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Emotional Connection is Key to Advertising Success in the Banking Industry

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Advertising executives have long known about the need to create an emotional connection with consumers in order for an advertisement or entire campaign to be truly successful. This appears to be particularly prominent in the financial industry, where consumers often want a relationship with a trusted partner and are generally looking to maintain that relationship long-term.

Given the current economy, the state of Social Security, and the approaching retirement of many baby boomers, it is no secret that retirement is not what it used to be, nor will it likely be the same tomorrow. Retirement and long-term care insurance providers are reacting to this changing climate and working to show they are adaptable and suited to the needs of more active retirees—today and tomorrow.

As part of an ongoing effort to monitor and understand trends in advertising, AcuPOLL® Research, Inc., conducted a study comparing two recent nationally aired ads from the new Fidelity and Allianz campaigns. Both campaigns are clearly focused on the changing face of retirement; however, results show that they are very different in terms of their ability to motivate, appeal to, and ultimately make that crucial emotional connection with consumers.

Both were fast-paced ads featuring high-energy retirees participating in activities not normally associated with retirement, and both provided only a cursory glance into the company and its services. The Fidelity ad told the life story of a couple (Richard and Nancy) from childhood sweethearts to business partners. The Allianz ad featured several older characters participating in non-traditional retirement activities, such as skydiving, kayaking, or in the case of the only woman featured, using a blowtorch to create a giant sculpture.

Both ads were exposed to a group of 100 consumers aged 18-plus. While this was perhaps not necessarily the target audience, we found very few significant differences between the responses of 18-to-44-year-olds and those aged 45-plus, suggesting that the responses are generally universal.

We asked consumers to evaluate the ads on a variety of normative measures, some of which are seen in Table 1. All in all, Fidelity strongly outperformed the Allianz ad on every key measure. This, however, does not truly explain why consumers reacted the way they did. AcuPOLL® takes the learning a step further into the realm of emotions.

Table 1 can be seen here:

An initial look into the eFactorTM analysis of both ads begins to clarify some of the reasons for this difference between the ads. The eFactorTM, based on Robert Plutchik's* theory that eight basic emotions are the building blocks for all human emotions, defines not only what consumers feel about an ad but also why they feel that way. To achieve this, we took consumers through a proprietary series of questions called "Unarticulated Emotional Elicitation."

Fidelity's ad predominantly results in feelings of joy (sample answer: "It shows how much you can accomplish with the right support"), trust ("They trusted each other and trusted Fidelity, which means I can trust Fidelity"), and anticipation ("I can't wait to grow old with my husband").

A pie chart of the Fidelity results can be seen here:

All of these suggest the opportunity for Fidelity to develop strong, long-lasting relationships with consumers, perhaps even reaching them at a younger age than would otherwise have been possible.

However, while the most prevalent emotion stemming from the Allianz ad was anticipation, the reasons behind it were quite different from those behind the Fidelity ad. Although almost all of the explanations provided for this feeling were generally positive in nature, they were focused on the adventurous activities themselves and not on Allianz or the company's services. In addition, this ad also provoked significant responses of anger and surprise for a variety of reasons, as consumers felt irritated by the "jumpy" pace and disappointed by the unrealistic portrayal of most retirees' lives.

A pie chart with the results of the Allianz ad can be seen here:

Additional results and our own experience in providing advice for optimizing ads for our clients also yielded a number of ideas that would strengthen both ads and increase their chances of creating stronger emotional connections with consumers.

Ultimately, while both ads were successful at generating emotional responses, we believe the Fidelity ad stands a much better chance of instilling an emotional connection. In turn, this emotional connection is the first step toward the ultimate goal: building a mutually beneficial, lifelong relationship with customers.

Jack Gordon is available for interviews.

About the Author:

Jack Gordon is the CEO of AcuPOLL Research, Inc., a global research agency that uses a patented system to provide companies with clear business recommendations based on a thorough analysis of customized data. Gordon is a graduate of Murray State University and began his career as an officer in the field of military intelligence, where he gained experience as an analyst of geopolitical affairs, and in the collection of worldwide intelligence. After eight years in the military, he started a career in marketing, working for Procter & Gamble, Beatrice, and My Own Meals. In 1991, he joined Richard Saunders International, a new product inventing firm, and helped launch AcuPOLL, becoming its first president.

AcuPOLL provides the fastest, most predictive, and most accurate research methodology. Over the past 10 years, AcuPOLL has quantitatively tested more than 20,000 new product ideas, giving it the largest, most current database in the marketing industry. AcuPOLL has predicted the success of new products, services, mail-order catalog items, retail concepts, advertising, promotions, and business services. AcuPOLL is an internationally recognized company with offices in Asia, Europe, Mexico, and South America. More information can be accessed at or by calling 513-943-0020.

*Emotions and Life: Perspectives from Psychology, Biology and Evolution by Robert Plutchik, 2003. Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Plutchik is Professor Emeritus of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a renowned authority on human emotions.

Contact Information:

Rodger Roeser, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing
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Popular tags:

 Fidelity  explanations  tables  insurance  economy  retirement  consumers  financial industry  providers  emotions

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