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A single blueprint for emotion doesn’t exist

March 2024

This is a self-funded case study using our ad testing solution.

Thou shall leave a smile on people’s faces in the pursuit of effectiveness!

Amid an advertising landscape filled with misguided proclamations of what it takes to be effective, those brands wanting to leave a more serious mark on viewers can often feel out-of-sync with industry expectations. This is especially true for the charity and non-profit sector, with these brands running the very real risk of trivializing their efforts and coming across as inauthentic by targeting positive, upbeat emotions.

At Cubery we’ve long championed leveraging the broad and diverse range of emotions at a marketer’s disposal for developing effective advertising, from happiness and excitement right through to fear and sadness. What’s more, negative emotions have just as much potential to stop people in their tracks and absorb them in a narrative. With these being particularly important elements for the non-profit category, one only needs to look as far as the Alzheimer’s Society’s spot from 2023 to see the tremendous upside of leveraging negative emotions. Why? Simply put, it’s one of the most effective ads we’ve ever tested in the U.K.

Aiming to address the significantly diminished number of people diagnosed with the illness during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ad is built around the insight that people often misconstrue the disease as a natural symptom of aging. Aptly titled “It’s Not Called Getting Old”, the ad put on a masterclass in emotional storytelling.

The heartbreaking story features an elderly man witnessing the slow mental deterioration of his wife, with the immensely sad approach working incredibly well to absorb people in the story. Critically, though, the powerful resolve (which features the characters locked in a warm embrace) overcame these negative feelings and instilled a sense of hope and optimism. This meant that despite the ad’s somber tone, it was still thoroughly enjoyed.

Additionally, by revealing the charity behind the ad at the peak moment of emotional engagement, it ensured the Alzheimer’s Society would be encoded in people’s memories. As a result, the charity was almost unanimously seen as helping the community’s most vulnerable, while conveying that difficult challenges can be overcome together.

The intensity of the emotional response meant the ad successfully positioned the charity as being meaningfully different to others, which is particularly important in an economic climate where people are tightening their belts and scrutinizing every expense. The in-market impact thus far has aligned with the strong consumer response seen in testing, with the charity reporting a considerable uplift in the number of calls to its support line.

Through a narrative grounded in the real-life experiences of caregivers and individuals impacted by the disease, the ad ultimately worked to cut through by transcending traditional advertising tropes and connecting with audiences on a deeper and more personal level. The ad successfully leveraged a wide and varied set of emotions along with casting relatable and sympathetic characters.

Together with ensuring the charity played an integral role in resolving the build-up of tension, the ad perfectly encapsulates how advertisers don’t need to be pigeonholed into a “one-size-fits-all” emotional formula for advertising success. Ultimately, the ad proves that those with a serious message to tell aren’t consigned to being any less effective.

Get in touch to speak to one of our consultants about our ad testing & tracking solution. Expert-led, evidence-based insights — which don’t break the bank.

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