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7 powerful emotional triggers to use in your marketing

7 Powerful Emotional Triggers to Use in your Marketing

Quick! Think of a commercial, any one will do. What’s the first one that came to mind? What was it about that particular ad that made you think back to it? Was it funny enough to make you laugh, did it shock you, empower you, or make you sad?

In general, we see thousands of advertisements every single day. With so many ads in our face at every turn, what does it take to stand out among all those commercials? Well, many people say that the secret to making your ad stick is by turning to emotions.

Sure, it may not seem natural for a body wash ad to be aligned with an inspirational message, or for your website builder to be laugh out loud hilarious, but the association between an emotional reaction and an average product can make your biz unforgettable.

Let’s explore the 7 most commonly used emotions in advertising and marketing regardless of you're using AI marketing or another strategy, and why they work so well:


Who wouldn’t want a little more joy in their day? Brand giants from McDonald's to Coca-Cola have done all they can to pump a little extra happy in their ads with the hopes of associating their business with a good time.


Doesn’t it feel great to get a compliment? Sometimes, it’s just that extra boost that reassures you that you’re doing great, just by being you. Brands like Dove know that we love a little boost to our self-esteem, and have injected that strong notion of empowerment into some of our now favorite ads. Don’t love this ad? It’s o.k., we think you’re awesome just the way you are!


Sure fear’s not everyone’s favorite feeling, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. This powerful emotion that can add a sense of urgency to your message, and is particularly strong when paired with safety related ads like in this Domestic Abuse PSA from an organization called ‘No More.’ We wouldn't recommend this technique when it comes to writing a press release, say, but for ads it works.


Using humor in your marketing is a high-risk, high-reward game, but when it works… it works incredibly well! Having a hilarious ad is one of the strongest ways to make your brand memorable; not only does it add a positive connotation to your company, but if an ad is truly hilarious, people will want to share the joy (and your brand’s name) with their friends:

Surprise & Wonder

In the age of the internet, there’s no shortage of wonderful, beautiful things to discover each day. This sure can make it difficult for advertisers to show you something truly extraordinary (that you haven’t already.) But leave it to Apple to test the limits of their technology to take your breath away. Their “Shot on iPhone 6” ad is the perfect example of being so beautiful it can’t be ignored. With no fancy technology or big budget, they managed to draw us in and our attention.

Love & Affection

There’s no more relatable emotion on this planet than the need to love and be loved. Whether it’s the love of a parent, a sibling or age-old romance, when it’s done right, we can’t help but stop and say awww. Our hearts skip a beat, our lips turn upwards and we may even get a little teary-eyed, but when we recognize love we can’t help but accept it with open arms.

…The Other Kind of Love

Let’s be adults for a moment – there’s nothing more riveting than a cheap thrill. Whether it’s the rush of success after a raise or promotion, tasting a devilish piece of chocolate you know you don’t need or, of course, sex. The feeling of chasing after a thrill is an advertiser’s dream. It provokes feelings of fantasy and our inner-most desired. We hate to say it, but for better or worse, sex definitely sells.

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