Advertising appeals are communication strategies that marketing and advertising professionals use to grab attention and persuade people to buy or act. In rhetorical theory, the idea of an “appeal” dates back to Aristotle, who identified the three main appeals of communication (also known as the rhetorical triangle): ethos, pathos, and logos, or, in modern language, credibility, emotion, and logic. The idea was that, if you can establish yourself as credible (ethos), for example, you are more likely to persuade people. Likewise, if you tugged on your audience’s heartstrings (hit their emotions, pathos) or presented a logical argument (logos), you could persuade people to act. In other words, you (or your communication) appealed to people because you were credible, you affected their emotions, or you made logical sense.
Marketing and advertising gurus have been using appeals for as long as marketing and advertising have been a thing. Consider celebrity endorsements, which are prime examples of applying ethos, or the credibility/endorsement appeal. If you see an image with Jennifer Aniston holding a bottle of Smart Water, you are being appealed to by Aniston’s credibility (or, at the very least, her notoriety). If it’s good enough for her, the advertisers hope you’ll think and feel, then it’s good enough for the consumer who respects and adores her.
But modern-day advertisers didn’t stop at just the three appeals, as Aristotle did. While credibility, emotion, and logic in many ways do summarize the three broad ways in which people are persuaded, advertisers get much more specific in order to target their marketing communications approaches. Understanding the available appeals in marketing and advertising will put you in a position to be more creative, more persuasive, and ultimately more effective in your marketing and business communications.
THE ADVERTISING APPEALS YOU SHOULD KNOW
While there are more than twenty that exist, and it’s possible you could even coin your own, the list below addresses twenty of the most common advertising appeals used by marketing professionals today, listed alphabetically.
- Adventure Appeal
Appealing to a person’s sense of adventure and excitement. The goal of the adventure appeal is to make people feel like the excitement, action, entertainment, and sense of adventure will be enhanced if they purchase or use a product or service.
- Bandwagon Appeal
Appealing to people by making them feel like everyone else is doing it. The goal of the bandwagon appeal is to make people feel like since everyone else is doing something, they should to. It’s a persuasion-by-numbers tactic.
- Brand Appeal
Appealing to people who are brand-conscious and have certain proclivities towards brands. The goal of the brand appeal is to make people buy a product because the brand itself is a statement that the person hopes to associate with.
- Endorsement Appeal
Appealing to people by using a celebrity they admire and recognize. The goal of the endoresment appeal is to encourage people to buy a product or service or act a certain way because people they know, respect, admire, and recognize also use that product or service. Trust is built by using recognizable people.
- Fear Appeal
The fear appeal specifically appeals to a person’s fears in order to encourage them to buy or act. The goal of the feal appeal is to cause someone to fear an outcome or response if they don’t buy a product or act in such a way as to reduce risk.
- Humor Appeal
Appealing to a person’s sense of humor. Because most human beings like to laugh, humor is an effective appeal for grabbing attention and helping people remember and share information about a product or idea. The goal with humor is to help build a positive association with a product, service, or idea.
- Masculine/Feminine Appeal
Appealing to a person’s desire to be the perfect man or woman. Often used in clothing and beauty products, the goal of the masculine/feminine appeal is to make people feel if they use a product or service, then they are more attractive, sexier, stronger, or any other characteristic commonly associated with their gender or sex.
- Music Appeal
Appealing to a person’s tastes in sounds and music. The goal of the music appeal to help increase recall (as in jingles or mnemonics) and to encourage people to feel an emotion toward a product that they feel while hearing a particular song or sound.
- Personal (Emotional) Appeal
Appealing to a person’s emotions. The goal of the personal appeal is to make a consumer feel sad, angry, excited, jealous, fearful, proud, nostalgic, or any other emotion enough to encourage them to buy, donate, or act.
- Plain Appeal
Appealing to people by making something seem ordinary or plain. The goal of the plain appeal is to persuade people that a product, service, or idea may not be as strange or radical or extraordinary as people thing, but rather that it is normal and common.