Media Means Business

When marketing makes you cry; the power of emotion

In 2017 there’s nothing wrong with a man admitting that he cries. But there’s one trigger which still makes me feel a bit silly – advertising!


Want to listen to this article?


Crying at a commercial, while in many ways no different to any other story-telling, just doesn’t feel right. But I’ll admit it, I have. Not full-blown inconsolable wailing but a tear none the less.

I think the last time was that penguin. You know, Monty from the John Lewis Christmas ad of 2014. It’s just a beautifully told, heart-tugging … hang on a minute, I’m off again …

Using emotion in advertising or content marketing can certainly be a powerful tool.

According to Douglas Van Praet – author of Unconcious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing – emotions are the key factor in our decisions to buy a particular brand.

“Emotions don’t hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they’re made,” – Douglas Van Praet wrote in Fast Company.

As content creators, we work hard to find the right words to convey our message, but Van Praet says that emotions, not words, are humans’ innate universal language:

“If you want to generate action, you have to generate emotion.” 

 Using emotion for your content marketing

While you probably don’t have the budget (or penguin) to make a John Lewis-style video that will reduce grown men to tears, you can still use emotion in your content.

Every business has a story and sharing that story in a creative way is likely to be far more shareable and engaging than something more obvious.

I like to use accountants as an example, because in many ways the service they provide appears to be a hard one to market.

However, by using the key component of successful content marketing – focusing on the customer – we could create something wonderful!

Here’s an idea for an accountant’s video with emotion (you are free to use this as long as you credit me as your creative consultant 😉):

A young boy wakes up and runs downstairs, he’s excited because it’s his birthday. His parents are there and he opens his presents before looking forlorn. Where is the present he has been dreaming of for months?

Then dad produces the bike from behind the sofa! The boy is delighted.

“Can we go for a bike ride dad?”

But dad can’t – it’s tax return deadline day and he hasn’t filed his yet.

There’s the little boy’s sad face again.

“It could have been so different” the voice-over says, before we see father and son enjoying their bike ride together, laughing without a care in the world.

“XYZ Accountants – we’ll do the work while you enjoy life.”

OK, so a little cheesy, but you get the idea.

Show your audience the real-world benefits of the service or product you offer.

Giving a glimpse of how you will improve their life, perhaps by saving them time or effort, is powerful.

It shouldn’t be the only tool you use and will be more effective if used sparingly – there’s only so much emotion we can take!

Be careful to ensure that the use of emotion is regulated. Take a look at the video for window cleaning product Windex and see if you think it’s gone a bit far!

Oh, and if your child has a birthday coming up and you need help with your media creation or content marketing, give me a shout!

Please follow and like us: