Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Literally Arousing – 15 Examples of Emotional Marketing

15 Examples of Emotional Marketing Contagious Jonah Berger ReferralCandy

The third principle from the STEPPS model is Emotion.

Emotions help us connect with one another, and inspire us to act.

When we come across a story that’s exciting or cool, we want to share it with our friends immediately.

But are all emotions equally effective at motivating us to share?

Well, not really.

Different emotions have varying levels of “physiological arousal“.

Arousal is a state of activation and readiness for action.

According to Jonah Berger’s research, high arousal emotions (e.g. awe, anger) spurs us into action.

They make us shake our fists, or want to share exciting news with others.

Conversely, low arousal emotions (e.g. contentment, sadness) discourage action; sad articles were 16% less likely to be featured in The New York Times’ Most E-Mailed list.

So the key is to focus on igniting high arousal emotions, so your audience will be motivated to share it.

Here are 15 examples of viral ads that ignite high arousal emotions:

1. Apple celebrates those who think differently, and encourages us to do the same.

This video was part of Apple’s “Think Different” campaign, which proved to be a huge success by winning numerous awards, including the 1998 Emmy Award for Best Commercial.

Interestingly, the “different” in “Think Different” was meant to be a noun, not a grammatical mistake that some claimed it to be.

2. Google‘s apps are so useful they actually help to save lives.

Google’s Search Stories showcase a series of videos where individuals have used Google services to improve their lives or solve problems.

This particular video shows how a helicopter rescue team was able to save an entire family with the help of Google Maps.

3. Nike tells us that greatness is in everyone; it’s up to us to find ours.

With this ad, Nike dispels the myth that greatness can only be found in a selected few.

To them, greatness lies in each and every one of us.

With the right amount of passion, anyone can achieve greatness.

4. Volkswagen scraps one in fifty cars to ensure that we get only the best.

Volkswagen Lemon ad Emotion Contagious Jonah Berger ReferralCandy

The challenge: Selling a German car to Americans 15 years after WWII.

Volkswagen’s Lemon ad featured a Beetle which had a small blemish on the chrome strip on the glove compartment, and had to be replaced.

Their minimalism in their marketing campaigns, coupled with their perfectionism, set Volkswagen apart from other car makers.

5. With Canon products, no dreams are too hard to reach.

This commercial retraces the journey of an imaginative child who managed to achieve his dreams of being a movie director.

If not for his cameras, his dreams would never be a reality.

6. Red Bull pushes you to achieve the impossible.

Red Bull’s brand identity has always revolved around extreme sports.

From dropping a man off the edge of the atmosphere to hosting the coolest bicycle stunts, their commercials always instil a sense of awe and adrenaline.

Whenever I watch these videos, I always feel like I can conquer anything.

7. Lego helps children express their imagination and feel proud of their creations.

Lego 1981 ad Emotion Contagious Jonah Berger ReferralCandy

Perhaps the most important part about toys is the ability to channel a child’s limitless imagination.

Lego bricks the building blocks that help bring that imagination into reality.

8. America is Beautiful and Coca-Cola is for everyone.

Coca Cola has always been a supporter of diversity, and this commercial really shows that.

Sang in many different languages, the video aims to remind us that it is this diversity that has helped shape America into what it is today.

9. P&G reminds us that our mothers are the pillars in our lives.

Mothers are the biggest consumers of household products, so they’re P&G’s dearest customers.

The ad celebrates them by focusing on the mothers of Olympic athletes. It reminds us that most of us wouldn’t be where we are without the love and support from our mums.

10. When you can’t find the right words, Spotify can help you say it with a song.

When a teen struggles to find the best way to talk about “what happened last night”, he uses the Spotify share function to share a song instead.

11. Patek Philippe watches are valuable because they are meant to be passed down generations.

“You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”

12. UPS doesn’t simply deliver our packages; they deliver joy and happiness.

To 4-year-old Carson, UPS deliveryman Mr Ernie is a treasured friend who delivered packages to Carson twice or thrice a week.

The video shows Carson and Mr Ernie reuniting as part of UPS’ Wishes Delivered program, where Carson was given his very own UPS truck.

13. Budweiser shows us that the strongest bonds are those that can overcome all obstacles.

The video tells another story of the friendship between the puppy and the horse. The puppy gets lost and finds itself in danger of being eaten by a wolf.

The puppy’s frightful whimpers are heard by its equine friend, which arrives just in time to save it.

Read more: How Budweiser Maintains Its Status As America’s Best Beer Brand

14. Carlsberg would be the best at everything; including supermarkets.

Carlsberg’s “If Carlsberg did…” series often shows a hilarious spin on normal establishments, where men can get whatever they desire.

That often includes music, women, and lots of Carlsberg beer.

15. Heineken is the ultimate companion for a bros night.

A typical girls’ night in might include watching TV together over snacks.

This Heineken ad pokes fun at it by featuring a group of men going crazy over a variety show “Men with Talent”.

Contestants showcase all sorts of talents, which all happen to include Heineken beer.

Allow your customers to connect with your product through emotions rather than features.

When selling your product, it is very easy to get caught up in listing out your product’s various features and capabilities.

After all, the features are what your customers will benefit from, right?

However, do not forget that emotions, especially high arousal ones, have the potential to inspire your customers to share with their peers.

Look out for the other four principles over the next few weeks!

Bonus: Double Your Word-of-Mouth With the ReferralCandy App!


Samuel Hum

Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion eCommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior, social psychology, and handstands. He is also the lead calisthenics trainer at Weightless.