Emotional ad campaigns are for life, not just for Christmas!

Emotional ad campaigns create preference, lead to decisions and are about twice as effective as rational advertising. In order to stand out, and leave an impact on consumers, brands are continuing to push boundaries in their advertising.

This week our VP of Insights Becky Waring and our SVP of Data Sam Sherson gave a great talk on the main stage at Tech Retail in London on unlocking emotion in advertising. For those who missed it, we’ve taken some of the highlights from their talk and pulled out the key themes. 

Nike and LeBron James

This month Nike released a powerfully emotive ad as part of their ‘Just Do It’ 30th anniversary campaign. The new short film entitled ‘Dream Crazy’ features a number of athletes who are household names. All the athletes have leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward.

On Labor Day Nike’s ad was launched in the US to huge debate and polarised opinion. This was mainly down to the use of Colin Kaepernick in their ads who controversially refused to stand during the American national anthem before NFL games.

According to Edison Trends, over the bank holiday weekend, online sales in the US for Nike grew an astonishing 31%. This demonstrates the power that emotional ad campaigns continue to have on audiences.

Driving sales with emotional ad campaigns

Using emotion to drive sales is a trend we continue to see across research studies. IPA ran a study around emotional advertising. They found that ‘emotional ad campaigns are more effective and more profitable than rational ad campaigns, even in rational categories’. 31% of emotional ad campaigns reported very large business effects after 1-2 years, compared to 16% for rational ads.

They also found that 43% of emotional ad campaigns reported very large business effects after 3 or more years. This was compared to just 23% for rational campaigns, indicating that ‘the longer the time frame, the more emotions drive profit’.

emotional ad campaigns vs rational ad campaigns chart

Nielsen ran a study in 2015 entitled Consumer Neuroscience. They found that ads with above average electroencephalogram scores delivered a 23% lift in sales volume, confirming the idea that emotions drive sales.

electroencephalogram scores

At Unruly, we tested thousands of videos and found an overwhelming correlation between emotional ad campaigns and sales.

correlation between emotional ad campaigns and sales

So how does it all work?

It was the great poet Maya Angelou who said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

We looked in our video testing database and analysed the UK retail category to uncover some powerful examples of the use of emotional advertising in this sector.

The most emotive retail ad we’ve ever tested in the UK is John Lewis’ ‘Buster the Boxer’ from Christmas 2016. However, with this being such a familiar example, we decided to look at a different emotive ad, ‘Come Home’ by German brand Edeka. Since this ad has been tested in both the UK and Germany, it gave us an opportunity to highlight how cultural differences affect emotional responses across different markets.

The video evoked a strong reaction in both countries. However, emotions ran much higher in Germany where people were more likely to feel surprise and shock. Whereas UK viewers were more likely to feel warmth. Our cultural analysis revealed that Germans have a more “concerned” cultural leaning than the UK. Meaning they worry about the impact that their behaviour has on themselves and others. Therefore the ad’s message of responsibility to others resonated particularly strongly in the ad’s native market.

Using objective frameworks

Without an objective framework like the one we used in our analysis, it can be very hard to know whether you have an accurate understanding of other cultures. This was illustrated at Tech Retail by playing a game with the audience to see if they could identify which markets were being described by the words “hurried, reserved, and restrained” vs “relaxed, uninhibited, and impulsive”. Becky revealed that these two seemingly opposing descriptions were in fact both referring to Americans. The first is how Mexicans see Americans, and the second is how they are perceived by the Japanese!

It became clear when ranking retail ads by emotional impact, that the top end of the chart was totally dominated by Christmas ads. So the analysis was split into “Christmas retail advertising” and “everyday retail advertising”. Outside of Christmas ads, retail advertising was considerably less emotive than the UK market norm. 11% lower than norm, whereas Christmas ads are 34% higher! Crucially, brand metrics like favourability (-17%) and intent to find out more (-7%) were also below par.

Becky and Sam’s closing advice for retailers?

Emotion is for life, not just for Christmas! Commit to an emotional ad strategy that is both long-term and consistent throughout the year. To this and your business will stand out in customers’ minds.

To find out more on how we use emotions to supercharge ad campaigns check out UnrulyEQ or get in touch with one of our team.

Unruly insights from Tech Retail

Recent growth of audience targeting and programmatic implementation has downgraded the importance of environment as the focus for advertising placement. However, we believe that the value of environment in advertising is still an extremely important factor to consider when you are planning an ad campaign.

Recently there has not been much of a focus on the importance of environment in advertising. However there have been a number of independent studies that show the value of context in digital environments on a number of key business and brand measures.

The importance of context

Before we dive into the importance of context in advertising we need to understand how context affects the way we perceive information.

“Information is not processed neutrally. We are swayed by contextual cues.” – Richard Shotton, Deputy Head of Evidence at MG OMD

Take a look at these symbols…

The CAT symbolsTo most people when they look at the above symbols together they read ‘THE CAT’. However if you look closely you can actually see that the same symbol is used for the ‘H’ in ‘THE’ as the ‘A’ in ‘CAT’. Most people can’t tell this on first glance as our brains immediately see ‘THE CAT’ as we try to make sense of the symbols. This exercise demonstrates the impact that context has on our perception of information. 

Original beats social

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davies, Marketing Keynote Speaker

In 2012 AOP and comScore carried out a study to discover levels of trust among consumers. They found that 30% of consumers trusted publishers on social networks. Compared to 60% who trusted publishers on original content sites. Furthermore they found that only 23% of consumers trusted advertising they saw on social networks. While 45% of consumers trusted advertising they saw on original content sites.

The study also found that original content sites saw a 23% uplift over social networks in the usage of branded search terms. Consumers were also 153% more likely to visit an advertiser’s site after seeing their ad on an original content site, compared to social networks.

These results all point to the overwhelming fact that advertising on original content sites is measurably more effective versus other online media in delivering on all levels of the purchase cycle. From awareness all the way through to making a purchase.

So, where does the market stand on trust?

We ran a study in 2018 to find out how consumer trust has changed. We found that 43% of consumers say their trust in advertising on social media has fallen over the past year. 61% of consumers believe that more than 50% of the information they read on social media is fake.

These figures are not surprising given the amount of negative press that has surrounded social networks over the past year. Including the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal, brands boycotting YouTube due to their ads being displayed alongside inappropriate content, and the rise in fake news appearing on social networks.

The study also found that trust amongst consumers was 68% higher for information that appears on newspaper sites compared to social media. Reinforcing the fact that consumers still believe that premium environments offer higher credibility.

Why are premium environments still so effective?

As people aren’t aware of the way in which context impacts their perceptions, it can be hard to articulate why premium environments are so effective. However, removing explicit and conscious responses can give us a greater understanding of their impact.

In 2018 Newsworks ran a study by gathering data from consumers brains when they viewed ads in different environments. We created the below graph from the data they collected in order to show how ads in premium environments produce greater levels of engagement and long-term memory encoding amongst consumers compared to ads on social networks.

2018 Newsworks study graph

As we’ve seen, rather than just serving your ad to the right person, with the right message, at the right time, you also need to consider that it’s in the right place. It’s an overused phrase, but context is still king and the value of environment in advertising is still extremely important. With trust being at the forefront of consumer’s minds, especially when it comes to social media, it’s important to consider which environment you decide to post your ad on as it could make or break an advertising campaign.

To find out more about the importance of trust and environment in advertising, and to discover our unique emotional testing and targeting capabilities, exclusive premium inventory and industry-leading brand safety certifications, head over to our advertisers page or get in touch with one of our team filling in your details on our contact us page.

With over 40 million highly-engaged users and the introduction of ‘loops’ as a popularity metric, Vine is seriously hot stuff at the moment.

However, with a tidal wave of short-form content engulfing the Open Web, it’s not always easy to find the best of the bunch. So if you’re looking for quality inspiration, you’re in safe hands here. In just 36 short seconds, you’ll know which brands are doing Vine just right.

In this week’s round-up we have a tablet tent, an expanding car and a show of candy fireworks.



The World Cup has not even started, but already its ads have outperformed this year’s Super Bowl.

That’s according to new data released today by marketing technology company Unruly, which found the top 20 most shared World Cup commercials have already attracted almost a third more shares than the top 20 Super Bowl 2014 ads – months after Super Bowl Sunday.


Three is the magic number in this month’s Unruly Global Ads Chart. That’s because for the first time in the chart’s long history, three ads launched in the same month also made it onto the top 20 most shared ads of all time.

On any normal month, Evian’s superb ad Baby&Me or Kmart’s mammoth hit Ship My Pants – with 2.3 million and 2 million shares respectively – would have easily grabbed top spot.

But April was anything but normal, with three very different ads from brands with varying social video pedigrees totally dominating.

The number one spot instead went to Dove for its Real Beauty Sketches campaign. Launched on April 14, it attracted 3.1 million shares last month. The three-minute video, created by Ogilvy Mather for the Unilever brand, shows that when it comes to their beauty, women really are their harshest critics.


Kissing – it’s just plain gross, right? Well, that’s what I thought until I saw “First Kiss”, which tops this month’s Global Ads Chart round-up.

Splitting a group of (photogenic) strangers off into pairs, the teams were asked to kiss for the first time on camera. At first bemused, then hesitant, the pairs finally accept their fate, eventually succumbing. If this sounds like a more couple-friendly version of Saw, then you’re not far off the money.

The one thing that did not cross my mind, however, while watching Tatia Pilieva’s short film was ‘what a great ad’.

Not because it’s not ‘great’ – the numbers do not lie, after all. Since it was uploaded on March 11, the video has had its own love affair with the internet, the experiment in human tenderness grossing more than 1.44 million shares across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere during March alone. The perfect kiss, if you will.


It’s been 231 days since Twitter unleashed Vine upon the world and we’re already seeing the next generation of internet celebrities appearing from out of the woodwork.

However, none are bigger than this week’s guest on to the Unruly blog – Brittany Furlan. With over 2.5 million followers on Vine alone, she is fast becoming one of the standout stars of the new micro medium.

We’ve spoken to a range of famous folk during this Vine series so far, but Furlan is the first woman and she’s certainly not one to be missed.  From crazy characters, cheeky stunts and, of course, the obligatory dog Vine or two, she’s certainy put her stamp on it.


The next World Cup in Brazil may be months away, but brands, agencies (and probably some footballers too) are already gearing up for the prime marketing opportunity of the year.

Brands internationally are already spending $1.6 billion (source: IEG) on sponsorship fees for next year’s World Cup, more than double than what was spent on the 2012 Olympics. But the good news is you don’t have to fork out on huge sponsorship fees to be a big hit. Unlike the tournament itself, you don’t have to be in it to win it!

You only need to look at the 2010 World Cup to see what we mean. Despite arch-rival adidas being a sponsor, Nike gatecrashed the party with its epic “Write The Future” ad campaign. It was not only the biggest ad of the tournament, but also the biggest ad of the year.


A prank played on a group of coffee shop drinkers to promote the remake of 70s horror classic Carrie tops this month’s Unruly Global Ads Chart.

The ad was October’s most popular ad by a country mile, attracting almost 1.7 million more shares across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere than the second-placed ad, PooPourri’s hilariousGirls Don’t Poop”.

Created by the dastardly minds at agency Thinkmodo, it’s the latest in a long line of “prankverts” – a very big trend in 2013, in which brands play jokes on supposedly unsuspecting members of the public and film their reactions. But what’s it about and why is it so popular? Well, we all know getting your morning coffee fix can be a real ordeal. You’re half-asleep, there is a huge line of people before you and you are late for work.

However, to promote the remake of Stephen King’s classic story about a teenage girl with telekinetic powers – Thinkmodo moved it up a notch, giving caffeine lovers a wake-up call more powerful than knocking back 20 espressos.


New data from marketing technology platform Unruly shows average CTR for mobile campaigns has tripled in 12 months; desktop engagement rates also increase in 2013.

October 15, 2013 – Online video viewers are almost three times more likely to click through to a brand’s website from their smartphone or tablet than their laptop or desktop computer.

That’s according to new data from marketing technology company Unruly, which found that video engagement rates on mobile devices have soared over the last 12 months.

Research from the global leaders in social video marketing found that the average click-through-rate on smartphones and tablets has more than tripled over the last year.  The company also found mobile interaction rates have more than doubled over the same time period. Engagement rates on desktops also increased during the year, but not at the same rate as mobile.