In the book “Twenty Ads That Shook the World,” James Twitchell writes about N.W. Ayer & Son, an advertising agency with a serious problem. One of their clients wanted to sell colorless rocks. These rocks were good for almost nothing except drill bits. What was even worse, the darn things last forever and are found in tremendous oversupply in South Africa, Zaire, Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Australia, Siberia and Canada.

For N.W. Ayer & Son, it was a puzzle. Their client, DeBeers Consolidated Mines, had made some inroads with consumers after World War I by linking diamonds with engagement and marriage, but the idea wasn’t widely accepted. In April 1947, Frances Gerety, one of their copywriters, put her head down in exhaustion. How could she link romance, valueless crystals and human needs in a way that would move these stones? In an inspired moment she wrote “A Diamond is Forever.”

Look where diamonds are now.

Other Emotional Marketing Examples

Brands like GoPro, Coca-Cola, and Apple deliver campaigns that represent their company mission and vision. GoPro wants its audience to feel that they’re getting a product that will enhance their adventures and allow them to capture even the craziest of tricks, jumps, hikes, etc. Apple wants its audience to feel like they’re getting something that is not only innovative, shiny and new, but also useful—a tool that will make day-to-day tasks easier to accomplish.

They also want their audience to feel like they’re part of a lifestyle or community of thinkers and doers. They do this with commercials that represent people of all backgrounds. Pay attention to the look and feel as well: Crisp video and sound, soft glows, bright colors and happy faces; people doing everyday tasks in innovative ways.

Now, think of Coca-Cola. Remember those polar bear ads? You’ll notice a common theme many of us strive for and can relate to: bliss, enjoyment, happiness. The polar bears crack open a Coke bottle and look so overwhelmingly satisfied and happy that it makes us want one too. Those emotions are all deeply integrated in Coca-Cola ad campaigns because they’re also ingrained in Coca-Cola’s mission. Part of the reason why is because happiness represents one of many current cultural values.

Emotional Marketing, Explained

Emotion plays a critical role in guiding our instinctive reaction to events happening around us. We monitor our environment constantly and automatically, but with so many things going on around us, we need some means to determine what to pay attention to. From a psychological perspective, when we feel something, we think, “What can I make of this, what can I do about this?” The deep response often happens first and we then rationalize it and make sense of it cognitively. This can’t be a conscious process – it would take too long. So the monitoring process constantly references existing memories as those memories are spontaneously triggered by what is happening at the time.

It is the emotional properties of those memories that determine whether we pay attention or not, and how much attention we pay. The more intense the emotional charge of the associated memories, the more attention we pay and can lead us to a certain behavior—like word-of-mouth sharing or social media liking.

If the association is positive it is likely we will feel attracted to what is happening. If it is negative, we will feel repelled. This is an important reason why advertising that creates a positive emotional response performs better than an ad that doesn’t.

It is critical for marketers to understand the role of emotions in human decision-making and behavior. All human behavior is driven by emotional input derived from these stored visualizations. As a marketer, if you can tap into a strong, positive emotional response from your consumers – you’ve tapped a gold mine.