Advertising in the new world: The 5 best emotions to address!

Ever wondered why certain ads like those of Cadbury Dairy Milk (the oldest ad), Liril (the one featuring Preity Zinta), Asian Paints (one featuring a soldier) and others cling to our memory more than others? Well, a statement that it is because they address emotions more than other advertisements isn’t the complete answer. On going a few layers deep, you’ll find that it’s not just emotion, it’s an entire equation that they address:

Emotions + The current vibe in the country + Youth’s sentiment + People’s silent longings + Dream Portrayal = The complete, memorable advertisement

It’s not more the features of a product that grabs the attention, it is the lurid representation of dreams and the resonance with the country’s holistic sentiment at a given point that matters. We all remember Fair n Lovely’s initial ads that created ripples, but it is only in our subconscious mind – the memories of Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai winning Ms. Universe and Ms. World titles, sometime near the advent of cosmetic wave in India. The ads of P&G, HUL and others were well poised with the new wave in the country – ‘beauty conscious’. The dreams brought home by Aishwarya and Sushmita back then, were both new and exhilarating for the Indian girls, what better could have been a time to exploit ‘hope and happiness’ promises of cosmetic ads. In this extremely ‘simple and easy-worded’ article, we discuss 5 evergreen sentiments that ads of modern world can address in different ways:

  1. Liberation

A classic example is that of Mahindra’s Bolero with strap line ‘Breakfree’ which is still remembered. Back in 2000 when M&M was about to launch the MUV, Alan Durante, executive director & president, Automotive Sector, M&M, said – “With the caption “break free”, the Bolero breaks free the limits of the terrain and can be driven through the highways, good roads and tough roads.” But more than meaning this simple, the phrase ‘break free’ connoted fearlessness, the sense of being empowered to break boundaries and to liberate oneself from the bindings of societal mindsets and age old, vestigial practices (esp. by showing a woman drive Bolero with élan).

Any advertisement that can boldface this feeling of ‘liberation’ from the manacles of dead tradition, self-imposed ceiling and societal coercion (whether overt or covert) is sure to succeed in today’s world; for simple reason, mental freedom is the first step to physical defiance of boundaries. And sometimes, an advertisement can just kindle the fire needed for mental freedom.

  1. Hopes (and dreams)

The classic examples of Lakme, Fair n Lovely, the myriad shampoos promising lush hair are a long standing proof of the fact that to sell anything that can’t be distinguished much based on features or has no direct measurable attributes of performance, emotion of ‘hope’ does the trick.


No girl really believes that she’ll be the next Ms. India the moment Fair n Lovely becomes a part of her vanity kit, but the hope that a cosmetic will ‘transform her’ equips her with confidence. The advertisements must have their due credit. Had they not shown such hope, no one would actually prefer a brand over another. So if, for example, if a company’s life insurance advertisement can sell, ‘more’ hope of a good life for the family’ than others, it will sell better than others.

  1. Self-belief

It would be bourgeois if Mountain Dew sold itself as just soda. The tagline ‘darr ke aage jeet hai’ is nothing but an extreme addressal to ‘self-belief’ need of consumers. They do not take the tagline seriously and try out mountain jumping, but just watching an ad film like that makes them take an adventure ride ‘inside’. Similarly, if Idea’s data services chose to advertise with ‘IIN’ theme, they only tried to break through the clutter by exploiting ‘the need for self-belief’. The defiance of belief that the only cloisters for intelligence are IITs and IIMs through this advertisement, instantly strikes a chord with millions of students who didn’t make it to an IIT or an IIM but still want the world to believe in them. Today’s world is fraught with an insane identity crisis, especially for the youth, so this theme of instilling ‘self-belief’ is nothing but a way of doing justice to Youth’s sentiment + People’s silent longings, in the above equation.

  1. ‘Change-leading’

Obama did it for advertising himself with the catch phrase – ‘The change we need’. Campaigns like ‘ab badlega India’ and HUL’s recent ads on YouTube inspiring people to keep city clean have been grabbing attention of people for a simple reason, there is sense of being an everyday hero by doing little things for the world that are called, ‘harbingers of change’ for country, society and mankind as a whole.

For example, you shouldn’t be surprised if Harpic soon rolls out a campaign for sanitary hygiene in India, a charitable trust for building toilets in rural India or inspiring youth to speak up for cleanliness. 

  1. Importance (of an individual to himself/herself and to the world)

This can’t be explained better with any example other than that of LOreal (remember their tagline – ‘you’re worth it’?). These three words instil and almost unparalled sense of being important in every woman. Similarly for Dove, that brings the feeling of being important to women of the real world. If an advertisement can play on to make one feel important, valued and special, it can cling to both mind and heart swiftly.

These 5 themes are sure to succeed in today’s world, where there is stress, identity crisis and still a sublime fire within to inspire change and to break free. The trick is to choose which theme will suit a certain product. The trick that’s better still is – choose the most ‘unanticipated and not the usually suited for the product category’ theme for your product. Spin a tale around the ‘unusual nature of ad concept’ and make it so exquisite that people can’t stop thinking about it. After all advertising is nothing but an art of catching human attention long enough to derive monetary profit. As an ending note, ponder on why Tata Tea took up cause marketing in its Jaago Re! campaign and not talked of just tea leaves, aroma or price. Features can be emulated, creativity can be outnumbered over time but emotions stay, and surprises stay even longer if executed well. A tea company talking of bringing about causes surrounding general elections in India in its ads – a surprise that was just good enough!


You will love reading: Ambush Marketing.  Must read article Ambush or Anguish

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Abhirup Bhattacharya
Abhirup Bhattacharya

you seem to be topping the search engine charts 🙂 great one !

Abhirup Bhattacharya
Abhirup Bhattacharya

Truly emotions are playing an even greater role in buying and marketing decisions.

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