Second Advertising Fundamental: Dominant Mood.

It can come as no surprise, that the importance of one unified impression fundamental sets the stage for the rest of the fundamentals that Schwerin and Newell points to in their research. And yes, the fundamentals are derived from research into more than 50.000 ads and TV-commercials. So these fundamentals then are much more than one man’s (or rather two men’s) grand tale of what works, and don’t work, in advertising. Make no mistake here. These research results sticks to efficient communication. Not as a bible, but as a kind of default setting for persuasion. You can always go against these rules of persuasion, but I would consider that as risky business.

In this research, Schwerin and Newell found that there was yet another a common denominator for successful persuasion in marketing.. Successful campaigns fall in one of two opposite poles of persuasion: they are either emotional or logical in their “argument”.

What does this mean?

Sometimes the easiest way to explain a thing is telling a story of what it is not. The argument here does not imply that you need to rid every emotional element from a logical advertisement. That is hardly possible. And, it does not imply that you need to get rid of all logical hints in an overall emotional advertisement. This is hardly possible either.

The lesson to be learned seems to be that you need to pick your main road; either logical or emotional. And you need to stay on that road as best you can. That can sometimes take some effort. You need to know what means you have to your disposal for staying on the road. These means could easily be some you find in the barebones toolbox. For instance, it will help you a lot if you are aware of the difference between denotation and connotation, when you draft you concept and later on, the specific layout for the e.g. print ad. You can use gestalt factors to hold things together (text and main visuals).

When you chose your main road you should chose one of the two options mentioned; emotional or logical. Do that, and you chose a dominant mood for your persuasion. And advertising is about persuasion of people.

Let’s be more specific.

I need your help in imagining the following picture (sorry I do not have one in the real). I need you to imagine a white refrigerator. About 1.80 meter tall, and 0.60 meter wide. Doors open so you can see the empty shelves. (It is a brand new refrigerator. Just unpacked).

Do you manage this? Are you able to smell it as well, and sense the depth of it? (You will be amazed of how many people, that will not be able to imagine such a simple scene, but I bargain that you are not one of them. So, I continue).

Here, then, you have this imaginary brand new and very white refrigerator, right? Next step: Now you will image a newspaper and reading it a Sunday morning. On the third page is a picture of that same refrigerator, that you have just imagined. The text that sits above of the picture reads like this: “Be there Sunday before 01.00 p.m, and you get this Siemens for half the price“. The text body goes on telling you about the size of the refrigerator, how good it is to cool your wine, milk and groceries, how cold it freezes, that you don’t have to de-ice it ever, and that it, in terms of energy, will help the polar bears to stay on the North Pole in stead of in the North Pole Zoo.

Such an advertisement, may indeed raise you emotions, but in terms of dominant mood it is riding the logical main road. You build up an argument, and you stay with that argument. The main string in such an argument could be size, price or polar bears. Or it could be something else. It am sure that you get it 🙂 

Now to the emotional advertisements, and the second of the two main road available within the scope of dominant moods. Let me see if I can find a suitable picture so that this post will not end up consisting of text only (people don’t read much nowadays). And this post has already too many words.

Here is a suitable picture. Let’s look at it. You look at it.


So, what have we got?

For sure, this is not then the inside or the outside of a refrigerator, as in our imagination above. No, this is a picture of two deck chairs in front of a Bacardi poster. Shot on board one of the large ferries taking people and cars from Copenhagen, Denmark to Oslo, Norway. Shot, as I recall, in 2006.

Now, to the next little experiment. Forget the refrigerator, and in your imagination place this picture over the whole page in the same Sunday paper, that you “had in your hands” a while ago. Add the following headline to it: Free Drinks

Having this image in you mind, would you say that this was a dominant mood of what: logic or emotion. Would you be travelling on the emotional road or the logical road. What do I hear you say? Do I hear you at all … no, I don’t so I will have to speak once more 🙂

You could, of course, say that the heading “free drinks” could be a part of a logical argument. For instance “free drinks and you will save money”, which most of us will understand as a reasonable argument. But in this context, I would argue that this imaginary advertisement is dominantly emotional. How do I come to that conclusion. Well, why not use the connotations that might come with this picture. Here are some suggestions: relaxation, vacation, travel, sunshine, good feeling, et cetera. 

And that is nearly all I have to say this time. Sorry for such a wordy post. YOU need to continue from here 🙂

Very quick summary. Dominant mode is one of the advertising fundamentals stressed by Schwerin and Newell in their research. You are better off if you chose one road, logic or emotion, in stead of trying to travel both at the same time.

You should notice, that research in advertising goes very well with more academic sources like semiology, gestalt psychology and with phenomenology, even if all these sources have not been made explicit in this post.

Basically, the idea of merging resources are what barebones communication is all about: How different sources of competence may work together. They can even do so in very practical situations. Like, for instance, analysing or “constructing” a piece of communication like “an advertisement”.

If you want to read the first post in this barebones section on advertising, please go here. For an overview go here.

Other posts

You’ll find direct links to the other posts in this series on advertising fundamentals, below. If the post title is linked, it means that the posts has been submitted, and that you will get to it if you follow the link. If the fundamental is not yet linked, it means that that the post is not there yet. So you need to have a little patience.

First Fundamental: One Unified Impression.

Second Fundamental: Dominant Mood.

Third Fundamental: Visual and Verbal.

Fourth Fundamental: The Simple Truth.

Fifth Fundamental: Product of Consumer.

Sixth Fundamental: The Right Consumer.

Seventh Fundamental: Thoughts Worth Entertaining.

If you want to go for the book making your learning curve steeper and faster, here is the Library Thing information on it. And you’ll get the full information here as well:  Persuasion in Marketing, The Dynamics of Marketing’s Great Untapped Resource, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1981.

Stay well. A post on the third fundamental will emerge on this blog soon.

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