Emotion AI Market Research Media Analytics

Emerging from Lockdown: How Advertisers Can Authentically Meet the Public Mood



For US consumers, concern surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic has been slowly declining, however unease still remains, especially in the face of increasing cases of the more transmissible Delta variant. 

At Affectiva, our technology is tuned to understand underlying emotional responses, so consumers just watch content; they don’t have to think about how they feel or even realize how they feel in the moment as they're watching. Earlier on in the pandemic we found that to create emotionally resonate copy, advertisers needed to respond with authentic empathy to the challenges consumers faced. Tangible help was warmly felt, but generic ‘we’re all in it together’ messaging largely turned consumers off. 

At this stage of the pandemic, in summer 2021, how can advertisers authentically meet the public mood? Is it even possible for advertisers to assume any kind of widespread, uniform ‘public attitude’ around the pandemic, or should they instead steer clear of anything too explicitly centered around COVID? 

We asked our new Friends & Family AI Advancement Group to help us understand more on the topic. The group watched three different ads while we unobtrusively measured their underlying emotional responses to those ads.The chosen ads all focused on “emerging from lockdown” as an underlying theme, with all three striking a powerful emotional chord with consumers.

The Results

This Guiness ad successfully captured a mood of longing for the world ‘reopening’ and specifically focused on the human and social interactions we’ve missed. Shown below is a positive build in valence, net emotional positivity, throughout the ad. It gives viewers some mental space, to personally reflect and work out some of their own emotions, peaking with the scene of friends catching up over drinks. The emotional warmth is significantly felt at the sociable pub occasion, with the brand central to that experience.

Affectiva Emotion AI Guiness Ad test

One takeaway is that advertisers need to be careful though, and keep things light. Focusing on the shared experiences we’ve missed, allowing for positive personal reflections. This Pepsi ad is also successful at eliciting a positive emotional response, with humor really resonating in scenes such as the passenger asleep on his seat mate on the plane. This represented a good direction for the ad to take, as viewers were somewhat skeptical to begin with, evidenced by furrowed brows at the phrase “if we all do our part”. Brands should be wary of straying into what may be considered territories more relevant for public health messaging.

Affectiva Emotion AI Pepsi Ad test

Finally, this Extra ad successfully shines a light on shared aspects of the adversity experienced. The humor around the toilet paper roll really sparks the ad emotionally, with positive feelings then maintained throughout. The ad effectively applies humor to aspects of the pandemic experience where it is possible (in hindsight) to be more light hearted; around toilet paper, zoom calls and missed romantic opportunities! 

Affectiva Emotion AI Extra Gum Ad test

What have we learned?

The social interactions we’ve missed during the pandemic are potentially powerful emotional territories for advertisers to work into their creatives. Further, humor done right with empathy, sufficient ‘distance’ and appropriate tonality can work for brands. All the brands here have successfully elicited positive emotional reactions.

Applying Affectiva’s flexible Emotion AI platform enables our partners to analyze creative content for clear optimization advice, whilst also delivering confidence in ROI from our validated range of Emotion AI measures. 

Interested in learning more about how your brand can use Affectiva’s Emotion AI technology to better understand advertising content and viewer behavior? Get in touch!

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Emotion AI Market Research Media Analytics