Be emotional (with your advertising) this Christmas
Emotion is everywhere at Christmas – from the cheesy music on the radio to the guilt about buying presents and sending greetings cards.
Apparently emotion needs to be used by marketers too, to elicit positive emotions at a time of stress and anxiety.
According to new research by Aparna Labroo of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Derek Rucker of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, by matching positive emotions of consumers with their negative counterparts, advertisers can maximize their ad strategy by crafting messages to ease negative feelings and create a more positive mindset.
“Advertisers have the creative control to strengthen an ad’s emotional appeal. They can show particular ads to offset a television show’s demeanor, offering up either happy or calming emotions to the viewer when watching a drama that evokes either sadness or anxiety,” said Rucker, associate professor of marketing at the Kellogg School. “Furthermore, marketing managers with flexible media, such as online and digital media, are able to tweak their messages to the mood of the population at large, even as the mood changes.”
The researchers hypothesized that matching negative emotions with specific positive outcomes can counteract consumers’ anxiety or stress. As part of the research, they provided evidence that specific emotions are associated with either approach orientations (sadness, anger and happiness) or avoidance orientations (anxiety, embarrassment and calmness).
Calmness or happiness?
To test this notion experimentally, participants recalled a past event that made them sad, angry, embarrassed or anxious. In turn, participants received an advertisement for a ski resort associated with either calmness or happiness. Participants reported their evaluation of the vacation destination as well as their current mood. The experiment found sad or angry participants evaluated the destination as offering happiness (matching in approach orientation) more favorably than a destination offering calmness. Anxious or embarrassed participants evaluated the destination as offering calmness (matching in affect orientation) more favorably than happiness. Overall, participants reported feeling better when receiving an advertisement containing a matching positive emotion.
Calmness best in tough economic times
“This research suggests marketing managers can enhance the persuasiveness of their advertising messages by associating their product with the appropriate emotions being experienced by consumers,” said Labroo, associate professor of marketing at Chicago Booth. “In tough economic times, when anxiety tends to be more prevalent, it is better for brands to use their advertising to associate their product with emotions of calmness rather than happiness. This subtlety makes a difference. On the other hand, those advertising during a depressing documentary, it would be better to consider advertising with an emphasis on happiness.”