertising (an emotional desired response).


You Need Deep Emotional Insights

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”.   When most Brand Leaders write insights they write about how they use their product or just facts and trends about the consumer.  But those aren’t really insights.  Facts are merely on the surface, they are knowledge, not insight.  Facts miss out on the depth and fail to really bring the target market to life.  Facts are fairly superficial and stay at the surface level.

To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting.  Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices.  Insights need to be interesting or intriguing.  My challenge is to think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends  that could impact changing behaviour.

Slide1Insight is something  we already know and it comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.  That’s why we laugh when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  We see ourselves and we feel connected to how the insight is projected.

When trying to come up with insights, I recommend you try to put yourself in the shoes of your target consumer and project thought how they might feel by using their voice.  Brainstorm insights by starting each insight as a quote that starts with the word “I” and you will see statements get deeper and more personal.

As you brainstorm, to get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”.  While it’s possible to see the behavior of your consumer, you can’t always see the values, beliefs and attitudes that help explain how consumers think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category.   You must go below the surface.


Another way to really capture is to focus on your consumers’ enemy.  Yes, it’s natural to think about your consumers problem, but you might find yourself getting a bit more creative if you push yourself to think of who your consumers enemy is.

    • For Starbucks, the consumers enemy is the “hectic life” of your average soccer mom–driving the kids around, rushing to get to work, trying to get everything done on their to-do lists, buy everything on the shopping list and get enough sleep.  Starbucks attacks that enemy:  you can order your favorite elaborate drink, do so in Italian, eat cute little pastries and sit in leather chairs listening to soft music.  There are no screaming kids, no play land and no kids items on the menu.  Ahhhh peace and quiet, even if it’s just for 15 minutes during the day.  And to cap it off, you can order off an attractive 21-year-old who knows your name and even what you like to drink.  So Starbucks attacks “hectic life” of the consumer in everything they do.
    • For Apple, the consumers enemy is “frustration”.   While we all use computers, very few of us are competent.  We hate having to set up the computer, run virus protection software, fix things that go wrong and have to figure out the most minute details of your system preferences.  Apple attacks the enemy of “frustration” making your computer so easy to set up and use, apps for every potential need you might have a genius bar with experts to help you figure anything out.  The “Mac versus PC” advertising was based on the enemy of “frustration”.

Leading with your consumers enemy is a great way to connect with your target market, and they engage and listen to your message.


Find The Emotional Benefit

People tend to get stuck when trying to figure out the emotional benefits.  I swear every brand out there thinks it is trusted, reliable and yet likeable.  It seems that not only do consumers have a hard time expressing their emotions about a brand, but so do Brand Managers.   Companies like Hotspex have mapped out all the emotional zones for consumers.   I’m not a researcher, but if you’re interested in this methodology contact Hotspex at  Leverage this type of research and build your story around the emotions that best fit your consumer needs.  Leveraging Hotspex, I’ve mapped out 8 zones in a simplistic way below:

Within each of the zones, you can find emotional words that closely align to the need state of the consumer and begin building the emotional benefits within your Customer Value Proposition.  It almost becomes a cheat sheet for Brand Managers to work with.  But you want to just own one emotional zone, not them all.

Brands are either better, different or cheaper.  Or not around for very long.  The key is to find a unique selling proposition for your brand.  You don’t always need to find a rational point of difference as long as there is room to be emotionally unique.

USP 2.0

Find Your Emotional Zone You want to Own

photo credit: Urban Woodswalker via photopin cc | Original post


Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do. I have walked a mile in your shoes. My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. I’m now a marketing consultant helping brands find their love and find growth for their brands.

Website: | Twitter: @grayrobertson1

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