What Is an Advertising Appeal?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden
Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

An advertising appeal is the primary claim used in an advertisement to market a particular product or service. Advertisements, whether they appear in print, on the Internet, on billboards, or on television, usually have one major claim that they use to increase the appeal of a specific product. In most cases, the advertising appeal used in a given advertisement has little to do with the merits of the product itself. Professionals in advertising instead try to appeal to the emotions, social preferences, or other aspects of their target demographics. They tend to use words, images, and music to demonstrate how purchasing a given product or service will increase one's social standing, happiness, attractiveness, or other aspects of one's self.

There are many different types of advertising strategies that are intended to appeal to different aspects of one's character. One highly prevalent type of advertising appeal is the emotional appeal. An emotional appeal is intended to create an emotional state favorable to the aims of the advertisers in those who see or hear a given advertisement. Emotional appeals are usually made based on human desires for happiness, comfort, and social recognition, or fear of social danger or social rejection. Specific emotionally-charged words, phrases, images, or music clips are used to subtly suggest that the product or service advertised will increase one's overall emotional satisfaction with life.

Though the emotional appeal is probably the most common type of advertising appeal, many other types of appeals can be used independently of or in conjunction with emotional appeals. Humor, for instance, is a common advertising appeal because it tends to link a product or service with a clever and humorous message that may remain in the viewer's mind for quite some time. Romance and sexuality are also commonly used types of advertising appeals. Many advertisements suggest that the use of a product or service will make one more attractive and more successful in romantic and sexual pursuits.

In some cases, an advertising appeal is intended to be universal while in other cases the appeal is targeted at a specific audience. Many advertisements for toys and games, for instance, emphasize just how much fun a child can have with the product. This type of advertising appeal may be effective on children and on parents, but few others are likely to want to buy products intended for children. Similarly, advertisements for expensive suits and elegant jewelry tend to emphasize the manner in which such products make one appear classy and successful, thereby appealing to wealthy and successful individuals more than to budget-conscious and practical people.

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Discussion Comments


@kylee07drg – I have noticed that. Maybe it's because people associate fizz and bubbles with a good time, so it works to appeal to their social needs.

With soda, it is hard to focus just on flavor, because all that carbonation demands attention and steals the scene. With food, it is easier for ads to just appeal to a person's sense of taste and smell.

I've noticed that when a restaurant has an ad featuring its food, they will always use the choicest vegetables and freshest bread available. Everything looks so much more appealing in the ad than it does when you actually go to the restaurant.

However, they lure me in. When you show me a big, juicy steak glazed in its own juices or succulent seafood dripping with a buttery garlic sauce, you may as well have passed it under my nose.


Has anyone else noticed that all ads for soda pop have a fun and cool appeal? They are trying to tell consumers that if they drink this product, they will have a blast and be suddenly cooler somehow, it seems.

I've seen soda ads with people skating, biking, and doing other fun activities. Sometimes, colorful visual effects are used, and bubbles float through the air around the people drinking the soda.

The one thing always included in these ads is a group of people having fun. The message seems to be that you will not be a lonely, boring person if you buy this pop.


Often, certain prescription medications have advertisements that appeal to emotion. One type of drug that always uses this approach is depression medication.

Ads will show a person looking sad, and they will even show the person's family members or pets saddened by their behavior and mood. The second half of the ad always shows the person smiling and having fun with people or throwing a ball for their dog.

The ads always tell consumers that they don't have to live this way. There is help, and you can be happy and enjoy life again.

I'm not clinically depressed, so I have no idea whether the drugs actually do what the ads claim they can. It is a good emotional appeal, though, because a depressed person is likely seeking anything that can make them feel good again.


Every perfume or cologne ad I have ever seen has tried to be romantically appealing. They often wind up looking cheesy and overdone, but they get their point across.

Lots of the ads feature scantily clad couples passionately embracing or kissing. Of course, the people in the ad are models. No one would get the appeal if regular looking people were used in the ad.

Cologne ads in particular focus on how suddenly irresistible a man becomes when he applies the product. Often, more than one woman will run to him and start caressing him.

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