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Guide to Advertising Appeals – The 7 Ad Appeals Explained

April 24, 2017

The unwritten rule of effective advertising involves creating ads that appeal to people’s emotions, these appeals can be broadly categorized into fear, sex, humor, music, rationality, emotions and scarcity. These appeals are something that are experienced by everyone universally, regardless of race, financial stance or intelligence.Think back to an advertisement that you can remember, what appeal did it have? chances are it fit into one of the “magic 7” appeals, perhaps even using a mixture of the appeals. Needless to say the successful advertisement is not only the one you remember, but the one you remember in a positive light. Successful marketers are able to create advertisements customers favorably recall in memory… and we all know positive attitudes lead to positive behaviors, such as consumers buying your product! Below is a guide to using the appeals, highlighting both positive and negative consequences associated with using the advertising appeals.

Fear Appeal – The first advertising appeal and perhaps the most effective to date, is the advertising appeal of fear. Fear is an emotion that has existed as long as intelligible life has walked the Earth. Fear advertising concentrates on emotional responses from customers to a perceived threat, typically severity and vulnerability. An example of a fear appeal would be an advertisement for a “web hosting” company focusing on the severity of downtime experienced on the site and the customers vulnerability of losing business due to downtime. The Good – Fear appeals tend to be very persuasive and are great for capturing peoples attention, such as an eye-catching advertisement of an injured car crash victim due to drink diving. The Bad – hard to gauge how much fear to use, too much and you can scare people away from your ads and too little fear and nobody will notice your ad.

Sex Appeal – Another universal aspect of being human, sex has been used for years by marketers to capture attention of the sexes. The use of sex can be subliminal, sexually suggestive, nudity or sensuality, ever notice how most people that appear in ads tend to be attractive? An example of sexual advertising is with the America’s Next Top Model TV series, which has ads showing the girls in sexually suggestive clothes to lure in male viewers to watch episodes. The Good – Sex is proven to cut through clutter, if your advertising in a busy time-slot using sex appeals will help your ad get noticed, this helps increase brand recognition The Bad – Sex appeals can be provocative and may cause negative reactions with different cultures (non-western) and sex appeals are so prevalent nowadays that they no longer carry the WOW-factor they once did.

Humor Appeal – Everyone loves to laugh and most people have negative attitudes towards advertising but positive reactions to humor, a consumer watching a humorous ad laughs, tells people the joke and remembers this greatly helps marketers. There are many memorable TV ads that use humor to promote their brands, the John West Salmon ad where a man fights a bear for salmon effectively leverages the humor appeal The Good – Humor is one of the best methods for cutting through advertising clutter as funny ads are more easily noticed by the increasingly time-scarce consumer, humor gets attention, stays in peoples memories and typically win awards The Bad – it is important that the joke does not overpower the brand or its associated motto, if people remember the joke but not the brand this is not effective. Advertisers must also be culturally aware as what is funny in one culture may be offensive in another.

Music Appeal – Music is something that everyone enjoys, music is something that is both personal and causes people to recall moments that are both good and bad in their life. Music helps capture attentions and link to the consumers emotions. An example of music appeal is soft drink company 7UP using the song ‘sunshine’ by the Partridge family, this helped resonate the message to their target market. The Good – using a well known song can bring back positive nostalgic memories in consumers causing them to have positive attitudes towards your brand, music’s intrusive nature means that people can still be attracted to the ad even if they are avoiding ads in general. The Bad – certain music can cause negative reactions in consumers if they relate to bad memories in the past.

Rationality Appeal – The rationality appeal relies on consumers actively processing the information presented in the ad, this appeal is typically used in print media due to the consumers having more time set aside to read the advertising in this medium. Typically rational appeals focus on the practical, functional or utilitarian needs of consumers. Rational appeals are typically used in advertising drugs or healthy lifestyle products like Vitamins, such as recent ads by pharmaceutical company Swisse which used Australian Cricket captain Ricky Ponting who asserted the individual vitamins to appeal to knowledgeable consumers. The Good – rationality is great for high-involvement products and for B2B advertising The Bad – the rational appeal must be credible as false claims can cause negative brand attitudes.

Scarcity Appeal – Scarcity is based on limitations, typically this is in the form of limited time to purchase or limited supply. Scarcity is often used with fear appeals, to help empower customers by missing out on a potential immediately negative event. Australian advertisers use scarcity appeal in cricket memorabilia advertising, by offering The Good – scarcity is great for encouraging users to take action, and is often effectively used with other promotions like coupons, sweepstakes and contests The Bad – scarcity appeals must be genuine or consumers will harbor negative attitudes towards your brand.

Emotional Appeal – Appealing to the emotions of consumers is an effective technique for capturing attention and fostering attachments for a consumer to your brand, it is generally more effective to concentrate on positive emotions like happiness, joy, trust and love. Typical industries that use emotions in their advertising copy are banks and insurance agencies who often center on optimistic emotions like happiness and joy in an attempt to reconcile commonly held stereotypes of these industries as corporate mega powers. The Good – emotional appeals combine with nearly every appeal very effectively, can be the key to building up brand loyalty amongst customer base The Bad – emotional appeals must match the target market and current PR history of the company, consumers are increasingly aware of advertising messages.

In summary, the seven appeals of advertising are useful to understand when in the beginning stages of creating an advertisement whether it be online or offline, building your advertisement around a given combination of appeals acts as a good starting point. Some tried and tested combination’s of advertising appeals includes the combination of fear and rationality (typically used in anti-smoking advertising), and the use of music and emotion generally are a good basis for any advertisement. In the end the appeals should be taken into consideration with other factors, namely your organizational marketing objectives, media strategy, target market make-up and brand strategy. If for example your organization is a local newspaper that caters to a demographic of 40 and above, and its looking to improve its brand loyalty by expressing its concern and care for the local community, a emotional or rational appeal would be most appropriate in helping you reach your marketing objective of brand loyalty with your target market.

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