Awesome Commercials That Employ Emotional Appeal

Mike Schoultz
4 min readJul 8, 2020

Does your business use emotional appeal to win the hearts of your customers? Have you ever given it a try? David Freemantle says feelings have a critical role in this regard. Yet few of any ads will make an emotional appeal. They will try to amuse and dazzle more than touch the heart. Which factor do you feel is most effective in drawing attention to your advertisements? There are many to choose from, aren’t they?

This is a critical missed opportunity in our view. We have studied and evaluated commercials for more than 5 years. Our focus is somewhat unique; we aren’t interested in entertainment value, we are interested in business impact. We study each spot and evaluate its power to build the business and to build the brand.

While emotional spots are not common, they are some of the most effective we have seen. Consider these emotional spots:

Bell

Have you seen the remarkable branding video design from this South African business? The Bell’s TV commercial features a father whose intrepid spirit demonstrates just what it takes to be a true man of character. The video was created to market and build the brand. It is a very simple story. It advocates learning to read no matter your age or status in society. To us, it creates pure magic with the story, the visuals, the music, and the emotion. It certainly finds emotional triggers

Not a real secret here. The story and music that are created, while familiar, are as distinctive as they are heartwarming. Watch the faces, actions, and passions of the people in the story and listen to the music. They draw you into the emotion. Experiences that trigger our emotions are saved and consolidated in lasting memory because the emotions generated by the experiences signal our brains that the experiences are important to remember. Certainly, that kind of emotion in this story, isn’t there?

If you haven’t seen it, watch it now, it is only 2 minutes and it will inspire you. It is certainly easily in our top 5 of all time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VteDp3IK-60

Jeep

Last year Jeep ran a remarkable commercial saluting the troops fighting overseas. The ad was serious and emotional. It noted, “There will be a seat left open, a light left on, a favorite dinner waiting, a warm bed made…because in your home, in our hearts, you’ve been missed. You’ve been needed, you’ve been cried for, prayed for. You are the reason we push on.” Jeep touched deep emotions about loss and longing. And the spot worked to build the brand; it made people feel proud of Jeep and its values.

Budweiser

Perhaps more than any other advertiser, Budweiser knows the power of emotion. Over the years the brand has run a series of emotional spots featuring the iconic Clydesdales. The 2013 spot, for example, highlighted the emotional bond between a horse and its trainer. It was one of the top spots of the year.

It isn’t easy to create an emotional spot for any commercial. Many environments are fun and energetic and people aren’t primed for serious themes. And, in many ways, the safe approach that many brands will take is to air funny and lively commercials.

But, if we are lucky, some brands will tap into our emotions. And if they do it well they will emerge as some of the most effective spots. Here are eight great examples we have reviewed recently that certainly touched and won our hearts.

Guinness

In this commercial, Guinness uses an inspiring story to convey its emotional influence. Like great stories, it has a beginning where sympathetic characters encounter a complicating situation, a middle where the characters confront and attempt to resolve the situation and an end where the outcome is revealed. It does not interpret or explain the action in the story for the audience.

Instead, a good story allows each member of the audience to interpret the story and its emotion as he or she understands the action. This is why people find good, emotional stories so appealing and why they find advertising that simply conveys facts and information boring.

Here is the Guinness ad video to refresh you or for you to review in case you haven’t seen it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au8Y98Rgxbk

Guinness’s marketing story based on emotion has flipped traditional beer advertising on its head by getting rid of the template and telling a story — a real emotional story — that connects with people. The responses were overwhelmingly positive … customers and particularly the target customers are looking for meaningful stories. The emotion in this marketing strategy certainly is addressing this end state in our opinion.

Zillow

The family in this ad is looking for a new home using the real estate company Zillow. It eventually is able to find exactly what they are looking for. What the mother and children don’t expect is what is waiting for them on moving day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3bZz_JHyyA

Some of the best emotional stories effectively use the element of surprise like Zillow has done here.

Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of a small business. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.

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Mike Schoultz

Mike Schoultz writes about improving the performance of business. Bookmark his blog for stories and articles. www.digitalsparkmarketing.com