Using the right advertising strategy means you can not only reach your target audience but also appeal to new consumers. As we’ve said before, the best advertisements communicate valuable information to the consumer. consumer. There are dozens of advertising techniques out there, but we’ll cover enough of them so you can decide which ones will work best for your business.
What is persuasive advertising?
Under the umbrella of persuasive advertising are several advertising techniques and tactics. But each technique that falls under persuasive advertising has something in common: emotional appeal.
Instead of trying to convince customers with benefits, facts, or statistics, persuasive advertising tries to conjure an emotional response that will elicit a desired action from your target audience: making a purchase from your company.
The end goal of a persuasive advertisement is to establish a positive connection to your company. Hopefully, the positive feeling consumers feel is enough to convince them to choose you over a competitor.
How do persuasive advertising techniques elicit a desired action?
Persuasive advertising works by not just informing the consumer by making them feel smart. Persuasive advertisements convince people that once they’re informed about your product, brand, or service, they will be empowered enough to eventually make an informed purchase. Once you’ve established an advertising strategy with persuasive ads, you can:
- Build brand loyalty and customer advocacy
- Prove more value for your products or services
- Maintain credibility amongst consumers
- Establish a positive association with your brand
Persuasive advertising vs informative advertising
In geometry, all rectangles are considered squares but not all squares are considered rectangles. The same concept can be applied here.
Both these tactics persuade people. However, informative advertising only uses facts, statistics, and direct information to persuade consumers. It’s about attracting customers by educating them on the product’s benefits and features.
With persuasive advertising techniques, marketers typically assume the consumer already knows about the product or service. You may not even need to provide details on a particular product so long as you elicit an emotional response from the consumer.
Persuasive advertising examples and strategies
There are three types of emotion that are meant to persuade people: ethos, pathos, and logos.
Ethos persuades consumers with credibility, authority, and trust. Advertisements that use ethos demonstrate that your company has a reputable presence in your industry. Consumers can only trust you and your products if credibility is the bedrock of your brand.
In advertising, one of the primary ways to build this trust is with either an authority figure or a celebrity testimonial. For example, if you sell skincare, you could create an advertisement where a famous celebrity (with flawless skin) endorses your products. Or, if your company sells basketball shoes, an ad with a famous basketball player could establish credibility.
In general, even just having ads with positive images of that celebrity or industry professional can persuade customers.
Pathos uses emotional appeals the most by trying to elicit feelings like joy, nostalgia, sympathy, frustration, or surprise. Advertisements that use pathos allow you to connect with the consumer and persuade them to take action (engaging with your company or making a purchase) based on how they’re feeling.
Pathos ads rely on storytelling, connection, and humanity. If you want customers to donate to your animal nonprofit, showing an ad with a cute puppy can really pull at the heartstrings. Or, if you want customers to know your clothing business cares about climate change, you can create an ad with an influential message on how your company doesn’t use toxic fabrics, actively fights against fast fashion, and uses sustainable packaging.
Logos appeals to the consumer’s sense of logic and intellect. Advertisements that use logos persuade consumers with data, facts, or statistics. For example, if you work in the marketing department at a university and you want to make an advertisement that boosts football recruitment, you could include a statistic about how the school is #10 in defense in the country.
Now, you’re wondering if this sounds a lot like informative advertising, and you’re not wrong! Informative advertising and logos persuasive advertising are indeed similar, so let’s go over how they differentiate:
Informative advertising vs logos persuasive advertising
Informative advertising: Usually straightforward by using details, statistics, and other quantifiable information. While marketing teams do use informative ads for persuading customers, they do so with truthful facts and rational thinking. They don’t intend to use facts to make consumers feel anything in particular.
- Example: Eastern University football has been ranked #10 in defense since 1974. Sign up for a campus tour today to learn more about our exceptional football program. Recruitment starts September 1st.
Logos persuasive advertising takes advantage of the statistics and contextualizes them for the consumer to feel well-informed. Logos advertisements thrive by expanding on the facts and data to come to a persuasive conclusion. It all comes down to making sure the consumer gets a positive feeling from choosing your brand.
- Example: Starting September 1st: Recruitment for one of the top 10 best defense teams in the country. Get a tour of Eastern University today and see if you have what it takes to live up to the last 50 years of successful defense.
Examples of persuasive ads
Let’s go over some ethos, pathos, and logos persuasive advertising examples that you may recognize.
Ethos: Uber Eats
In 2021, UberEats launched their “Tonight I’ll be Eating” campaign starring Sir Elton John and Lil Nas X—two celebrities young and old music fans are sure to recognize. Known for their elaborate outfits and stage presences, the musicians both describe what they’ll be eating from Uber Eats as they don the other person’s clothing.
In one ad, Sir Elton wears one of Lil Nas’s bedazzled, pink cowboy suits from his debut “Old Town Road” era, and Lil Nas wears Sir Elton’s brightly feathered costume from the “Rocketman” movie.
Now, Sir Elton and Lil Nas are not known for their culinary skills, so they aren't necessarily the perfect match. However, these persuasive ads are still prime examples of ethos. Just the presence of both musicians in each other’s theatrical, dazzling clothes is enough to make customers think about Uber Eats in a positive light.
Pathos: Burger king
In 2022, Burger King Germany released their “Pregnancy Whopper” campaign ahead of Mother’s Day. The campaign first surveyed expecting mothers on their unorthodox pregnancy cravings. Then, for one day at one location, the fast food chain served that specific audience a variety of Pregnancy Whoppers, from pickles and whipped cream to sunny-side-up eggs and bananas to even fried fish, curry, and bratwurst.
Their ads showed expecting mothers diving into each Whopper with a sense of excitement while the women’s male partners exhibited confusion.
What makes this campaign one of the best examples of pathos is the variety of emotions it amassed from people across the globe. For some—particularly pregnant women—seeing the Pregnancy Whoppers elicited positive emotions, like joy, satisfaction, and gratification.
However, the campaign also prompted negative emotions from non-pregnant customers, like disgust, bewilderment, and shock. Ultimately, the ad’s message garnered so much social media and internet attention that Burger King soon became infamous for its ability to spark delight and disgust amongst consumers.
In 2006, the ShamWow infomercial was on nearly everyone’s TV screen in the United States. The television advertisement features a fast-talking, energetic salesman who dives straight into the usefulness and value of the ShamWow towel within the first five seconds of the ad.
The host describes the ShamWow as a highly absorbent, washable towel and then immediately shows live demonstrations by wiping surfaces and wringing out excess liquid. As he makes statistical declarations—such as the towel soaking “up to twenty times its weight in liquid” and that it “lasts ten years”—the host shows more footage to back up his claims.
The original ShamWow commercial is a major example of logos. The host not only tells the viewer about the product’s value and benefits, but he is quick to demonstrate them in real time too. By letting the audience see the ShamWow’s results and effectiveness, the ad makes it seem like the viewer is being given plenty of real-world, factual information to be persuaded.
Persuasive techniques in advertising
Now that we’ve gone over what persuasive advertising is and the three fundamental emotions that are tied to it, let’s go over some more-specific persuasive advertising techniques.
The bandwagon appeal relies mostly on social pressure or the belief that “everyone else is doing it.” When a company appeals to popular trends, customers will start to feel like they may be missing out if they don’t purchase from your brand. An example of the bandwagon appeal could be promoting a restaurant as having healthy or organic options because of the common belief that eating healthier is better for you.
Carrot and the stick
This phrase originated as a metaphor by combining reward and punishment. The carrot and the stick technique is similar to the bandwagon appeal, but instead it implies that a customer will gain something if they use your product or service but lose something if they don’t.
For example, a company that sells cybersecurity software could persuade a customer by promising improved security and protection from hackers. Simultaneously, this ad would imply that if you don’t purchase that software, you will become vulnerable to cyberattacks.
The scarcity principle
The scarcity principle makes it seem like your product or service has increased value from limited availability. For example, some marketers will use a countdown clock on an online shopping bag page or send push notifications that customers only have so much time to take advantage of an exclusive offer.
The scarcity principle ultimately elicits a sense of urgency to the customer, persuading them that they need to buy from you now—before it’s all gone!
Instead of making the customer feel like they can be like everyone else—as seen with the bandwagon appeal—the snob appeal makes the customer feel like they can be superior to everyone else. This type of persuasive advertising speaks to the customer’s uniqueness, implying that they could become part of an elite group of people with good taste or high status.
Many brands that use this advertising tactic legitimately sell lavish, high-end products, like luxury cars, clothes, or jewelry. However, most companies don’t need to sell luxury products to use the snob appeal tactic.
Some examples could be a baby food commercial implying that the viewer will be a great, attentive parent if they use their product, or a perfume brand implying that their product will make the customer smell better than anyone else in the room.
As we’ve mentioned with ethos persuasive advertising, the celebrity testimony is ideal for making your brand seem desirable or glamorous. Lots of people look up to celebrities or influencers. We tend to value their opinion and trust them simply because they’re famous.
If a celebrity says that they use your brand’s makeup, people are more likely to buy from your brand. If an influencer supports your company’s mission, people are likely to believe that you have an ethical mission. This works in politics all the time too with politicians endorsing other politicians or celebrities stating publicly who they’re voting for.
Remind influencers of legal cautions
According to the United States Federal Trade Commission, it is illegal to create “deceptive ads,” which are social media posts that do not specify whether or not someone is being paid to endorse your brand, product or service.
If you pay a celebrity or influencer to endorse you through social media, you should ensure their post makes it obvious that they have a “material connection” to your brand. As the business owner or CEO, you will not get in trouble, but the influencer will. That's why it's important to remind them that they must clearly disclose that they are gaining financial compensation.
Second person approach
This advertising approach can be applied to a variety of persuasive ad types. Using second person pronouns—you, your, and yours—helps you connect to your audience on a personal level. It projects your idea of their persona back onto them to help them visualize how they should engage with your brand.
Plain folks is a persuasion technique that has been around for decades by using regular, “plain” people to promote something. This tactic reverses the snob appeal by saying “we’re just like you” instead of saying “you’ll be just like us.” Ads that use plain folks show every-day people using regular products or services, implying that the brand is reliable, common, and relatable.
Sometimes, celebrities and influencers use this tactic to demonstrate that they’re regular people just like you who need groceries, cleaning supplies, a reliable insurance company, or—in the case of our ethos example—a takeout meal.
American politicians will also use this technique to connect more with their voters since being a down-to-earth “Average Joe” is more relatable than being affluent and privileged.
In summary: persuasive advertising relies on emotional appeal
Marketing teams use persuasive advertising to reach their customers on an emotional level. By doing so, they can build brand loyalty, understand each customer on an individual level, and establish a positive association with their company's products or services.
Don’t underestimate the emotional connection customers can have with brands. When consumers feel like they have been fully convinced to choose your business, you create an emotional bond with people who are likely to keep coming and may even advocate for your company to others.