How to make an audience angry (and consequently sell more)

Unsurprisingly, manipulation often plays a huge part in content marketing.

Headlines are designed to provoke specific emotions so you are driven to click on them. 

Sometimes, marketers choose to make you furious. Sometimes, bursting with laughter. More often than you may have realised, completely depressed.

Each emotion is a very good tool in the marketer’s arsenal. Emotions make you irrational and easier to manipulate.

And I may sound like a sociopath while I say this, but making you angry and depressed is what marketers do best.

This is especially true in social media marketing, where emotions like anger and sadness often get more likes and shares than joy and happiness. 

Politics is a great example of this: how often have you voted for a candidate just because they successfully riled you up against an opponent or against a specific target demographics? 

Anger has disastrous social consequences, but they are a great way to drive results. 

Anger is a signal that something is wrong and we should change a said thing.

Are you angry your appliances keep breaking? Change them by buying a brand-new dishwasher.

Angry with your current situation? Blame someone else and vote for the politician who promises to change a said thing.

Angry at life in general? They sure have a self-help book ready for you to purchase.

Anger plays a vital role in marketing. And in this article, we will teach you how to make an audience angry (and how to make a profit out of it).

What is emotion marketing?

Is outrage the most profitable emotion?


Before we dive into what could possibly be the opposite of an anger management class, we need to talk about emotion marketing and how vital it is to content marketing strategies.

By definition, emotion marketing deliberately manipulates user emotions to drive a certain action. The most effective pieces will only use a single emotion, such as happiness, fear or anger, and take advantage of a user’s emotional state to compel them to perform a certain action.

According to Forbes, individuals with positive emotions associated with a brand are 8 times more likely to buy from them. However, ads that elicit a negative emotion are 23% more effective.

Hold on, you are probably thinking. This doesn’t make any sense.

Why would you make a negative ad if you want your customer to associate your brand with a positive emotion?

This is where it gets really manipulative.

The most effective emotional marketing strategies do in fact make a user feel negative by showing them a problem in a way that is amplified.

You want a user to feel depressed because their dishwasher keeps breaking. Then, you want them to feel happy because you showed them a way out of their problem.

Why is it important and how does it work?

Understanding a customer’s emotional state at the time of purchase is exactly how you make exceptional emotional branding.

For example, a couple of days ago I was shopping online and I stumbled upon a £2000 shirt from Gucci and Adidas.

So it got me thinking… Why would anybody spend £2000 on a shirt?

Is it because you genuinely think it’s a good shirt, or is it because you want to flaunt your money around and impress others?

That is right. The company successfully appealed to your sense of pride to get you to buy something you wouldn’t otherwise spend so much on. No shirt in the world is worth that price tag – and yet, emotion marketing drives people to spend a little fortune on something that would be meaningless if emotion didn’t play such a huge part in things. 

Emotional branding is 52% more profitable than standard branding. For example, we like to associate our brand with efficiency and want to achieve things fast. Gucci associates theirs with pride and a desire to impress others.

Companies like Kodak use nostalgia to stay afloat, and Mcdonald’s, weirdly enough, uses love to sell more burgers. 

Each emotion tends to perform better on with certain actions. It also gets users to do more specific things.

For example, we have seen social media marketing metrics perform significantly better when we used a variety of emotions depending on what the ad was supposed to accomplish.

Happiness gets more likes and shares. The most liked Facebook post of all time belongs to Nick Vuijic’s family at the beach.

Sadness gets more clicks. As proof, The vast majority of news articles are written to make you sad or disgusted by current events regardless of what happens.

Just go on BBC and you’ll notice a sad piece being on top. For example, “why more Australians are giving up their pets” is one of the most clicked pieces at the time of writing.

– Fear drives more loyalty because you give users a “comfort zone” where they aren’t scared of being misunderstood. Eg. In political campaigns, fear is a great way to get more votes. Former president Donald Trump is considered to have one of the most loyal followers of all time thanks to his campaign heavily based on this emotion.

Anger is the number one way to go viral. Just think of what Adidas did with their “Believe in something” campaign.

Examples of emotional marketing campaigns

Patagonia – Facing Extinction

Global warming should make you pretty angry – stopping the apocalypse is not profitable enough, which seemingly justifies the inaction of politicians and companies alike. 

“Tell Congress there is no room in government for climate deniers”, says the advertisement.

As you can see, Patagonia evokes a sentiment of anger in their audience and encourages them to take action on Global Warming – most specifically, those who deny the facts.

Facing Extinction plays on the customer’s fear of global warming to generate awareness of a problem.

Why does it exist? – The clothing retailer’s brand revolves around environmentally conscious decisions and causes. The company has donated well over $100 million in grants and kinds.

Why does it work? – The advertisement evokes a sentiment of anger and despair – however, it also encourages them to take action to prevent the thing that gives them this emotion. This is an extremely effective call to action. While it doesn’t necessarily advertise a product, it is a brilliant way to generate brand awareness.

Outcome –  The campaign reached well over 4 million people and achieved around 26 million impressions across a variety of channels. It also encouraged youth activists in the world to take action on global warming.

Lysol – Protect like a mother

As you have seen, sometimes emotional marketers don’t even need to advertise their products at all – this was especially true for Lysol. “Protect like a mother” taps into the maternal instinct of protecting your child – and weirdly, all of this is to advertise a disinfectant spray!

The message is highly effective, yet incredibly simple: if you use this product, you’ll be able to better protect your children.

Why does it exist? – Lysol is famous for killing germs and pulling a mother’s heartstrings. 

Why does it work? – The piece taps into a mother’s innate fear of losing his child. However, it simultaneously validates all of their efforts and celebrates a mother’s fierceness, which evokes a sentiment of trust.

The ad works well because it successfully delivers an emotion, instead of a product – rather than advertising the chemical composition of its spray and boasting its safety, it gives its audience a sense of safety.

The outcome – According to research, the target audience (mothers) were seeing Lysol’s claims regarding its efficacy as “too much”. It was therefore Lysol’s goal to change its brand image to be more appealing.

Lysol successfully improved its brand image and increased product usage by 5%.

Nike – Believe in something

One of the most controversial marketing stunts to date is Nike’s “Believe in something”.

Nike’s decision to side with athletes kneeling during the NFL to protest American police brutality was met with general outrage. And by outrage, we mean outrage.

People set their Nike shoes on fire.

But, while some were disgusted by Nike’s decision, those who weren’t sided instead with Nike – and bought even more products.

Why does it exist? – Nike has a long history of supporting the underdog in sports events. Controversies date back to the 1990s when the company talked about an HIV-positive runner in the middle of the HIV crisis.

Why does it work? – Nike took a political stance and chose to side with African American men brutalised by US police. Colin Kaepernick’s action was seen as disrespectful towards the US flag and consequently, Nike’s decision to support the man’s action was also seen as such.

The advertisement serves as a political statement, but also as an emotional marketing campaign – in a single sentence, they tapped into the injustice the African American population is facing while also attacking US patriots’ national pride. 

The outcome – The ad was extremely successful. The outlet sold well over $6 billion in merchandise and soared 5% in the stock market in barely a week.

Wrapping up

Emotional marketing is a very good tool, but you need to use it well.

Furthermore, you want to make sure that you are acknowledging the anger, sadness or frustration you are feeding into your audience.

Calculating the results of an emotional marketing piece can be difficult since they are extremely likely to go viral – however, with the help of a performance marketing agency such as topflight, you’ll be able to successfully drive more sales and increase your brand awareness.

Contact us today to get started.

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