Buying is an emotional act. Science bears this out. Functional MRI scans, in fact, show that people often rely on emotions rather than information when evaluating brands. Other studies have found that the emotions triggered by an ad influence a potential customer’s intent to buy far more than the actual content – by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials.
A perfect case study for this is Whirlpool’s “Every day, care” campaign. In addition to being a solid example of the power of visual storytelling, the campaign’s television ads focus on the small, everyday acts of kindness that often go unnoticed, but have remarkable impact. The spots evoke strong emotions, and maybe even a few sniffly tears. Whirlpool has also created a website for the project, and invites people to share examples of #EveryDayCare on social media.
The campaign has been a success for Whirlpool, which has seen a 6.6% increase in sales since its launch. In the competitive household appliances market, a jump of this size is remarkable. Whirlpool has demonstrated it understands the values and emotions of its customers – and they are responding.
The Way I See It
- Whirlpool’s television ads take viewers through an emotional story with a powerful arc that focuses on kindness, compassion, and everyday small acts of caring. They are well-crafted and tuned to the company’s target consumer audience. The 6.6% increase in sales since the campaign started is proof of that.
- The Whirlpool campaign is the perfect example of using emotions in advertising the right way. Many, many companies have run ads that tried to trigger emotions in customers — and failed miserably. Emotion is a powerful tool, but must be used carefully and with extreme sensitivity. Only companies that truly understand the values of their customers, like Whirlpool obviously does, can pull this off.
The Way Industry Sees It
I sat down with Bill Beck, Vice President, NAR Brand Marketing at Whirlpool, to discuss the “Every day, care” campaign and the use of emotion in advertising.
What prompted you to create the “Every day, care” campaign?
For years the appliance industry had one way of advertising – showcase the latest feature and hope consumers would remember the name of the brand offering the appliance. It was basically a sea of sameness and what we called “cold metal” – there was no emotional connection with the consumer. At Whirlpool we knew there was so much more we could do to unlock the potential of the brand. We felt there was an opportunity to convey to consumers how our appliances play a vital role in the care they provide to their families every day. It is this “care” that guides us to deliver purposeful innovation in each Whirlpool appliance.
The campaign is so perfectly tuned to your target audience. What kind of market research did you do?
We partnered with our agencies to dig into the brand purpose, focusing on Whirlpool consumers, our products and brand history. Through the work we developed several territories which were tested using psychographic research to understand how consumers reacted and felt (both articulated and unarticulated) about the work. From the research we optimized the idea and developed creative. Each creative execution was tested for overall ad effectiveness. Post launch, we continue to monitor our results through brand health, advertising effectiveness and cross media studies to make sure everything we do is talking to our target consumer.
Any other trends you saw in terms of what your customers are wanting from a brand right now?
In today’s digital word consumers are expecting to build a relationship with your brand. The impact of social media, ratings and reviews, and other digital platforms has enabled brands and consumers to have a conversation. It is through these conversations relationships are built. It is no longer good enough to just talk about your product and price point. Consumers want to know what your brand stands for and most importantly what are you doing to prove it. Transparency is key. Brands that are doing this well are capturing customers for life.
How did you decide on the stories to tell in the ads? Are there specific segments of your target audience you’re trying to reach in each one?
We wanted to show real life stories that depicted how daily chores play a big role in taking care of families. We studied our target consumer to understand their day-to-day life and built creative around those insights. In one of our laundry ads we show parents asking questions to their kids, asking what are they doing or how did they do something in rapid fire. We tied those questions to our product by saying “Asking questions, that’s caring – and that’s why Whirlpool developed its new laundry pair that simply asks ‘what’ and ‘how’ to provide the perfect wash.” Anyone who watches the spot can relate to similar scenarios they have experienced in life.
What is the line between heart-warming and overly sentimental/saccharine? How did you ensure you stayed on the right side?
Authenticity was critical for us as we developed the work. We knew if we weren’t authentic in each story we depicted, the line would be crossed. Not crossing the line was a big deal for us and the key was that every person on the team, from the brand to the agency to the production house knew what we were trying to capture. The research we conducted prior to each shoot helped us hone in on what consumers thought was relatable and what was too stretched.
What’s the most interesting thing in your office?
The lights in our common areas. A few years back we moved into a modern office building with open stairwells and exposed rafters. Rather than use commercial style lighting, the design team chose to create lights using the metal tubs from our washers and dryers. It is amazes me how often the lights go unnoticed as we briskly walk under each light to our next meeting, but every so often I get the chance to point out the lights and it is fun to see each person’s reaction.