Emotion in Advertising

A remarkable thing happened at a training session I was running last week. There were about 50 people in the audience, many of whom were female, and I played ‘Sketches’, an execution of the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign (see below). At the end of it at least 3 people were in tears. This completely took me by surprise because

(a) being a marketing department, I thought they would have been more analytical and detached from marketing messages and able to take a more objective, less involved perspective
(b) I couldn’t quite see what was so moving or touching about the video. Sure, I understood it, but didn’t get how impactful it would be

I guess the key learning for me from this experience is that it’s hard to control the emotional impact of advertising. If it moves you, it moves you and there’s nothing you can really do about it, which I guess is what makes emotional advertising so powerful. Secondly, always look at the impact of the ad from the perspective of the target audience. I – like many people – think I’m pretty good at judging creative work. However, be careful. It’s not what you think, it’s what they – your intended audience think.


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