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Appeals Court — Common Appeals in Advertising.

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The world is full of bad advertising. Sometimes it’s because the ad is tone-deaf. Other times these ads are just flat-out boring. Unappealing. Without soul (We’re looking at you, AI). Usually, this results from laziness, but client “preferences” are also the culprit. So put away your starbursts and listen up. The best way to make an unappealing ad appealing is to use an ad appeal. 

Talking about advertising appeals can also be boring and lead people to the wrong conclusion. One might look at the list of appeals, point one out, and say let’s go with this one. We caution against that. It’s better to understand the wants and needs of your audience. This information can sometimes be revealed through research, but there’s an insight when ads are really good. 

Insights can literally come from anywhere. The client, the account planner, or even the intern is capable of — through personal experience — knowing what makes a particular audience tick. These insights lead to ideas, and ideas lead to great ads. The insight can also inform the appeal. Why is this all important? Because advertising appeals address the audience’s desires, help ads break through the clutter, and are — by their nature — relatable.

Emotional appeal.

We all know what it is to be emotional, so we won’t bore you with a lot of details you already know. Instead, we’ll just give you this example.

Music appeal.

There’s not much to say about the music appeal, but it’s usually pretty catchy like these.

Sex appeal.

Ah, the good, old-fashioned sex appeal. Some may find this offensive, but if done right, it can brighten anyone’s day. We had difficulty figuring out whether to use this particular example for a humor appeal spot. There’s a definite overlap. Watch this classic and decide for yourself.

Humor appeal.

Humor appeals are one of our favorites. This example we’re going to share is from the “Got Milk?” campaign, which — interestingly enough- was based on the insight that people didn’t think about milk until it wasn’t available. We think, on some level, this could be a fear appeal. Behold.

"Too many brands are looking for love when all their audience wants is a laugh. "

Fear appeal.

Fear appeals don’t have to scare the crap out of people because it could just be fear of missing out. But when fear is used in scarier ways, it can be effective and memorable. Anyone who saw this in the 60s will probably still remember it now.

Bandwagon, or popular appeal.

This appeal basically says if everyone else is doing it, why aren’t you? Case in point:

Rational appeal.

If you were advertising to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, a rational appeal would be the obvious choice. Sometimes though, it works great with regular folk, too. After all, who doesn’t like facts, statistics, and basic logic?

Endorsement appeal.

The original influencer marketing, the endorsement appeal depends upon a celebrity vouching for or shown using a product or brand.

…And the rest.

Typically, appeals fall in either the emotional or rational category, but there are a ton of others than what’s discussed here. For further research and understanding of advertising appeals, we recommend you start here.

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Ed Sharp

Ed brings 15 years of traditional and digital media sales experience to the agency, giving us a perspective most agencies don’t have. When he’s not working or seeking new knowledge, Ed hangs out with his wife, two kids, two dogs, one cat, and a hamster. And yes, the cat and hamster are best friends.

Chaney Given

Chaney is a talented and accomplished designer and illustrator, who has expanded his skill set to include motion graphics and video editing. With nearly a decade of experience, his client work includes Waterstep, Baptist Health, the Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Schools, First Harrison Bank, and many more