Emotional appeals, including fear, anxiety, humor, sex, esteem, rational and social pressure, are tactics used to compel a consumer to make a purchase. Advertisers use humor, for instance, to present a brand image of light-hearted charm or to create positive associations to a brand. Similarly, sex appeal is used to link natural human interest in sensuality to features of a product or service.
Fear and anxiety are closely related emotional appeals. The goal is to compel a buyer to act based on fear or anxiety of an undesirable outcome. Home security systems are presented as a necessity to protect against natural fears of a home invasion. Insurance companies use these appeals to persuade people to buy coverage that protects against worst-case outcomes. Social fear or social pressure is closely related, as the premise is to get people to buy certain clothes, gadgets or trendy items in order to fit in.
Rational appeals are distinct from the many other forms of emotional advertising appeals. With rational appeals, advertisers present facts, data or logical points to motivate a buyer. Cost-benefit comparisons and value proposition demonstrations are often included in rational ad appeals. Appeals to a person's esteem are common in health and beauty commercials, where the message suggests consumers feel better about themselves after using a product.