top of page

Emotional marketing: What can you learn from how major brands utilise emotional messages

Having a unique selling proposition (USP) isn’t enough in a crowded marketplace, especially if your audience doesn’t buy into your brand ideology and values. This is exactly why emotional marketing is an effective strategy when you want your brand to stand out.

Studies have proved that emotions greatly influence or in some cases determine our buying decisions. Consumers may use rational analysis when researching for a product and various alternatives, but emotion is often what gives them the final push to make a final decision.

Effects of Emotional Marketing on Consumer Behaviour

Big brands have long been infusing emotional messages in their marketing. Buyers then associate the products from these brands with the emotions that their communications spark. When it comes down to it, consumers purchase the feeling they get from your brand.

What can you learn about emotional marketing from major brands?

For the sake of understanding what it takes to make an impactful emotional marketing campaign, let’s break down one ad that we felt had a strong emotional message that didn’t necessarily relate to the company’s brands.

This ad is from Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Thank You, Mom campaign. The goal of this campaign was to use the 2010 Olympics as an opportunity to unify P&G’s 34 brands under one voice. This meant creating a connection that would not only link to their brand purpose but also feel authentic across a global audience.

The company produced a series of ads over the years before Olympic tournaments showing how all of the participants had one thing in common, champions are born from the nurturing care of a mother or maternal figure.

This was P&G’s most successful global campaign. Their use of emotional marketing was able to get them 76 billion global media impressions, 74 million global views and over 370 million Twitter interactions.

Here’s what you should consider if you want to get the same or better results from your emotional marketing strategy:

1. Understanding your audience always comes first

This can’t be emphasised enough. Knowing your audience is a critical step when it comes to emotional marketing. Even before deciding which emotion you want to use in your marketing, take the time to do some target audience research.

Your goal should be to create marketing messages that resonate with your audience on an emotional level. This will only be possible by understanding what their values (e.g. well being, success etc.), challenges (e.g. price, accessibility etc.) or even fears (e.g. kids falling ill, not succeeding in life etc.) are. By gaining these insights, you can then show how your product or service is the solution when achieving their goals or overcoming their obstacles. You can start by creating your ideal customer profile with our Buyer Persona Template download.

Download your audience persona template

This campaign was clearly targeted to mothers and maternal figures who have nurtured or continue to nurture their children. Many people in this demographic not only share the same goal of wanting to see their children succeed, but they also want to be appreciated for their efforts. Likewise, they share the fear of not being able to provide or support their children. They want the very best for their children and will strive to ensure they’re at the forefront of their lives.

Just from this ad, you can tell P&G clearly understands all these aspects of its target demographic. Rather than just show athletes using their products, P&G made their mothers the focus of the ad. They showed the daily efforts it takes to raise champions - from waking their children up, taking them to school, taking them to practice and being there in their best and worst moments. They even had close-up shots of the mothers preparing breakfast, a meal that’s considered to have high nutrition to take on the challenges of the day.

By doing all of this, P&G demonstrated to mothers everywhere that they recognised all their work and wanted to celebrate them just as you would Olympic champions. The message was relatable while still being meaningful to its audience.

2. Storytelling is powerful

Great stories are relatable and shareable across a variety of audiences. Whether it's happiness, sadness, fear, excitement or anger - using stories to convey emotions is a sure way of connecting to your audience.

However, for one to be moved by your story, they need to be the target. This is exactly why having a deep understanding of your audience is the first and most vital step when creating emotional marketing messages.

P&G understood it’s target demographic and coupled this with contextualisation. This was a global ad, meaning the challenges and fears are the same for mothers across the globe. The cast represented every continent. The storyline unified their fears and challenges wherever they are on the globe. What was happening at the time - olympics. The context, raising winners, winners who appreciate where they came from and how they got to where they are.

working towards the Olympics through the perspective of the mothers.

Additionally, P&G used the three elements of storytelling - characters, conflict and resolution. In content marketing, the character is the connection between the storyteller and their audience. Characters are derived from your buyer persona. In this case, P&G used the mothers of Olympian champions as their main characters. The conflict encompasses the lesson in how the character transforms through various challenges. It should align with your prospects’ needs, fears, challenges and so on. Conflict is what helps your audience relate to the characters. P&G leveraged the fears of its audience (e.g. children failing, children getting hurt) to build the conflict in the story. Lastly, resolution is what wraps up the story. With P&G’s ad, they used the goals of the audience (seeing their children succeed) as the resolution.

3. Emotional marketing is an opportunity to build brand association

Brand association is essentially the mental representation of your brand in a consumer’s mind. It's the attributes that shape how consumers perceive your brand. Using emotional content effectively will help your audience view your brand a certain away or associate certain emotions to your brand. This can in turn lead to memorability and brand loyalty and advocacy.

It’s important to note that associations may work for or against your brand. When building brand associations, you should be strategic and mindful of your target audience. The perceptions you try to create for your brand should feel authentic and honest to your consumers.

P&G’s brand purpose is “Touching Lives, Improving Life”. By showcasing the pains and joy of being a mother, they were able to build a connection that linked back to their brand story. They also used the tagline, “P&G, Proud sponsor of Moms” at the end of the ad, further associating themselves as a brand that celebrates mothers, the true champions.

Their marketing efforts didn’t stop there. They put this brand promise in action by firstly building the P&G Family Home, an initiative that involved flying out and taking care of the mothers (and other family members) of the Olympic athletes. After asking mothers what they could do to honour them, P&G was urged to support local youth sports organisations. As a result, they pledged to raise $5 million to do exactly that. Lastly, P&G launched the Thank You Mom app in order to let people join in on their movement. Users were able to thank their own mothers by uploading messages, images or videos.

P&G succeeded in positioning itself as a family brand that lives its purpose and improves the lives of people - mothers and their children, which is arguably an entire population.

4. Your background music should match the emotion

Music has always had the power to move people and elicit emotion from them. It can be dramatic, calming, upbeat, instrumental, disco and so on. When used in marketing, music can set the tone of the message and be crucial in delivering the intended experience.

If P&G’s ad had used dance or techno music, it probably wouldn’t have sparked the right emotions. Instead, they chose to use an instrumental piece that aligned with the story and evoked emotions of appreciation for all that mothers do.


As you can see there’s a lot of thought that goes into building an emotional marketing campaign. However, the results of a well planned emotional marketing strategy can be extremely beneficial. Visibility, memorability, shareability, brand trust, brand loyalty - these are just some of the advantages of emotional marketing.

It isn’t only a strategy for big brands, even smaller brands can use emotional appeals to their advantage. An understanding of your audience is the most crucial part. Once you have that down, you can develop emotional marketing messages in any content format that will resonate with your target customer and invoke a purchasing decision.


Related topics:

Sign up to join the QM Club
Register for our online events
Talk to our marketing strategists
Subscribe below to never miss an update
Leave a comment below


bottom of page