work-back Why marketeers should be taking a leaf out of Sir David Attenborough's book

Lydia Owen • 4 min read

It has been more than seven months since people across the globe started social distancing and self-isolating in a bid to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Since then, it’s become painfully clear just how vital a role interaction with our friends and families plays in our mental wellbeing. Human connections, physical touch and social interaction is a fundamental part of our existence.  

The pandemic-enforced lockdown highlighted that us humans are inherently social and emotional animals. As a species, we possess a complicated neural system which allows us to be easily influenced by our emotions — even when it comes to making logical decisions. Sensory processing involves the amygdala (which controls emotions), as well as the cerebrum (which controls cognitive thinking), and we now know that the emotional part of our brains makes quicker decisions. In fact, some studies have shown that emotion can help to facilitate learning and memory retention.

Where marketing is concerned, studies have found that emotional content performs nearly twice as well as fact-based content. Knowing that people are more likely to make decisions based on emotion rather than facts, marketers now use various media channels, platforms and devices to create meaningful relationships with their stakeholders, inspire them and influence their behaviour. This appropriately named style of ‘emotional marketing’ effectively taps into human emotions, helping brands to form a deep connection with their audiences.

When it comes to successful emotional marketing, we need look no further than the work of pioneering naturalist, Sir David Attenborough. The award-winning presenter has just broken yet another world record for gaining a million followers on Instagram since joining — achieved in just four hours and 44 minutes. And this is just one stage of his marketing campaign to promote his new movie, A Life On Our Planet, which aims to send a message to the world about what our planet will look like if we don’t take action to prevent its further destruction. Attenborough’s first video uploaded to Instagram has been viewed 17.9 million times*. How has he managed to achieve this and go viral? It’s not really an earth-shattering revelation — Sir David is passionate, genuine, authentic and human so people instinctively warm to him and want to hear what he has to say.

Sir David Attenborough doesn’t beat about the bush — he tells us exactly how it is. We believe it’s this directness that is what makes him so good at emotional marketing. We know that typically, more emotive content leads to more social shares, increased customer loyalty and improved customer experience. However, whilst humans have many different emotions, only four basic emotions have an impact when it comes to emotional marketing: happiness, sadness, fear and anger. What Sir Attenborough has done so successfully is ensure we feel all four of these emotions when he engages with us.

So what can we mere mortals take from this legend when it comes to planning our own marketing campaigns?

Making your brand stand out from the rest goes beyond selling your products and services. It’s also crucial to sell your vision, your values and your mission so that your audience can connect with you and feel emotions in a way that triggers learning and memory retention. And, just like Sir David, you can use your content to evoke emotion.

In his first Instagram video, Sir David starts by introducing himself in an authentic way. He shares his personal experience of communicating via radio, TV and now through social channels, building a rapport with us, before telling us the purpose of the video. Attenborough also creates a sense of urgency with a simple sentence: “The world is in trouble”. He then engages us by telling us that we can help — and how we can do this. Finally, he gives us his call to action to stay tuned for what’s to come.

A Life on Our Planet delivers powerful messages in a direct way — highlighting what the world will look like if we continue to destroy the planet, as well as explaining what we can do to stop this from happening. There are also moments during the movie which capture Sir David’s own personal emotional responses to this situation — all of which encourages us to connect with his content on a deeply emotional level. And this style of engagement works — data shows that, in the two weeks since the movie came out, #AttenboroughFilm, #ALifeonourplanet and #DavidAttenborough all trended on Twitter.

OSP has been helping companies develop emotional marketing campaigns since our launch in 1993, from the initial strategic planning, design and development of campaigns, to producing creative deliverables such as videos, direct mailers, ads, websites and exhibition booths. Our work has seen us develop countless insight-driven campaigns across all platforms — so we understand the value of empowering, educating and engaging audiences.

If you’re looking for support with your campaigns, we’d love to hear from you. Contact me via email or by phone on +44(0)1291 636300.

*17.9 million times on 19/10/2020