Use Positive Ads to Be Remembered

Emphasize positive aspects about your brand when you want the message to stick.

Nick Kolenda
Updated on
Seatbelt ad with person buckling seatbelt

Negative ads might grab attention, but positive ads will be remembered:

...positive advertisements were more memorable. We suggest that this seeming contradiction can be explained not by the amount of attention allocated to the advertisements but rather by the levels of arousal experienced by participants during exposure (Bolls, Lang, & Potter, 2001, p. 647)

Consider two political ads:

  • Negative. Highlights flaws of their opponent.
  • Positive. Highlights accomplishments of the candidate.

The negative ad should perform better if the candidate is struggling to get attention, but the positive ad should perform if the candidate already has sufficient attention. The positive ad will stick more.

  • Bolls, P. D., Lang, A., & Potter, R. F. (2001). The effects of message valence and listener arousal on attention, memory, and facial muscular responses to radio advertisements. Communication research, 28(5), 627-651.