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Olympic Inspiration: The Pull of Emotive Advertising

Olympic inspiration - The pull of emotive advertising

Olympic Inspiration: The Pull of Emotive Advertising

Even if you have no interest in sport, there is something about the Olympics that makes even the most athletically apathetic tune in and take notice. That something is the drive, determination and dedication of the Olympic athletes. These individuals train tirelessly for the opportunity to prove themselves at their most prodigious competition. As spectators, we get to know them, their stories and for a couple of weeks watch how their life’s goal plays out for the world to see.

What’s more, we witness the raw emotion seen only when the human condition is pushed to its limit. For some, hopes and dreams will be realized, while others will be crushed. There are no second chances; although, sometimes the difference between winning or losing simply comes down to chance.

Emotive advertising

What is not left to chance are the messages of the Olympic sponsors. The advertising these sponsors employ bank on the human element to pull on the heart strings of their consumers in the hopes of propelling their brands forward. And with good reason – emotive advertising has proven its impact on the mind of the consumer.
Emotion within advertising, is not unlike the emotion felt during the Olympic games. It goes beyond borders. Ultimately, no matter who we are or where we call home, we understand and truly relate to one another on a primitive, human level.

It’s been done before
Appealing to human emotion in advertising is nothing new. Some of the strongest brands in the world have successfully leveraged emotion in their campaigns. Let’s look at a few:

AT&T: Reach Out

Dove: Real Beauty

Coca Cola: Open Happiness

BMW: Feeling Remains

How does it work?
Although it isn’t new, emotive advertising has always required an authentic approach to be successful. The emotion behind the message must align directly with the brand. And, the audience must be able to effortlessly make that connection in order to trust the brand message. Basically, you can’t just insert your logo at the end of a heart felt ad, having no relation to your brand, and expect it will resonate with your market. As we all know, the implications of poor brand alignment within advertising messaging, emotional or otherwise, can be catastrophic.

Social implications
It is no secret that a misstep in brand advertising will cause your market to turn on you, and their good opinion once lost, takes a lot to gain back. What was once the brand influencing the market, is now the market influencing the brand. Persuasion has taken a back seat to public preference. Brands have their hands tied, so to speak, and are simply trying to keep hold of their reputations within the social realm.

Emotionally attached
The more technologically connected consumers become, the less emotionally attached (or loyal) they can feel. It has been said that as consumers, we make decisions emotionally and then justify them rationally. No consumer goes to the effort of typing something online without the hopes of being commented on, liked, shared or retweeted. Now more than ever, emotive advertising could be the key to bringing the consumer and brand back together. Social media has provided an outlet for consumers to be heard, and if brands don’t take action, they will be left behind. After all, if brand is a living entity, it only makes sense that it would appeal to its market’s wants and needs in an emotional context.

You don’t have to be an Olympic sponsor to realize the benefit of emotive advertising. And, it doesn’t matter if your brand is a soft drink, telephone, car or beauty product. In an effort to better understand consumers, let’s not just speak to ourselves, lets speak to each other. It could be just the thing our brands need.

Lindsay Sleightholm

Author: Lindsay Sleightholm

Lindsay Sleightholm dares to take risks that lend strength to her design in whatever medium she is working. Her conceptual thinking adds to her nimbleness and her innate sense of brand. With over 13 solid years of experience in design and production of print-ready, digital and interactive creative, Lindsay is an intrinsic part of the creative process from conception to delivery.

Comments ( 4 )

  • Excellent article, Lindsay. Brand managers and marketers would do well to look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to understand the value of emotive advertising. After physiological and safety needs, the next stage is love and friendship (emotional security). By teasing on the emotions with concerns about frailty or inadequacy, it invokes a response that is stronger than for the more intellectual needs because it represents a threat to a more fundamental need.

    The Olympics, to me, try to set the highest standard in worldwide friendship and respect. You can relate to the sacrifices many have made to be there and the environments they have endured. You can understand the great undertaking it is to be elite at anything. It shows us how good it should be. Even in defeat you see the strength of the athletes. The Olympics are naturally emotive and a beacon for marketers on the power of emotive advertising.

    • Lindsay Sleightholm

      Thanks Brian!

      You are so right. And, emotional connection/security isn’t just a want, it’s a need – an important one.

      As for the Olympic athletes, it’s not hard to admire them. While in the heat of competition it’s all about performance, but afterwards (in most cases) no matter who comes out on top, you see the respect they have for one another. Their emotions are visible to the world, and we get to witness the gamut.

  • I think the most fundemental dimension to emotive advertising, branding, marketing, etc. is sheer authenticity. Unless there is some kernel of truth easily identified within an emotional sell, brands risk being pegged as mental manipulators that shamelessly pluck at the heart strings of consumers simply to make a buck. This lack of senserity is where I think most companies go horribly wrong and it is horribly obvious almost instantly.

    In the great divide between the new business world and the old, I believe there is still an astonishing number of brands that stick to the “average consumer is stupid” script and therefore produce advertising that completely exploits what these companies feel is consumer naïveté.

    The new generation of business, I believe, is adapting quickly to a new world where the educated consumer is no longer the minority. The role of social media and digital interaction has no doubt changed everything. I think brands that understand this and tastefully but authentically massage out their emotional value will no doubt build longer, stronger relationships with their consumers. Those that take this approach for granted will no doubt continue to fester in a forgotten wasteland of greedy business practices and sinking ships. Great article!

  • Miriam Hara

    Alex, great perspective! I do believe however, it has been quite some time since companies operated on the assumption that the “average consumer is stupid”… way before the “new generation of business”. What is occurring in the new generation of business is that consumers want to be spoken to not at… and that is a very fundamental change in the communication and creative tone of advertising. Brand Voice is becoming more important in the mix of communication attributes. Check out this post on Brand Voice:

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