Most large consumer companies understand the profound power of leveraging emotion to maximize the impact of their advertising.  Celebrating the emotional potential of their product pulls consumers in and gives them an even more compelling reason - beyond just features and benefits - to want what you’re selling.  To be sure, a product’s ultimate impact is not just what it does, but how it makes us feel.  As such, advertisers are smart to include this in marketing and sales messages.  These days, this is not revolutionary, or even particularly controversial, thinking.  That’s why it surprises me so much when I see ads (pretty much) devoid of these appeals from companies that should know better.



Take this Samsung ad for its Galaxy Note 3 phone.  I haven’t seen the research but I’m guessing that Samsung is targeting early adopter cell phone and technology consumers.  I’m also guessing that those folks are most influenced by really smart and innovative “bells and whistles”.  To that end, this ad does a great job of presenting this phone’s cool new functionality.  Although some may not see the heavy reliance on a stylus as a step forward, the way the phone manages output from the stylus seems (and this is a technical term) “way cool”!  


Samsung delivered a well produced ad that highlights the unique ways that their new phone is special.  This sounds logical enough when targeting these consumers, but the approach seems to forget that techies are human too!  Except perhaps for the juxtaposition of disembodied male hands floating in the darkness and a female contact added to the phone who, ostensibly, calls at the end, there’s very little attempt to take advantage of the emotional potential here.



The Google Nexus 7 ad offers a stark contrast.  Even though this is a mini tablet versus a phone, I’m guessing the ad is talking to very similar consumers.  This ad, however, is demonstrably more powerful than the Samsung one because it weaves a celebration of its features around a simple but deeply emotionally resonant human story.  It positions its product as the solution to not just one, but two of the most Herculean challenges facing mankind: public speaking and talking to the opposite sex. Beyond that, it even introduces elements like the iconic FDR speech on "fear itself" that stokes even more emotional "stuff".


I’d argue that the Google spot does at least as good a job of delineating its product’s features that make the phone new and cool.  Moreover, it does so while engaging the viewer with very warm (and even sweet) emotional context that everyone can relate to.  Even if there is someone out there who has never had to speak in class or reached out to someone of the opposite sex - no doubt, they can relate to the broader theme of overcoming fear.  In fact, one could argue that the techie-loving first adopters that the ad is targeted to are probably the very somewhat introverted and (another technical term, of affection) “nerdy” folks who will even more closely relate to the emotional upside in this spot!


Advertisers, it is important to remember that whatever you sell, you’re doing so to human beings; and - however we will interact with your product - we are all emotional creatures.   For many in the Western world, emotions are, arguably, the predominant driver of human behavior.  Particularly for something relatively upscale like a new smart phone, you just can't ignore it.  

Frequently in heavily engineering and technology driven company cultures, marketing teams lose sight of this emotional nuance and advertising can gravitate almost exclusively around the technology of a product.  Google does a great job of integrating the technical with the emotional in their Nexus 7 ad!  Kudos to them.


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Tags: ad, brand, critique, emotion, google, nanocinema, review, samsung, strategy


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