Have you ever watched a commercial or an advertisement that motivated you, made you angry, or even made you cry? If yes, then what you saw is an effective emotional appeal advertising.

By nature, humans are the first and foremost emotional creatures in the world. Unlike animals that are driven by instincts, emotions motivate people’s actions. Emotions are associated with people’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. If you want to make other individuals act, then the most effective way to do it is to trigger their emotions.

This is why marketers create emotional appeal to trigger an audience’s emotions

In this blog post, we will show you why emotional appeal advertising can become a powerful tool for your business in Malaysia and how you can incorporate it.

Emotional Appeal Advertising: Examples and Case Studies

What Is Emotional Appeal: The Basics

In marketing, there are three main kinds of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. Unlike logos, which relies on logic-based arguments to appeal to people’s rational thoughts, pathos or emotional appeal aims to elicit emotions. 

By appealing to your consumers’ emotional states, you can easily influence their actions. Using emotional manipulation, you can encourage them to purchase products, participate in events, and other activities that can benefit your business.

Emotional appeals can establish an emotional connection between your business and consumers. By focusing on your audiences’ emotions, you can make it easier for them to connect with your business on a personal level.

Since purely information advertisements are hard to grasp, many businesses rely on ads that can bring out a customer’s emotional side. But, is emotional appeal really that powerful in advertising? Let’s find out!

Understanding the Power of Emotions in Advertising

Researchers who studied rational vs emotional appeal revealed that advertisements and commercials that appeal to emotion are more effective. In 2023, USC (University of California) discovered that 31% of emotional appeal ads succeeded compared to only 16% of rational thinking-focused commercials.

USC’s research shows how powerful emotional marketing really is when it comes to getting customers’ attention. This can help businesses influence consumers’ buying behavior, which can lead to sales.

Consumers’ emotional responses toward advertisements are now valued more than the actual content of commercials. It’s because the emotional response can influence consumers’ intent to explore and buy products, making emotional marketing the go-to of many businesses.

To give you more idea, here’s why emotional appeal in advertising is efficient:

  • Advertisements that can trigger emotions always make great first impressions compared to commercials filled with product information.
  • Emotional appeal creates a sensory (visual, auditory, or olfactory) experience for customers, which is one it’s also called “sensorial emotional appeal.”
  • Emotion-focused ads help consumers make decisions based on emotion rather than on logic or practicality.
  • Commercials that target emotions inspire people to act based on their feelings.

Incorporating emotional appeal in your commercials can greatly influence consumer behavior. Now that you know its importance, it’s time to identify the different kinds of emotional appeal.

Types of Emotional Appeals in Advertising

What’s great about emotional advertising is that businesses have numerous options, thanks to the wide variety of emotions that people can have. If you will check emotional appeal examples in writing, you will learn how versatile this advertising method is.

You can trigger people’s negative emotions, such as anger and guilt, to emphasize serious problems that can be solved by your products. This can be seen in one UNICEF’s emotional appeal taglines, such as “He’s Starving. We’re Not. It’s Time To Share.”

Such an argument can provoke consumers’ anger and guilt that out there, somewhere is starving and they can only help them by donating. Triggering people’s guilt and anger is just one of the different types of emotional appeal tactics.

Other emotional appeal types involve eliciting happiness, sadness, empathy, etc. Let’s dive into other kinds of emotional advertising appeals and how they are used in different marketing campaigns.

Types of Emotional Appeals in Advertising

Positive Emotions for Brand Association

If you want to establish a strong and positive association to the brand, then it would be best to induce positive emotions among your consumers. Among the recipient’s specific emotions you can focus on are happiness, trust, and admiration.

The positive emotional appeal is effective if you want to foster lasting connections with consumers. By sharing heartwarming stories, genuine human interactions, and feel-good moments of joy, you can create a memorable experience.

But, you need to remember that you create an emotional reaction that’s beyond your product’s features. This can be a warm friendship, a thrilling adventure, or a story of success. 

When you convey a positive emotional appeal, you can make your customers remember your brand whenever they’re with their friends, going on adventures, or experiencing success in life.

Positive Emotions for Brand Association

Fear and Anxiety for Persuasive Messaging

Not all emotions can persuade viewers to purchase a product or service. If you want to encourage them to make immediate action, then you must target their fears and anxieties.

Triggering an audience’s sense of fear and anxiety is one of the most effective appeals in emotional marketing. By incorporating tactics that can scare your audience or trigger their anxiety, you can get strong responses from them.

This will likely happen as people generally respond more often if they have negative emotions. Once you properly leverage consumers’ fear and anxiety, your advertisement can encourage them to act upon their emotions and interact with your business because fears are directly related to people’s deepest desires, such as security.

They will either purchase your products, seek assistance, or participate in your marketing campaigns. No matter how they interact with your business, there will certainly be benefits.

Fear and Anxiety for Persuasive Messaging

Humor and Entertainment to Connect Emotionally

Another positive emotional appeal that can help your business connect with consumers emotionally is humor and entertainment. There’s no denying that making people laugh is harder than making them cry. But, if done correctly, you can establish genuine emotional connections with your customers.

According to Indeed, humor-focused emotional appeal can also create memorable experiences. By writing funny skits, you can entertain and educate your target audience about the brand simultaneously.

But, you must remember that this emotional appeal will only be effective if your consumers can understand the context of your advertisement. While you can make an audience feel happy, others might find your commercial corny.

This is why it is important to have cultural and situational awareness before you create your advertisements.

Humor and Entertainment to Connect Emotionally

Tugging at Heartstrings with Sentimental Storytelling

Many marketers tend to disregard sadness and sympathy. But, little do they know that tugging at customers’ heartstrings with sentimental storytelling changes how they perceive your brand.

Sharing a captivating story can trigger a certain emotion that will linger among your target audiences. With sentimental storytelling, you can get a strong emotional response from them using only words.

For example, if your products are eco-friendly straws, you can tell a story about cute animals that died after eating plastic straws, like sea turtles. They’ll feel sad about the turtle’s death, allowing you to encourage them to take action to prevent this from happening.

Empathy and Compassion in Emotional Appeal Advertising

When consumers have empathy for the subjects in your commercial, there’s a high chance that they’ll act on their emotions. This emotional appeal advertising tactic is usually used by organizations that raise money for a cause.

If you want to trigger their empathy and make them compassionate towards your brand, you need to provide a worthy cause. You can help consumers empathize with affected subjects by posting an advertisement explaining the situation and aiding their decision-making by telling them how they can help.

Case Studies of Successful Emotional Appeal Advertising Campaigns

Thanks to emotional appeals, many companies were able to have successful advertising campaigns that influenced a lot of consumers. 

Here are some advertisement examples that heavily rely on emotional appeal.

World Wildlife Fund (Fear)

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched the advertisement “Stop Climate Change Before It Changes You.” 

This is an effective example of emotional appeal that targets fear appeal. The campaign featured a terrifying image of a man with a head of a fish.

Coca-Cola (Happiness)

Coca-Cola’s commercials have always been about happiness. They almost always create ads aimed to encourage the spirit of giving. 

Coca-Cola’s advertisements use catchy taglines, such as “Open Happinessand “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.”

Maxis (Pride)

This Malaysian ad became quite popular. Maxis is one of the brands that aim to evoke feelings of confidence in consumers, even though they’re in the telecommunication industry. The #ThisIsMyName ad is a great example of emotional appeal marketing that triggers people’s pride.

It’s about a boy who’s name doesn’t quite fit his persona. The moral of the story is that there’s much more to a person than their persona or outward appearance.

Always (Anger)

American menstrual hygiene brand Always has one of the best emotional appeal ads that aims to trigger consumers’ anger. Its “#LikeaGirl” campaign went viral in 2015 after it was aired during the Super Bowl. 

The #LikeaGirl was created to turn the statement “like a girl” into a compliment instead of an insult.

Cultural Sensitivity and Ethical Considerations in Emotional Advertising

Emotional appeal advertising can help grow your business. However, there would be negative consequences if you’re not responsible. It’s your responsibility as a business owner to upload culturally sensitive and ethical standards when appealing to consumers’ emotions.

Among the things you need to avoid is using logical fallacies. Remember, if your commercial contains logical fallacy, it could destroy consumers’ trust. You should also need to avoid manipulating them using guilt and other strong emotions. 

You must keep in mind that emotional appeal ads should not be manipulative, adhere to ethical guidelines, and resonate with different cultures.

Best Practices for Creating Emotionally Compelling Advertisements

Creating compelling emotional content is not a piece of cake. You need to know what are the best practices for establishing your emotional appeal marketing campaign. Are you ready?

Here are some of them:

  • Know Your Audience and Product: In order to craft an advertising objective, you need to know who your customers are and deeply understand your product.
  • Use Storytelling: Once you completely understand your own product and audiences, use storytelling to create your emotional appeal advertisement based on your advertising goal.
  • Be Authentic: Instead of manipulating your viewer, do your best to be as authentic as possible. You can provide factual evidence to support your emotional appeal ads. Supporting your argument with facts and evidence can build trust among customers.
  • Incorporate Eye-Catching Visuals: As mentioned earlier, emotional appeal creates a sensory experience. If you want to get your customers’ full attention, then use music, pictures, videos, and colors.

Implementing emotional appeals in your business campaigns can make your consumers remember your products in their everyday lives. But, remember to choose the right emotions to trigger and avoid manipulating your customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the uses of emotional appeal?

Emotional appeal advertising can trigger consumersemotions and motivate people to take action based on their feelings. It is a top-tier persuasive marketing strategy.

Why is emotional appeal used in advertising?

Emotional appeal ads are used to build strong, long-lasting connections between brands and customers.

What are the benefits of using emotional appeal advertising?

The benefits of emotional appeal advertising include the following:


  • Build genuine connections with customers.
  • Influence consumers‘ behaviors.
  • Create consumer communities.
  • Engage customer loyalty.
  • Establish more inclusive experiences for consumers.