1. SEJ
  2.  ⋅ 
  3. Digital Advertising

39 Emotions Digital Marketers Can Use In Advertising

Discover 39 emotions with insights from The DAIVID Field Guide To EMOTIONS In Advertising, along with best examples from YouTube.

In a previous article, How To Make A Video Go Viral, I mentioned research that shows videos that evoked the emotion of hilarity, inspiration, astonishment, and exhilaration tended to be shared the most. People shared videos that elicited “high-arousal” or intense emotions twice as much as ones that elicited “low-arousal” or moderate emotions.”

For the past few months, I’ve been searching for a new way to categorize emotions and I stumbled across a post on LinkedIn that said, “Here it is! The DAIVID Field Guide to Emotions in Advertising with each of the DAIVID 39 emotions.”

The LinkedIn post said,

“As every good creative knows, make people feel something and it will have an effect on brand and sales.”

So, I downloaded their field guide and read all 56 pages in one sitting – like a whodunit. It even opens with a killer quotation by Jonathan Haidt,

“The rational mind thinks it’s the Oval Office when actually it’s the press office.”

The field guide draws from research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford University; and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia.

The field guide categorizes 39 emotions into 6 “emotional cohorts”  and acknowledges,

“Emotions in advertising are nothing new. Intuitively, gifted storytellers have taken us through lows and highs to make us feel good and well disposed towards brands through the years.”

It explains, “What we have lacked up to this point though, is a clear codification. Whether something is ’emotional’ or not has often been decided subjectively and with the poor emotional lexicon that we humans have.”

And it concludes, “That’s why we have the DAIVID 39, which gives us a common language to communicate this through the advertising process and brief with feeling.”

So, here is the all-important language that digital marketers can use to define and, therefore, replicate advertising success through emotion.

39 Emotions Digital Marketer’s Can Use In Advertising


According to the DAIVID Field Guide to Emotions in Advertising, there are 11 emotions in the Empathy cohort that digital marketers can put on their palette when creating a campaign:

  • Admiration: A feeling of profound respect or approval.
  • Calmness: To be free from agitation, excitement, or disturbance.
  • Empathetic pain: A specific variant of empathy that involves recognizing and understanding another person’s pain.
  • Gratitude: an expression of grateful thanks and appreciation for benefits received.
  • Hope: An audacious desire accompanied by the expectation of, or belief in, fulfilling it.
  • Pride: Complex with definitions such as self-esteem and satisfaction in oneself, pleasure that comes from an association, relationship, or achievement, or a feeling of solidarity.
  • Relief: The removal or alleviation of something oppressive, painful, or distressing.
  • Sadness: An expression of grief or unhappiness.
  • Satisfaction: The fulfillment of a strongly desired need or want.
  • Trust: The extent to which a person or thing is accurate, honest, safe, and dependable.
  • Warmth: The quality or state of being warm in feeling.

The field guide includes a link to a video, “seen in the wild,” for each emotion. And that will certainly help if digital marketers are unclear about the definition of an emotion.

But I looked for videos that I’d seen, which I could use to illustrate the creative effectiveness of “Empathy.” And I didn’t need binoculars.

In Google Analytics 4 Should Trigger Reorganizations & Agency Reviews, near the end of the article, I said digital marketers could use YouTube’s Director Mix to create customized videos at scale, swapping out different elements to tailor content to specific audiences.

As an example, I mentioned that Mondelēz India had designed its Not Just a Cadbury Ad Campaign Video employing YouTube Pin Code Targeting, YouTube Director’s Mix, and Google Maps API.

This enabled the brand to produce thousands of customized AI-generated ads for 270 pin codes across 8 cities. This hyper-localized campaign helped 1,800 local retailers grab business during Diwali in a global pandemic.

The campaign delivered incredible business results, including doubling the sales for the retailers featured in the ads and over 32% more business growth than they’d forecast.

What I didn’t mention back then was the name of Mondelēz International’s strategy: “Empathy at scale.”

So, “Empathy” made people feel something, which influenced branding and sales.


According to the field guide, there are 11 emotions in the Approach cohort:

  • Adoration: A state of deep love and respect.
  • Aesthetic appreciation: The enjoyment of something because of its beauty or some other factor associated with aesthetic preference.
  • Amusement: Something pleasantly entertaining or diverting.
  • Entrancement: The feeling of being carried away with delight, wonder, or rapture.
  • Craving: An intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.
  • Inspiration: The state or power of moving the intellect or emotions.
  • Interest: A feeling that accompanies special attention to a person or thing. It engages attention and stimulates further observation.
  • Joy: To experience intense pleasure or delight evoked by well-being, good fortune, or by the prospect of owning what one desires.
  • Knowledge: The condition of knowing something gained through experience.
  • Nostalgia: A sentimental longing or wistful affection for some past period or irrecoverable condition.
  • Romance: A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.

Yes, there’s a link to a video, “seen in the wild,” for each of these emotions.

However, I didn’t need a spotting scope to find examples of different approaches that have generated measurable outcomes. Let me highlight a recent one.

In 10 YouTube Marketing Strategies & Tips (With Examples), I included an example of inspiring video content of the UAE’s tourist experiences, cultural events, and enjoyable adventures.

It was created for the second season of the World’s Coolest Winter campaign and entitled A Winter Through My Eyes.

The short documentary film asks, “Can a country be truly enjoyed by someone who cannot see?” It tells the story of Clara, an 11-year-old Lebanese girl who has been visually impaired since birth.

Now, this award-winning video got 8.9 million views, which is remarkable – because the World’s Coolest Winter is primarily a domestic tourism campaign, and the UAE has a population of about 10 million, which is equivalent to the population of Michigan.

But it’s worth noting that the campaign helped to:

  • Increase hotel revenues in the UAE to AED1.5 billion, a 50% upsurge over the previous year.
  • Boost the number of domestic tourists to 1.3 million, a 36% jump over the campaign’s first season.
  • Raise hotel occupancy rates to 73% in 2022, a 7% gain over 66% in 2021.

So, this “Approach” not only made people feel something, but it also influenced branding and sales.

Positive Adrenaline

According to the field guide, there are four emotions in the Positive Adrenaline cohort:

  • Awe: Variously combines dread, veneration, and wonder that authority, the sacred, or sublime inspires.
  • Excitement: A feeling of great enthusiasm, eagerness, or thrill.
  • Sexual Desire: A physical attraction and desire for physical intimacy.
  • Surprise: The response to an unexpected or astonishing event.

I haven’t written about the following case study before, but I’ve used it in the class I teach on “Engaging Audiences Through Content” at the New Media Academy in Dubai. It consists of two videos.

The first is entitled, See you at Dubai Expo | Emirates and now has 5.3 million views and 87,800 engagements.

The second video is entitled We did it again | Emirates. This video takes a behind-the-scenes look at how Emirates took its A380 for a spin around the Burj Khalifa for the making of its new advertisement.

This video now has 13.9 million views and 211,000 engagements.

So, these videos made people feel something. But did they also influence branding and sales?

Well, Expo Dubai, the first event of its size and scale held since the start of the global pandemic, recorded over 24 million visits and was hailed as a tremendous success.

A couple of months after its videos went viral, Emirates Group announced that revenue increased by 86% over the previous year, with strong customer demand as worldwide travel restrictions eased.

Correlation or causation? You be the judge.

Negative Adrenaline, Primal Urges, And Rejection

Now, you may not want to put the last 13 emotions on your palette when creating a campaign, but you should be able to identify them if you see them in the wild:

  • Fear: An unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.
  • Horror: A painful and intense dread, fear, or repugnance.
  • Anger: A strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.
  • Awkwardness: A feeling of discomfort or being out of place in response to a situation.
  • Disgust: A strong feeling of dislike aroused by something highly distasteful.
  • Embarrassment: A feeling of shame, self-consciousness, or awkwardness.
  • Guilt: A feeling of deserving blame for offenses committed by yourself or others.
  • Shame: An uncomfortable feeling of guilt because of your own or someone else’s immoral behavior.
  • Anxiety: An apprehensive uneasiness over an impending or anticipated harm.
  • Boredom: Being weary and restless through lack of interest.
  • Confusion: Uncertainty about what is happening, intended, or required.
  • Contempt: Despising someone or something.
  • Distrust: To doubt the honesty or reliability of a person or thing.

Yes, I know that Halloween has just been held again, and some people enjoy watching horror movies.

But you should think twice before using any of the negative emotions in these last three emotional cohorts.

Why? There are three key reasons:

  • The field guide says, “Generally, it’s advisable for … brands to leave us with a positive emotion.”
  • According to a recent article in Think with Google, 7 in 10 people say they try to be optimistic despite the latest political, ecological, and economic news.
  • As Yoda says, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

So, there you have it: A digital marketer’s palette of 39 emotions to use – or avoid using – in advertising.

Disclaimer: All statistics not linked are from a gated Tubular Labs report.

More resources: 

Featured Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

VIP CONTRIBUTOR Greg Jarboe President and co-founder at SEO-PR

Greg Jarboe is president of SEO-PR, which he co-founded with Jamie O’Donnell in 2003. Their digital marketing agency has won ...

39 Emotions Digital Marketers Can Use In Advertising

Subscribe To Our Newsletter.

Conquer your day with daily search marketing news.