Emotion and Story Rule

You’ve heard us say it before, and we’ll say it again: People buy on emotion and justify with fact.

There’s no better place to watch emotions unfold than on the Super Bowl, and it’s no surprise to us that the commercials that stood out were the ones that got us with emotion.

Oftentimes, when we think about adding emotion, we immediately think we need to add something weepy. A sad statistic. Something gripping. But as we saw with this year’s Super Bowl commercials, emotion doesn’t have to be sad to be effective.

There are all kinds of emotions – like competition, as we saw with the Oreo “Whisper Fight” ad. Almost all of us have had a conversation about how to eat an Oreo, or which part of it is the best. This ad (which later became an ad campaign via Twitter during the game) pulled in all of our competitive emotions, as well as a little bit of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Emotion. Story. And Connection.

To truly win on emotion, there must be some tie between the emotion and the story and the product.

Two Super Bowl ads stood out in our minds:

1. Dodge Ram – So God Made A Farmer - This ad tipped its hat to a slice of Americana, and it targeted the people who drive Dodge Ram trucks. Not posh hipsters, not city slickers, but people of the earth: Farmers. Even the ad, itself, was kind of quiet and a little long-winded, tapping into an identity and attaching the product with the customers, much like the Don’t Mess with Texas campaign as described in Made to Stick. Emotion. Story. And Connection. (What’s more, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, the brand saw a 55% increase in search activity after the game.)

2. Budweiser – Brotherhood. This year, we watched the heartwarming story of the man raising a Budweiser Clydesdale (birthing, bottle-feeding, sleeping in the stall) to become a part of the Budweiser team. Paired brilliantly with Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” connected us with the lasting love of parents, children, siblings and pets everywhere. Budweiser has developed the Clydesdales as brand icons since 1933, making the indelible connection between their emotional story and their brand.

We also saw ads that were highly emotional, but had no connection to the product. Jeep’s “Whole Again” commercial, featuring America’s troops and a voice over by Oprah, was high on the heart-string-o-meter, but it ranked low on connection between why we were feeling emotional (love and sacrifice of our Troops) and what we were supposed to be buying (a Jeep). The same was true with the GoDaddy ads (#TheKiss didn’t make us think about a new web domain for Decker – it made us want to barf and shield our kids’ eyes).

Chances are your next big presentation won’t cost you $126,000 per second like this year’s Super Bowl spots. And you probably won’t have an entire agency to help chisel the details. But you can utilize emotion, story and connection to improve your next presentation, meeting or call.

Here’s our DIY guide:

Start by stirring something inside of your listeners. Whether you take 30 seconds (like Oreo) or a full 2 minutes (like Dodge Ram), urge your audience to feel something.

Then, find a link that connects that emotion back to your message. It’s not enough to start with an emotional story and launch into something that’s unrelated. What emotions convey your news? Your perspective? Don’t just open Pandora’s box of emotions, stay relevant and stay on point. For a great example, check out Frank Warren.

Close and cinch the emotional connection. People will remember your story, but your goal is for them to remember your message. Infuse emotion, all the way into your close. Google’s Chief Executive Larry Page did this extremely well on his most recent earnings call, by urging people to focus on “things that matter in life…living, learning and loving.”

What Super Bowl commercial connected with you and why? Tell us in the comments, or check out the results of the Decker Team Super Bowl Ad Poll on Facebook and tell us there.

The Significance of Storytelling

After writing about Compartmentalized Communicating, I’ve been thinking about how significant storytelling is to the successful communications experience. Nothing makes that human, emotional connection better than authentic, compelling storytelling. It was Hans Rosling‘s brilliant presentation of statistics at TED India that has kept this topic on my mind. As Hans … Continue reading