No, The Super Bowl Ads Weren’t ‘Too Emotional’

We know one big Super Bowl winner already – hip-hop legend Missy Elliott has seen an 1000% boost to her iTunes sales after she joined Katy Perry for the half-time show. For the brands who paid to advertise, the picture is inevitably less clear. After all, the short-term benefits won’t be known for weeks – and the long-term benefit of famous advertising is best measured over years.

Missy Elliott

That isn’t stopping commentators weighing in, of course. Consensus has it that 2015 saw a dreary crop of ads, and we wouldn’t necessarily argue. What’s more concerning is where the finger is being pointed. In a Forbes piece yesterday, Derek Rucker of the Kellogg School made a curious comparison. “There were lots of ads trying to pull at heartstrings with different levels of success. There was less of your funny, humorous, in-your-face advertising [in this game], and clearly a lot more emotional advertising.”

This, according to Rucker and Jennifer Rooney, the piece’s writer, was a problem. Tilt the balance of ads too far to the sombre and it stops being congruent with the Super Bowl’s party atmosphere. It’s a good point. The trouble is, Rucker’s apparent distinction between “emotional advertising” and “funny, humorous, in-your-fact advertising” is just not right. Continue reading

“Sadvertising”: Tears Are Not Enough?

This week, Fast Company got a bunch of online attention for a piece on trends in emotional advertising – “The Rise Of Sadvertising”. It’s a great piece, and more than a catchy title – the article’s central argument is that the demands of an online, social audience has made advertisers realise the importance of making emotional ads more. In order to work socially, video ads have to make audiences feel something – the message-heavy approach simply won’t cut it.



As you might guess from the title, the piece focuses on emotional ads which are meant to make you feel sad – with tales of clients demanding commercials that will make audiences cry! Naturally we agree with the emphasis on emotional advertising – and if it takes chasing virals to make people embrace that, so be it! But sadness on its own isn’t a royal road to an effective ad – it can be a brilliant strategy, but it needs something else. Continue reading

South-East Asian Advertising: What Works?

Here’s a question we get asked sometimes. If emotion is the main driver of advertising effectiveness, and if there’s a common set of universal human emotions – does the same advertising work all around the world?

The answer, of course, is no. We’ve researched almost 4000 ads in 43 countries, and we’ve consistently found that the most powerful and effective commercials are emotional – and use the positive emotions of happiness and surprise. But beyond that emotion is highly culturally sensitive – an ad that makes people happy in one market might leave others entirely cold.

We recently did some self-funded testing work in Thailand and Indonesia to further explore what makes emotional advertising work there. These are the two largest economies in ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) and Thailand in particular has a reputation as a regional bellwether: what works there ought to work across South-East Asia. Maria Spinelli, Vice President Southeast Asia at BrainJuicer, will be presenting what we found on May 6th at a WFA (World Federation Of Advertisers) Café Content meeting.

Here’s a sneak peek at what creates emotion in these two markets. Continue reading

Happy Talk

Have you been surveyed by the happiness patrol? A growing number of official, governmental studies are looking at happiness on a national level. The UK initiative, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010, recently issued its latest findings – a miniscule uptick in the national mood, credited to the Olympics – and they’ve been broadly criticised by Arianna Huffington.

Huffington’s points are that happiness is too one-dimensional a measure to give a useful picture of people’s deeper well-being, and you’d be better off with a basket of measures – including levels of depressive illness, days lost to stress, and so on.


The Olympics Opening Ceremony – did it really raise the UK’s “national mood”?

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Eight Days Of Emotion No.5: Happiness

Happiness is the most important emotion we measure. It plays a role in every positive marketing or research outcome and is absolutely central to most. Whether you’re looking at the effectiveness of an advert, the progress of a new product or the value of a new idea, the single most important question you can ask is: does it make people feel happy?

Nominated by one BrainJuicer staffer as the happiest song in the world!

Put this starkly, you might think it’s too good to be true. Can one positive emotion really act as a proxy for so many outcomes? But there are excellent scientific reasons for the importance of happiness. Continue reading

Door No.19: The Visceral Surfer

Into the final stretch of our Advent Calendar of Experiments…

The Experiment: This experiment is still ongoing – we’re just getting the results in now, but we thought we’d include it as an example of “work in progress”.

We know that emotion and visceral states are crucial to understanding shopper behaviour. But how could we apply those ideas online – what makes a visit to a website emotionally different from a visit to a shop? There’s a whole different range of information needs and goals, for a start – and for many sites serendipity plays a huge part. We’ve been working with Wakoopa to try and find more out about emotion and the web.

Does the Mail make its users happy? Read on to find out…

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Oh Happy Day

There’s a lot to digest in this short Wired article – a grab-bag of studies on happiness which the mag has bundled up under the cheeky premise that money can indeed make you happy. But actually, most of the prescriptions it makes can be done on a budget. Instead the general point is that – with one important exception – we feel happiness in the moment.

So happiness comes from experiences not material goods, but it comes from repeated quite nice experiences rather than individual intense ones. So the article contradicts itself a little – would seeing a baby cheetah on the Serengeti once really make you happier than stroking a pet kitten every morning?*

You are now 10% happier. Congratulations!

But in general the piece makes a lot of sense. We know that decisions are a result of what happens in the moment, so it follows that emotional reactions would largely be a result of immediate circumstances too. Longer term factors seem to be – to borrow a phrase from economics – “priced in” to your level of happiness.

It’s worth understanding happiness, not just for the obvious personal reasons, but because happy people decide differently from unhappy ones. When BrainJuicer looked at shoppers, for instance, they found happy shoppers were generally less interested in promotional items than their miserable counterparts – though they didn’t actually spend any more.

*Actually, you might do better with the cheetah if you knew you were going to see one in the future. This is the exception to the “in the moment” rule – anticipation is a big contributor to happiness, because it’s a happy experience in its own right. As the Wired piece says, “anticipation is a source of free happiness”. So start anticipating tomorrow’s Brian Juicer Blog post right now and you’ll get far more joy from it than if you just read it when it’s published.

(Thanks to Stefan Schafer for spotting the Wired piece!)