Why Positive Emotions Are Key For Marketers During COVID-19 And Beyond

If we’ve learned anything over the past few months, it’s the power of positivity. After all, keeping positive is vital right now if we hope to navigate these uncertain times we find ourselves in.

The same could be said for brands and the content they push out. Over the last few weeks, we’ve tested lots of brand response ads to COVID-19 from across the world and found that positive messages during this time are resonating very strongly among consumers.

The highest performing COVID-19 ads are tied to positive emotions, often evoking high levels of warmth, inspiration and pride in viewers. To read more about our COVID research, click here.

But even before the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, another recent project we worked on with marketing consultant Peter Field and the IPA into the most effective emotions in online video advertising showed the real power of positivity.

The study, called ”Video And Sustained Brand Impact”, not only shows the power that emotions have on real-world outcomes for brands but also identified the positive emotions that are the most effective at brand building.

As was first revealed in Binet and Field’s 2013 study, “The Long and the Short of It”, and supported in this latest research, there’s no more powerful way of building a lasting connection with consumers than through the power of emotions — for long term brand impact and, indeed, short-term wins.

But which emotions should you focus on? Well, ”Video And Sustained Brand Impact” goes even further than the 2013 study by actually identifying the individual emotions that are the most effective at driving certain real-life outcomes.

For example, when it comes to long-term effects such as fame, differentiation, profit and reduction in price sensitivity, positive emotional triggers are the most effective.

And of all the positive emotions we measure — amazement and exhilaration had the strongest links to long-term effectiveness across the board.

Emotions also play a part in driving short-term outcomes — just not the same emotions.

While amazement and exhilaration are the most effective for long-term brand building, contempt came out on top for short-term outcomes.

Now, this may seem like a strange emotion to identify as the most effective. However, when you consider hilarity was the second-highest, it starts to make sense. After all, contempt is often linked to hilarity because funny ads tend to be polarising. What one person finds hilarious, others can find irritating or offensive. Contempt can also be driven by ‘hard sell’ ads that can be repetitive, insistent and uncreative.

Although these ads annoy viewers, they can still help sales in the short term… but at what cost to the brand in the long term? By focusing less on the short term and more on the positive emotions that can drive long-term brand value to a much wider audience, brands can afford to be a lot more pragmatic.

Hear our VP of Insights and Solutions speak about the key findings from this research in this short introduction.

Click here to access the full presentation where we delve deeper into our Video and Sustained Brand Impact study, looking at what actionable insights brands can carry take away from the findings.