In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By 83anu
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The use of negative emotions in advertising
Chuck Young, Ameritest, argues that the most effective ads are those that exploit the negative emotions of the consumer to drive advertising impact


ANY ADVERTISERS ARE wary of creating ads that evoke negative emotions in consumers, for fear of creating negative associations with their brand. This is not surprising, since the mental processes involved in transferring emotions generated by advertising to the emotional equity of a brand are not understood: playing with the dark force can be risky. I remember one of the first copy tests we conducted for IBM. Ogilvy had created ‘Blue Letterbox’ TV executions; however, this one had an unusual twist. The commercial had a dark storyline about hackers breaking into a company’s accounting systems and emailing sensitive payroll information to the entire company, but the story ended on a promise that IBM software would keep your systems secure. There was a debate at the highest level about this. Lou Gerstner, then CEO of IBM, who was engaged in his turnaround of the high-tech giant, was not sure about it. Steve Hayden, head creative on the account was a strong advocate. To resolve their debate, the two agreed to research. The lesson from research was that

negative emotion, properly used, can be a powerful driver of commercial performance. The commercial generated strong pre-test scores, and Lou agreed to run it. Tracking data validated the ad’s effectiveness. Negative emotions are a key ingredient in all forms of storytelling, to create tension and suspense. The best movies usually have the best villains. Even in comedy, at points where the hero’s fortunes turn from good to bad, then from bad to worse, we witness essential narrative structures. Negative emotions ratchet up involvement with the plot, to build anticipation for the outcome.…...

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