The Importance of Emotion in Advertising

people sitting around a table talking

Advertising is to get consumers to buy something. Tugging on emotions is a strong way to get consumers to pay attention. People rely on their emotions when they make purchases and develop brand loyalty. They often emotionally connect to the content of an ad and those emotions come up when they see the product in person or online. They may not understand that their emotions are guiding their purchases, but advertisers know this.

When you watch the ads that become internet sensations they often rely heavily on emotional content such as friendship and happiness. These sensations end up encouraging people to make certain decisions when it comes to purchases. Emotional advertising relates to what it is that people want to see and how they want to feel.

How Emotions Are Used in Advertising

Emotional advertising is used to drive connection and awareness. People have several core emotions and emotional advertising seeks to draw on these feelings.


Brands that use people who are smiling and laughing along with their friends and family are trying to trigger a happy emotional reaction in customers. This positivity increases interest in a product and in the ad itself. When you research many of the most shared ads or ads with the most engagement you will find that happiness and positivity are the main themes. In addition, cute animals and babies bring up feelings of happiness. You can see this with various electronics commercials where people receive a new phone. They are portrayed as happy and thrilled about their phones and the aspects. Emotional advertising that produces joy draws people into a brand. 


Advertising is not always about connecting to positivity. If you have seen many ads you will know that there is a trend of emotional content that moves people to tears. These ads are not necessarily trying to make a consumer sad. Instead, they are focused on creating inspiration and showing people what they are capable of. These ads tend to include heartbreaking storylines that show people overcoming obstacles and recognizes the struggles that people face. 


Advertisers who use surprise or fear are trying to help consumers make informed decisions about real life obstacles. Some advertisements that use fear intend show the effects of certain environmental issues. The scare tactics used in that type of emotional advertising are meant to get people to truly think about what is going on in the world today and how their choices make a difference. Some surprise used in advertising, though, is not fear-based. It is about positive surprises such as people coming home after being deployed or families coming together. You also see this in car commercials, where cars are gifted to people. The surprise and happiness on their faces will attract others and remind them of that brand or product. 


Anger is used sparingly in emotional advertising but it is definitely a way to get people's attention. By sharing realistic situations that are upsetting or unacceptable, advertisers can make a point. Negative images and stories that are then turned into action items can get consumers to make choices about their buying habits.

If you are already thinking about the way that you will use emotions in advertising then you are on your way to an exciting career in a creative field. Pursue your interests with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Graphic Design or a Bachelor of Science in Applied Marketing and Advertising from Grand Canyon University.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.