Which dating site profile would you rate higher?

Hello, my name is John and I’m an accountant. I like to keep things low-key and don’t enjoy going out to parties or large social gatherings. I’m not a big fan of sports or outdoor activities, but I do enjoy going for walks and exploring new neighborhoods


Get ready to be swept off your feet! My name is John and I’m not your typical accountant. 

I might not be a big fan of large social gatherings, but that’s only because I prefer more intimate settings where I can really get to know someone. I love nothing more than taking long walks, discovering new neighborhoods, and taking in the beauty of the world around us.

No contest, right?

The first profile is boooooring. The second profile has basically the same information but succeeds in painting an appealing emotional picture. If we were John’s dating coach, we’d tell him to go with the second profile, hands down. 

Every advertisement is effectively a dating profile: out there to engage your target audience and convince them to enter a relationship with your brand.  How can you create ads that draw your intended consumers towards commitment? Using emotional appeal advertising is the ticket.‌

Understanding emotional appeals in advertising

Emotional appeal advertising is a marketing strategy that aims to create an emotional connection between the consumer and the product or service being advertised that will then influence the consumer’s purchasing decision, often without their conscious, rational brain even realizing it. 

When advertisements evoke emotion, they are more likely to:

  • Be Remembered
  • Influence opinion
  • Drive action
  • Build loyalty

Rational and emotional advertising appeals – what’s the difference?

Rational advertising appeals are focused on logic and reasoning and are designed to persuade consumers based on the facts and features of a product or service. These ads typically highlight the benefits of a product, such as its quality, price, or functionality.

Emotional advertising appeals are focused on eliciting emotional responses and persuading the consumer based on their emotions and desires. These ads highlight how the offering will make the consumer feel.

Examples of rational and emotional advertising appeals

Let’s say you’re selling the new, just-out version of a smartphone. Here is what a rational appeal advertisement for your smartphone might look like:

Are you looking for a smartphone that combines cutting-edge technology with exceptional value? Our latest model features a high-resolution display, a lightning-fast processor, and long-lasting battery life, all at an unbeatable price. With a sleek design and easy-to-use interface, our smartphone is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a reliable and feature-packed device.

Now let’s compare that with a sample emotional appeal advertisement for the same phone:

Looking for a smartphone that will take your life to the next level? Our new smartphone is more than just a device – it’s a window to a world of possibilities. With its stunning display, powerful camera and seamless user experience, our smartphone is the perfect companion for capturing and sharing all of life’s moments. Whether you’re a social media maven, an avid traveler, or just looking to stay connected with friends and family, our smartphone is the ultimate tool for living your best life. 

Because of the power of emotions on decision-making, it’s often advisable to integrate some level of emotional appeal into even a “rational” ad for a practical product. 

Negative vs. positive emotional appeal advertising

Consider the following ads for saving the whales. Which do you find more motivational?

“Join us in saving the whales and protecting our planet’s most magnificent creatures!”

“The whales need your help now more than ever – join us in saving them before it’s too late and they disappear forever.”

Clearly, the first ad uses positive emotional appeal – evoking admiration and pride – while the second uses negative emotional appeal – evoking pity and regret.

Which is more effective? 

Human beings tend to prioritize avoiding pain over gaining pleasure – a psychological phenomenon known as “loss aversion” – which would seem to point to negative emotional appeal being more effective. On the other hand, negative emotions associated with your brand can often be bad for business. 

In general, negative emotional appeal should be restricted to instances when the negative consequences of not using the product or service are significant and the ad offers a clear solution. For example, a health insurance ad that highlights the negative consequences of not having health coverage, such as financial ruin or poor health outcomes, gives a clear solution: buy health insurance and protect yourself from this awful situation.

Use positive emotional appeal for everything else: ads that evoke feelings of joy, satisfaction, pride and aspiration. It’s hard to go wrong with happiness (although there are exceptions, so always make sure the context is appropriate).

If you can combine the two (positive and negative emotional appeal) in the same campaign, you can pack a double whammy. Take the above “Save the Whales” campaign as an example, and try:

“You have the power to protect our planet’s most magnificent creatures! Join us in saving the whales before it’s too late and they disappear forever.”

Types of emotional appeals in Advertising 

Trying to brainstorm what type of emotional appeal would fit your product or service?

Positive emotional appeals in advertising can include:


Ads that portray people laughing or experiencing pleasure can create a positive emotional response in viewers. For example, an ad for a vacation resort might show people enthusiastically having fun in a tropical setting.


Ads that evoke feelings of nostalgia can be powerful because they tap into people’s memories and emotions from the past. For example, a soda company might use a retro-themed ad to appeal to consumers who remember drinking their product as a child.


Ads that inspire viewers to be their best selves or to pursue their dreams can be very effective. For example, an ad for a sports brand might show people overcoming obstacles and achieving their goals through hard work and perseverance.


Ads that evoke the sensation of connection and romance can be relevant for products or services related to relationships. For example, a dating app might use a campaign that shows couples enjoying romantic moments together, with messaging that emphasizes the importance of finding true love and meaningful connections.

Negative emotional appeals in advertising can include:


Ads that evoke feelings of danger, vulnerability and risk can tap into the viewer’s emotion of fear, motivating them to take action to eliminate the source of fear. For example, an ad for a home security system might show footage of break-ins or use dramatizations to show how easily a home can be breached by intruders.


Campaigns that evoke pity and compassion by highlighting suffering can be relevant for charity organizations. For example, an organization focused on animal welfare might use a campaign that shows images or videos of abused or neglected animals.


Campaigns that evoke the emotions of anger and outrage can be relevant for social justice or advocacy issues. For example, a campaign for a civil rights organization might use images or videos that highlight the injustices faced by marginalized communities.

As noted above, any of these negative emotional appeals should be used with caution and lots of forethought. If your ad comes over as manipulative, exploitative, offensive, or disrespectful, you will lose much more than you have gained. Caveat venditor – let the seller beware!

Examples of emotional appeal advertisements (positive and negative)

Here are two notable examples of successful advertisements that leveraged emotion to connect with their audiences and inspire action:

Parisian Love (Google)

This ad promoting Google Search aired during the 2009 Super Bowl. An ad for a search engine – can anything be more practical and boring than that? But the “Parisian Love” ad told a story – entirely through screencasts of search results and a bit of background music and sound effects – that cleverly and sensitively evoked the emotional appeal of love

A sampling of comments on the YouTube video of the ad says it all:

  • “I remember everyone in the room just stopped what they were doing and watched this commercial during the Superbowl. it was absolutely perfect and still is. this commercial connects to you more than any other commercial I’ve ever seen.”
  • “I almost shed a tear. I had the most wonderful relationship in my short life with a girl I met abroad… and some of the searches were quite similar to the one I searched…”
  • “Years later, this commercial still has a deep effect on me. Words cannot describe the joy I feel every time I see that last search.”

Most shocking second a day (Save the Children)

This 2014 ad portraying “If London Were Syria” was produced three years after war broke out in Syria when international attention was already starting to wane. In one-second video snippets, the ad depicts a regular girl in London losing all vestiges of a normal life due to the outbreak of civil unrest.

The emotional appeal ad evokes outrage at the impact of war on innocent children and pity for the children for whom this has been their childhood experience. The campaign hit home with viewers, garnering over 100M views, more than 150 media mentions, and a 93% increase

Let’s get practical: how to create emotionally appealing ads

In order to create emotional appeal ads that will achieve your goals, you should:

Think deeply about your audience

How does your audience feel about the area touched by your offering? How do they want to feel? If you don’t have a very clear picture, spend time talking with members of your target audience so that you can experience their needs and desires firsthand.

Tell a story

Stories are a powerful tool, so invest in creating a narrative that your audience can relate to emotionally.

Use visuals

Choose images and videos that clearly support your story and are powerful enough to stick with the viewer long after they have seen your ad.

Integrate music and sound

Use music and sound effects that set a supporting mood and tone without overpowering the rest of the messaging. 

Implement these tips to craft commercials that use emotional appeal which stand out from the competition and resonate with your target audience. 

Use emotional appeal advertising in Email signatures

Your Signature says a lot about you, your business, and your cause. By including emotional triggers in the email signature, marketers hope to influence the reader’s behavior or attitude towards a brand, product, or service. Emotional appeals can take many forms, such as humor, fear, compassion, or excitement.

For example, an email signature might use a humorous tagline to create a positive association with a brand or product, or it might use a touching message to evoke empathy and encourage donations to a charity. The effectiveness of emotional appeals in email signatures depends on many factors, such as the target audience, the nature of the product or service being advertised, and the tone and language used in the email.

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Your call now

Put your new advertising acumen to the test! What kind of appeal is being used in each of the following calls to read this very article?

“Boost your marketing power! Discover how to leverage emotional appeal in advertising to make your brand unforgettable.” 

“Don’t let your brand get lost in a crowded market! Learn how to leverage emotional appeal in advertising and avoid being ignored by your audience.”

Let the emotions flow!