In advertising, emotion can create a commotion. That’s no shock.
If a campaign presses your buttons, it’s more likely to be shared.
If a campaign evoked anger or disgust, it too could go viral.
Of course, marketers should be looking to promote positive emotions over negatives ones but as they say, all publicity is good publicity.
Dr Rosanna Guadagno, head of the project, explained
Overall, we found that Internet memes go viral due to a psychological process called emotional contagion. Emotional contagion is a process through which emotions spread like a disease and are therefore considered contagious.
It can be effective because psychological contagion, a social influence process, conveys to people that the socially appropriate response is to engage in the same actions as that of the people – either physically or virtually – around them is the socially acceptable response.
Being able to fill your audience with light and laughter is a skill demonstrated by Bud Light in it’s 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII ad, focusing on the theme of #UpForWhatever (even better when you can bring a hashtag to the table).
Shock and disgust were used to promote the film Devil’s Due or the coffee shop stunt where a young lady used telekinesis to teach a ‘rude customer’ a lesson. This video was viewed over 52 million times on YouTube.
Particularly effective is encouraging the feeling of guilt as 2012’s Water Aid proved. An excellent campaign playing on Twitter’s well known hashtag #firstworldproblems and framing it to induce guilt.
So, brand managers, whatever digital campaign you use, for whatever product on whatever medium, make it emotional! It needs to hit the heart of your target audience. Failing that, it needs to freak them out. Your call.