Using Negative Emotion in Advertising

A much debated, and often researched topic in advertising is whether it is appropriate to base your sales message on positive emotions or negative ones. I was reminded of this argument while I was watching one of the newest Citibank commercials on TV last week.

If you watch this commercial, you can understand what this person is feeling. We’ve all been there. And it’s not good. And even though they’re not using the negative emotion to sell you a need, they are putting a negative feeling in your head while they market their product.

I’ve always been a strong proponent of selling the positive, not the negative. When you use negative emotions to sell your product, you’re associating those emotions with your product. And even though this may work, and in some industries it will work better than others, you’re not creating the type of excitement around a product that positive emotions can create.

Now there are plenty people who will tell me that I’m wrong. And this is not the type of argument that has a definitive conclusion as yet. Some of the best and brightest marketers and sales professionals will tell you that negative emotion can work, because you create the need for your product or service. You’re filling a gap.

However many products, and the Citibank app is one of these, don’t fill a gap. A better association with this app might be the happiness someone feels when they can do something at home instead of wasting time at the bank. What else can they get done? How much time can they save?

Whatever side of the argument you come down on, I’m interested in hearing it. Use the comments below to share your opinions.