If there is one universal truth it’s that we all have a heart. Marketing has always been about the ability to turn a want into a need. In recent years, brands have become particularly sharp in the way they do it.

Welcome to emotional marketing – Valentines Special by Creative Engineers. 


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Today, we know that technology can’t feel, but has the ability to store all our memories, and we are allowing it to.

“Computers are not just built to hold data in a vacuum. They hold and filter our own information. And as the tools to access that stored data becomes more accessible and ubiquitous, are brains are left to accomplish other things. We are quite literally becoming part human and part machine.”

Many of our brain functions and cognitive activities are now effortlessly uploaded onto our phones. Our mobile devices are storing our contacts, addresses, people we interact with – the rate at which we interact with them, the words we are likely to use and search the most. These devices effectively store much of our beliefs and value-system, through a non-emotional membrane. What does this mean?

That many of our decisions will be subconsciously granted to machine thinking, which is binary. However, as humans, we are inherently dichotomous. 


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” All this means is that those rational decisions will more and more often be ceded to computations, algorithms, and the like. It’ll weigh hundreds of options and combinations, guiding you to the most rational choice. Our brain power will be reserved for the things those algorithms have more trouble solving for. Which is all very interesting when you start to consider the power there is in that. What this means is that we’ll be consistently playing in much more unstable places, finding relevancy not in a single unique selling proposition, but in a brand’s ability to find motivations that run much deeper than most of our branding models are capable of accomplishing today.

This means resolving problems far less solvable within a few words on a brief. It means creating things more meaningful and lasting than campaigns. It means not only ceding brand ownership to the audience in the rhetorical but in the literal. It means not only activating audiences but providing the space for disparate groups to find commonality. And it means not only affecting messages but radicalizing products and services in ways that disrupt simple comparisons. Which is all to say that we’ll look less to slogans and more for purposes.”


So what are brands doing to keep you wanting more? They play with your rational response to your emotions, based on how emotional you are about your rationale. But how?


  • They are making their brand human. Who can resist good charm and mournful eyes? We are talking about the concept of the ‘market of one’ –  the attitude where marketers treat at the audience as individuals, recognizing each unique attribute and acting accordingly. This means that market segments need to studied in depth from a sociological, socio-economic, political and philosophical perspective – tools like personalized outreach with IP detection are helping, but there are many more other algorithm-defining softwares that may be grouping you ‘ individually’. With growing distrust in hard-sells, the job of a marketer has become a lot more insidious and fascinating. It’s not enough to just build a character the consumer can relate to for a campaign, the real gold comes when the consumers adore the brand’s personification through relation. “In situations where the characters are designed to build awareness, it is a challenge to make these characters do something more sophisticated when the need for awareness has passed,”. There are different ways in which brands do this.

Below is an example of how Nike used the musical and social-media hype, born out of the current political state of affairs (burning flame) around the LGBT community to garner the attention of their #BeTrue collection. A line aimed at an age bracket between teenage years and late 30’s who subscribe to liberal thinking, and of course, gathered the attention of those who have always been part of, or fighting for LGBT people. 


  • Like any good lust story, which was never really about love, brands will give you just enough to keep you wanting more.  Brands are creating stories that last beyond campaigns. They are creating stories that make you think and question. Ideas that hit such personal strings that make you think that the brand understands you. Invertedly, this gives the consumer the impression that they are part of the brand and brand culture. In this over-competitive market, effective branding satisfies your need for belonging.


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  • They won’t tell you that they love you but they’ll make you feel like you want them to. Brand advocacy and cause-driven marketing are real favorites. They are saying: “I have all the right cards for you to love me – I am caring, innovative, compassionate, smart and popularly loved – what are you offering me? How can you not want to be associated with me?”. Because that is what brands work on, your acceptance and integration of self in a social structure driven by consumerist norms.

It can as subtle as this Flicker inspired banner below- what is it saying? We are great minds, aren’t you? It also plays on the familiarity and feel related to the phrase ‘ great minds think alike’. What more can you spot about this banner?



Ultimately, this kind of marketing seems to the only option marketers have, after all it’s all about what the client resonates with. If anything Valentines high-lights the morbid, sadistic correlation between trying to make sense of what of sense knows nothing – the heart.

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.” – Blaise Pascal”





To learn more about AI, strategic innovation and all marketing related topics, check out our insights page on Creative Imagineering.