"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This famous quote from Maya Angelou can come in very handy when you're trying to persuade a decision-maker that it's better to underdo rather than overdo the rational component of their advertising.
You will never argue someone into liking you, you have to make them feel something first.
Most advertising theory now accepts this principle, that the heart should have primacy over the head. That's why we get models such as love-choose-buy and its various iterations (eg feel-think-do).
The argument that love or feeling should come ahead of thought or reason has been considerably bolstered in recent years by advances in neuroscience, not least our understanding of intuitive System 1 thought processes (or, more accurately, lack of thought processes).
That said, a few years ago the model was threatened by the rapid ascendancy of performance marketing. In contrast to the hard metrics associated with programmatic, SEO and clickthrough, softer measures such as brand fame and brand love came under pressure.
But, after some notable U-turns from some prominent doubters, the big ad and the big feel are back. Indeed, given current double-digit levels of TV media inflation, the return of emotion might well have further to go.
Which leaves a question hanging over the middle tier in the layer cake of love-choose-buy. Just like love, the role of buy is assured. Yes, performance budgets might have been reined in from their peak but, given their inherent accountability, they will continue to command a significant chunk of overall spend.
In light of this, a client might well decide to focus more and more of the remaining budget on appeals to the heart (love) rather than the head (choose) so as not to dilute resources.
If we put our foot on the ball for a moment, this is all a long way away from concepts such as the USP and brand differentiation which guided a lot of thinking in the 1980s and the 1990s.
In one of my numerous advertising apprenticeships (at WCRS) I was taught to "interrogate the product until it confesses to its strengths". No mention of anything so woolly as a brand, let alone feelings. The starting point for most briefs was a product story, a proof point, or a reason to believe.