As the saying goes, analysing humour is like dissecting a frog – few are interested, and the frog dies.
The same could be said of creativity in advertising – great advertising can be killed by over-analysis.
Analysing humour is like dissecting a frog – few are interested, and the frog dies.
The now famous Cadbury’s drumming gorilla ad nearly never got made. At a recent event, Phil Rhumbol, the client who commissioned the ad, described the mountains of evidence that had to be provided to prove this crazy idea would boost sales of Dairy Milk.
The evidence couldn’t prove that, but the ad got made, and the rest is history.
Looking back at the ad nearly ten years later, it’s still a joy to watch. But who really wants to dissect the reason why you love watching a gorilla pounding the drums to the velvet tones of Phil Collins?
The ad’s power, apart from its originality, is emotion. Its power is irrational. It defies dissection. The ad made no sense, but it worked – a drumming gorilla re-ignited a nation’s love affair with a well-loved brand, and because of that alone, Cadbury’s sales grew by 6% during the eight-week campaign.
Now, the ad’s overriding emotion – joy – is at the heart of the Cadbury brand.
Why is emotional advertising powerful?
As we saw in our post about short-termism, long-term campaigns are more effective.
Emotional campaigns can triple profitability
Evidence presented in Marketing Multiplied shows a strong, long-term rational campaign can double profitability over 3 years. But an emotional long-term campaign can triple it.
What is it about emotional campaigns that makes them so effective?
There is now a strong body of research to show the omnipresent role emotion plays in all our decisions.
Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has shown how deeply human decision-making is rooted in our emotions.
Extending this view to marketing communications, Paul Feldwick and Robert Heath found evidence that the old, informational persuasion model of advertising was broken, and in a 2014 paper, Heath opined:
“Successful brand-building in advertising is 99% subconscious seduction, 1% conscious persuasion.”
Similarly, Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow outlines how our minds are prone to many cognitive biases and mental shortcuts that pre-dispose us to certain errors. One of those biases is that we tend to attach more value to a choice that feels right, and we are more inclined to trust information, or choose a brand that feels familiar.
From a marketing perspective, as Binet & Field say in their research on advertising effectiveness,
“Emotional … campaigns … work by touching emotions or feelings in consumers … The intention is to transfer these emotions to the brand and consequently to build empathy in the consumer/brand relationship. Through empathy, they seek to influence choice.”
In other words, the power of a good brand and advertising strategy is to create shortcuts in evaluation – to build a bond that gets consumers to choose your brand over others in the moment of purchase.
What should brands do?
Should all brands rush headlong into commissioning their version of the drumming gorilla or a John Lewis ad?
Yes, and no. Clearly, emotional advertising drives businesses – it is more memorable, driving brand awareness, differentiation and durability. Over the long-term, this can have a powerful impact on brand growth.
But Binet & Field’s extensive research also shows the importance of short-term, ‘rational’ direct response campaigns, which are much more effective in driving consideration, trial in purchase in the short-term.
In reality, short- and long-term go drumstick-in-hand. Emotional content persuades, and rational campaigns nudge closer to the point of purchase. Long- and short-term need to be balanced.
This brings us back to creativity.
Without brave, original creative strategy and creative campaigns, there’s no vehicle for emotion to work its magic.
Equally, commercial creativity is there to help a brand grow, which is where research and strategy help create the foundations and direction for creative, emotional campaigns to flourish and be effective.