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Breaking Through with Emotional Appeal Durin Post Recession Era


By Umogun Michael



In the post-recession era, we see the new, more mindful consumer emerge.  Advertisers need to make their communications relevant to the current concerns of these “new” consumers who are now selecting brands for different reasons.

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Brands need to craft strategies to address these new priorities, and they can do this by breaking through using emotion to create a memorable and lasting impression.  In categories where there is little discernible differentiation across brands (in developed markets, this is the state of most FMCG/CPG categories), many of the most successful brands have crafted strong and effective advertising to evoke an emotional response. In the personal care category, Unilever’s Dove brand accomplished this by taking aim at traditional standards of beauty. Through the “Campaign for Real Beauty,” as well as viral videos such as “Evolution” and “Onslaught, ” Dove has redirected the debate on beauty and carved out a unique space for itself.

Another great example is the Unilever campaign for Omo, “Dirt Is Good”, that delivered the functional benefit of the brand in a creative way.  The ads did not explicitly say that Omo will get your kids’ clothes clean no matter what they get into – rather, it presented strong implicit communication that you can let your kids get dirty because you can trust Omo to do its job. But it is important to note that it is only because Omo spent many years establishing its functional credentials with explicit claims like “Omo Washes Whiter” that the brand can now communicate its functional message implicitly. Most people won’t be willing to trade off quality and efficacy for “feeling good” so those qualities must be well established.

Brands can also build a higher-level meaning into the brand as it grows. Method is an example of a brand that has succeeded in creating a new segment by combining good product performance and strong design with an ethos of sustainability. Critical to the company’s success is its positioning as being not only good for the environment but also good for personal health, giving it a broader appeal than many other environmentally oriented brands.


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Some brands have unique new values built in from the start. When Veja launched their sneakers, they highlighted the fact that they were made from fair trade materials (organic cotton and Amazonian wild latex) and had ethical labor practices. According to their website, even though their fabrication costs are seven or eight times higher than those of the competition, Veja products are priced competitively. Their business model is one in which the brand does not advertise and production quantities are tightly controlled.

To be successful however, the meaning must be baked in, not painted on, and the lesson drawn from these successful campaigns is that the concepts originated from a sense of brand purpose rather than an unrelated creative idea. Instead of simply investing in mere advertising, these brands chose to commit to causes that transcend a brand’s functional purpose and capture their customers’ hearts as well as their minds through the use of great creative. The brands express this commitment in all they do and all they say in every consumer touch point. Going beyond entertainment, the campaigns depict a brand experience that inspires and resonates with the ideals people are choosing to live by.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that real power of brands is in memory influencing future choice.  When there is a need to reinforce the functional benefits of the brand, deliver the message in a creative way to help improve memorability.  And lastly, make your communication relevant to the current concerns of the new more mindful consumer who, especially in a post-recession period, now select brands for different reasons.


Michael Umogun is the Head of Business Development for Milward Brown Nigeria. He is a Fellow National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria(NIMN) , Fellow Institute of Direct Marketing of Nigeria (IDMN) Member Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and Member Nigeria Market Research Association (NIMRA) with post graduate certification in Business Development from The Netherland Business School.




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