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Market To The Gut, Not The Brain


September 27, 2016

Think of the last time you watched the Super Bowl.

If you're like millions of Americans, you may remember the commercials as much as the game. Why? Probably because the ads appealed to your emotions -- not your intellect. They made you laugh, cry, smile, or even wince.

Take Budweiser. This brand spends millions of dollars to air its commercials during the Super Bowl, and oftentimes, doesn't even show its product. Instead, its ads feature puppies and horses! It's a testament to the effectiveness of using emotion. And it's a good lesson for any marketing communications firm tempted to use reason and logic, which usually don't work nearly as well as going for the gut.

Advertising dominates American media. In a 2014 study conducted by Media Dynamics, a single person can be exposed to as many as 5,000 ads and brand impressions during a single day. Often, the most successful of these ads relies on emotional components rather than statistics, facts, or details.

That's because advertising rooted in emotional themes works better than advertising that uses logic. According to Dan Hill, author of "Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success," humans process emotional sensory input in one-fifth the time required for our brains to process cognitive input. That means your ad will grab people's attention quicker if you rely on an emotional hook. This type of advertising also sticks with consumers longer. A recent analysis of 1,400 case studies by the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising found that campaigns with an emotional core were twice as likely to succeed as those containing only rational content.

Your company can use advertising that targets emotions for any product or service, including medical advertising. At our healthcare advertising agency we created a novel campaign to promote our client's weight-loss surgery program. We started by asking ourselves, "Why do people choose bariatric surgery?" The answer: people want to regain confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth…feelings shared by those contemplating weight-loss surgery. Take a look at the campaign's flagship 30-second TV spot.



The ad explores the intimate, highly personal feelings common among people suffering from obesity. Moreover, the ad demonstrates empathy for their circumstances. Instead of focusing on the number of pounds lost, it seeks to build an emotional connection with the audience.

You don't have to re-invent the wheel to achieve a successful emotional advertising campaign, you just have to feel it. Our healthcare marketing firm knows how valuable this kind of advertising can be. It requires agencies to recognize the human condition and to convey the messages in a simple and straightforward manner.