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What Evokes Emotion In Three Seconds? A Mental Exercise In Emotional Creativity

How can you evoke emotion from someone in just three seconds? It needs to be personal…

After having my eyes opened to the fact that the average billboard receives only three seconds of viewing time, it got me thinking, how can you evoke emotion from someone with only three seconds? 

Naturally, this came to mind while in my car where the most likely interactions to spur emotion arrive from other drivers. It was simple to find three second experiences that sparked my brain. Being cut off, those too close to the bumper of my car, those incapable of using a turn signal. All simple, little aggravations had the ability to tip the emotional scale in my head and imprint my surroundings into my mind. If I were to retell these experiences, I would most likely state where I was located when the occurrence happened.

After I had wracked up a solid list of a thousand things that could anger me within three seconds, I set off on attempting to create a list of experiences that would bring about positive feelings just as easily. Let’s cut to the chase, this is not simple.

In that case, how do you plan for a positive impression in three seconds? All of the examples I came across were deeply personal; a hearty laugh with a friend, a knowing glance, or a touch on the arm. What’s the best way to reach someone so deeply through a three second advertisement that gives the comfort of a hug from a loved one?

With so many factors that we concern ourselves with in regards to marketing and messaging, we need to keep the emotional value for our consumer audience in focus. After all, price is a fleeting thrill, two additional ounces won’t tell a good story, and not many advertisements go viral when they showcase the new shape of a product’s container.

While metrics and analytics remain at the heart of how we measure success, the delicate balance between the “art” and “science” of marketing is not lost in our methodologies. When honing a message, maybe it would be best if we took a few minutes to sit back and think about how the product and its message would make our consumers feel. It’s a great starting and sticking point.


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