Effective because it makes us feel fear.
As we all know, emotional advertising is far more effective than rational advertising.
Many clients have read about this, and are now specifically requesting emotional advertising.
Except, there's a problem.
Of the six basic human emotions... five are negative. Namely anger, fear, disgust, contempt, and sadness. (The only positive one is 'joy').
That's right. It's a pretty dark place, down there in your unconscious.
(Side note. Why are nearly all the basic human emotions so negative? There's an article on FastCompany here that explains it a bit. "It’s not that nature inclines us to hate. We’re profoundly social creatures designed to protect: our kin, our tribe, and ourselves." In other words, negatives resonate because we're wired to watch out for threats).
Hat tip to the writer, Douglas Van Praet, who is also the author of Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing.
So what are we to do with this information? Make all our ads as bleak as that scene in Terminator where the mechanised forces of Skynet crush human skulls beneath their wheels?
Um, yeah. Basically yes. I've written before about the power of the negative. At least start negative, before you end on a positive. Or in marketing terms, create a tension, and resolve it. That's how you generate some charge.
But we should also be aware that it's not just emotions, that our unconscious mind pays attention to.
According to Van Praet, our threat-obsession has also imbued us with a powerful (and pre-rational) 'startle response'. That's why surprising advertising works. Hence the power of 'prankvertising.'
And finally, we're obviously attuned to anything related to our survival and reproduction. Hence our love of food porn, and any ads with babies in.
In short, our unconscious minds are not turned on by facts and figures, but by primal stuff - emotions, things that are new and different (and therefore worthy of our attention), and anything to do with passing on our genes.
In really short, if you want to do good work, fill your ads with emotions, weird shit, and babies.