ReFUEL4 – How to Use Emotions to Drive Ad Campaign Success

How to Use Emotions to Drive Ad Campaign Success

It is no secret that emotions play an important role in ad campaign success. Effective ads should trigger a desired emotional response from their target audiences.


Ads that consist of small offers, reduction in prices or winning incredible prizes will leave short term impact on the viewer’s mind, whereas emotional appeal creates long lasting impressions. This will potentially lead to building a brand image. It is important to appeal to customers not only rationally but emotionally as well. Research shows that emotional ad campaigns perform twice as well as rational ones (31% vs 16%).


Buyer decisions are heavily based on emotions rather than the actual message of the ads.


Emotional responses can be intense, positive, negative or even weak, but they are still emotions.


Let’s look at how emotional elements can be used to drive ad campaign effectiveness.


1. Happiness


Everyone appreciates content that brings a moment of joy in their daily lives. A majority of ads are based on positive concepts like romance, adventure and family bonding. Ads like those from Coca Cola’s, display a series of affections and people having a good time.


At the end of the day, we all want happy and smiling customers. Adding elements such as sunshine or fluffy clouds evokes feeling of happiness, positivity and freedom. Bright vivid colors convey a sense of cheerfulness. Those colors that contrast with each other creates excitement whereas subdued ones create feeling of calmness and peacefulness.

ReFUEL4 – How to Use Emotions to Drive Ad Campaign Success

Coca Cola


2. Inspiration


It drives people to empathize or be compassionate. It deals more with social issues such as family bonding and health issues. These ads are recognized for creating inspirational and moving content.


Everyone wants to be inspired, make their lives better, to strive for success. Some utilize content that are sad to move you emotionally. Dull color palettes are used to portray the feeling of sadness and loneliness. Sometimes the distance of the subject from the viewers affect them emotionally. If the subject is small and far away in the ad, it tends to create a sense of isolation, loneliness and unfamiliarity. On the other hand, moving closer to the subject will create feeling of intimacy and familiarity. The distance to the subject depends on the situation you want to portray in an inspiring ad.

ReFUEL4 – How to Use Emotions to Drive Ad Campaign Success

UN Women


3. Fear


This emotion develops a sense of urgency in your message and prompts viewers to take action. In the advertising context, fear drives people to take action in order to prevent something terrible from happening.


Other than the message in the ad, elements like fog and mist are usually associated with a mysterious atmosphere. These elements intrigued viewers so as to what lies beyond it. Also, displaying shadows and darker areas in the ad convey a sense of suspense, gloom and fear. Those with lots of tonal contrast communicates to a more dramatic mood unlike low contrast ads that create a calmer and serene mood.

ReFUEL4 – How to Use Emotions to Drive Ad Campaign Success

Quit Smoke US


4. Anger


Many may think that a negative emotion like anger would bring down a brand’s image. In some cases, eliciting anger can be highly effective in encouraging action. Disgust and frustration can cause viewers to reconsider their perspectives and self-reflect as well as take action to alleviate the unfairness in the world.


This works especially well for non-profit organizations. Negative content may not be as viral as positive ones but they create a long lasting impact to viewers.

ReFUEL4 – How to Use Emotions to Drive Ad Campaign Success



5. Nostalgia


Use nostalgia to appeal viewers with the longing of past times. This increases a sense of belonging, meaning and security. Applying a sepia color palette or black-and-white photographs will instantly give a vintage feel to an ad. Some ads compare vintage and modern products because the contrast will emotionally connect them.

ReFUEL4 – How to Use Emotions to Drive Ad Campaign Success



6. Humor

Humor makes viewers laugh and emotionally connects them with the ad. It is an excellent tool to catch the viewer’s attention and to be remembered. Integrate that effectively and your viewers will be coming back for more. It can also be a tough concept to execute as we need to be careful so as to not let the joke overpower the original message.


It’s also very important to be culturally sensitive to avoid offending your target audiences.

ReFUEL4 – How to Use Emotions to Drive Ad Campaign Success



A powerful emotional response can go a long way for your brand. Keep in mind that people come with a whole range of emotions and be creative in leveraging emotions to achieve your desired ad campaign results.


Siti Nur Rasyiqah

Intern who loves exploring new things and shopping.