Can Emotional Branding Outplay Rationale?

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 1067 , Published on 11 December 2014

Ever since the first class of marketing in a B school, we are taught that while promoting a product, one should emphasize on the benefits of the product rather than its features. If you cover the benefits and advantages of the product in the marketing campaigns over its features, there is a strong tendency that your campaign will be successful.


But nowadays campaigns especially in India have revolutionalized big time. Considering the Indian culture, the focus now is to emotionally bind the target customers to the advertisements rather than following the traditional campaigns of conveying the advantages/ benefits of the product. Some brands in India believe that customers tend to recall the product for a long time by its emotional campaign over typical marketing campaign. They create an advertisement which directly connects with the emotions of the target customer and the customer automatically develops a bias for that product. In other words, the companies are now focusing on the emotions rather than the rationality.

Image Courtesy:, Stuart Miles


British airways (BA):

BA launched the campaign “It's time to Visit Mum” to target Indian expatriates in USA. It featured a mother in India talking about how much she misses her son in America. During the video, she cooks her sons favorite meal for BA to fly to him in New York, but ends up being surprised when instead BA brings her son to her (after not being home for 15 years). It was a serious tear-jerker and ripped out the heart strings of many Indians.

As this campaign was successful in leaving an imprint in the customers’ minds, BA fired yet another emotional gunshot “Go further to get closer” with an aim to target the busy married couples in India who are so much involved in their daily life that they do not get to spend time with each other. The ad reflects story of such a couple and here also, BA gives the couple a chance to go to London where they get to relive their life and spend some quality time with each other. It was launched on Valentine’s Day and garnered a whopping 85,000 views in just 3 days.

With the onslaught from the Middle East carriers and other cheaper and convenient alternatives like Jet Airways, there was a need of repositioning BA. That’s what British Airways did and was successful in making a place for itself in the hearts of Indians.



Similarly let us consider the advertisements of Oreo biscuits. Oreo wanted to position itself as a biscuit which should be preferred by not only children but also their parents and youth. They beautifully captured their target audience by making ads which showed how a father and son share a blissful relation while having Oreo. Now in this case the decision maker i.e. the father himself gets influenced by the sweet moments shown in the ad and thus, develops a bias for Oreo.

Moving further, Oreo launched another ad but this time it displayed siblings’ love i.e. brother and sister fighting over Oreo biscuits. These advertisements were successful in striking the emotional chord and created a bias for Oreo in the minds of the customers. They not only influenced but directly affected the sales of the products thus, helping Oreo in establishing a considerable mark in the Indian cream biscuit market.


The rate of such emotional branding of products is rising. One of the major reasons for the same is growing similarities among products in the market by different brands due to which brands try to differentiate themselves.

But the question which arises is: Is it morally right to manipulate human emotion, which is often extremely vulnerable and irrational element of human thinking?


As per tri-component model, three aspects of attitude are: cognitive, affective and conative. As stated above, the focus is now shifting to the affective component rather than cognitive. The recall for ads tends to be higher for affective ads however, the conative aspect, which is the last stage for buying a product, considers the rational part or in the other words, the level of involvement.


An Indian customer willing to fly will definitely recall British Airways ad but will not blindly book the tickets of British airways. He will rather introspect and look for better fares as the cost involved is quite high. However in the case of Oreo, there is a huge possibility that the decision maker gets influenced and buys the biscuit as the price involved is low.



Such “affective” campaigns definitely leave an impact on the customer’s mind but it is not necessary that it will directly lead to the sales of the product/service. The impact might initiate a first time purchase but if the product/service doesn't meet the needs of the customer, he won’t cling to it and explore other available options. In other words, the emphasis should be on customer satisfaction and not emotional satisfaction.

This article has been authored by Mayank Arora FORE School of Management



If you are interested in writing articles for us, Submit Here