The Power of Emotional Advertising & Kahneman's System 1 Peak-End Rule
Over the years, advertisers have learned that appealing to consumers' emotions can be more effective than relying solely on rational persuasion. One psychological principle that has played a pivotal role in shaping this approach is Daniel Kahneman's System 1 thinking and his Peak-End Rule.
Emotional advertising operates on the premise that human beings are driven by their feelings and emotions. Our purchasing decisions, more often than not, are rooted in emotional responses rather than rational analysis. Kahneman's System 1 thinking, also known as “fast thinking”, is the automatic and intuitive mode of thought that guides many of our decisions. It relies on emotions, instincts, and heuristics rather than deep analytical thinking.
A function of System 1 is ‘Intensity Matching’ that connects feelings with economic actions. If you feel strongly about something, you’re more likely to invest into it. Kahneman calls it "the automatic process of the mental shotgun".
Kahneman's Peak-End Rule posits that people tend to remember experiences, including advertisements, primarily based on two key moments: the peak emotional moment and the end of the experience. This means that even if an advertisement is relatively long, consumers will base their memory and evaluation of it on the emotional high point and the concluding scene.
Creating emotional peaks in advertising is about evoking intense emotions that resonate with the target audience. These peaks can take various forms, such as heartwarming storytelling, humor, or awe-inspiring visuals. The goal is to make the audience feel something powerful that lingers in their memory.
Take, for example, the iconic Apple advertisements. They often feature sleek product showcases, combined with a minimalist aesthetic and a sense of wonder. These elements create emotional peaks that leave viewers with a sense of awe and desire.
Just as important as the emotional peak is the ending of an ad. This is the final impression that viewers carry with them. Advertisers should aim to conclude their ads on an emotional high note, leaving a positive and lasting mark.
Consistency throughout an emotional advertising campaign is key to reinforcing the emotional message. Advertisers must ensure that the emotional tone set at the beginning aligns with the peak and ending moments. A jarring inconsistency can disrupt the emotional flow and weaken the impact. For instance, Dove's Real Beauty Campaign consistently promotes self-acceptance and body positivity. This unwavering message reinforces the emotional connection with viewers throughout each advertisement.
Evaluating the success of emotional advertising campaigns can be challenging, as it involves capturing intangible emotions. However, businesses can employ a variety of metrics, such as brand recognition, social media engagement, and customer feedback, to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns. These metrics provide valuable insights into how consumers are responding emotionally.
Emotional Advertising & Sales Lift
Realeyes partnered with Mars, Incorporated and their Marketing Laboratory at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science to investigate what drives video advertising success.
We were able to distinguish between ads that sell and those that don’t with 75% accuracy. Successfully identifying emotional behaviour signals which together predicted an advert’s sales lift across all the product categories and markets tested means emotions can be linked to advertising effectiveness.