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The best persuasive advertising techniques

persuasive video advert

How many times have you seen a product advertised on TV or online for something you weren’t necessarily thinking of buying but you bought it anyway? It happens a lot! That advert effectively persuaded you to make a purchase. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if you were already contemplating it or not, the fact is you bought it, just as the clever marketing team behind the persuasive advert intended.

Persuasive advertising is nothing new, businesses and brands have been persuading consumers to think, feel and do for centuries. Even the most cynical of consumers can be persuaded because advertisers adopt an expert approach and carefully craft messages we can’t ignore or argue with. As a result, persuasive advertising is very powerful for brands wishing to target new audiences with TV or web adverts.

What is persuasive advertising?

Persuasive advertising is a type of product promotion that attempts to influence a consumer in favour of a purchasing particular good or service.”

Persuasive adverts communicate convincingly good arguments that persuade viewers to agree, think, say, feel or do. As per the above definition the desired action is usually to make a purchase.

The key persuasive advertising technique

The key technique or formula behind persuasive ads is to build a balanced argument or message using Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle. This psychology-based communication principle was created over 2,000 years ago and is still widely used today by major brands which indicates how effective it is as an advertising tool. As you may have already guessed the rhetorical triangle is made up of three parts, or three types of persuasive ad techniques:

Ethos: building credibility in your argument by utilising endorsements or testimonials from trustworthy people with a good reputation. If people have good ethos it’s more likely that we, the viewers, will respect them and be more willing to believe what they say.

Many brands feature celebrities, sports stars, industry experts (E.g. dentists) etc to make their advertisements more persuasive and believable. TV shopping ads regularly feature happy customers to endorse a product’s credentials.

Pathos: connecting with viewers by evoking an emotional response. Persuading with emotion enables people to identify with the person or subject making the argument. An advert can evoke any type of emotion such as fear, happiness, guilt, sadness, etc.

Many brands use pathos as part of their persuasive advert argument, especially humour as making people laugh is likely to build positive feelings towards their product(s). Charities commonly try to affect people with sadness or pity so that audiences will show their support and donate.

Logos: creating confidence with facts and statistics. Persuading with logic involves convincing your audience with a clear rationale and solid evidence. When an advert uses logos, viewers are given good reasons behind the argument and should be more likely to agree with it.

Many car, health, beauty and technology brands effectively use logos in their persuasive adverts to prove the benefits of their products. Persuasive product adverts using logos often state claims such as ‘proven to reduce wrinkles’ or ‘dust and water resistant’.

The best persuasive adverts do not use the above techniques in silos, they combine all three corners of the rhetorical triangle with varying weight or emphasis on each to create the most effective argument or message for their brand. 

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5 common persuasive advertising techniques

In addition to the rhetorical triangle psychology behind a great persuasive ad there are also 5 tactical techniques that are widely used by advertisers to persuade their viewers into action. However, advertisers do not use them all at once they select those which are most likely to help them write an effectively persuasive commercial.

1. The carrot and the stick

This technique is designed to evoke pleasure or fear in the audience. Advertisers present “carrots” or product benefits (E.g. save money or get shinier hair) to give viewers feelings of hope and get them to desire their brand. On the other hand, “sticks” evoke fear and instill people to stop doing a certain action or try an alternative, good examples of this are government anti-smoking campaigns or gum disease ads by dental brands.

2. The scarcity principle

Exclusive or limited-edition messages are very effective in advertisements, humans value objects and experiences that are rare. These messages evoke a sense of urgency and imply scarcity and are hard for viewers to resist for they fear missing out. It’s widely used in shopping TV style infomercials and sale messaging.

3. One message per advertisement

The key benefits of having only one key message in your persuasive commercials are that they are easy for consumers to digest and a powerful message will immediately hook viewers, making them more likely to watch your entire ad.

4. Write in the second person

Advertisers who use pronouns such as “you” and “your” effectively engage audiences on a personal level and directly state how they can help the viewer whilst simultaneously sparking their imagination alongside the narrative of the ad.

5. Use a Call-to-Value instead of a Call-To Action

Call-to-actions such as “click now” or “buy today” are widely used and as such are becoming uninspiring to audiences. Instead, advertisers can try a more creative approach in the final line of their persuasive ad on TV or online. For example, EE’s advert promoting the iphone 11 ends with Kevin Bacon stating “Unlimited data. Unrivalled network.”, instead of an unimaginative “get your iphone 11 with EE”.

Examples of great persuasive adverts for TV and web

Before we share how to make a persuasive tv or web commercial let’s take a closer look at three of the best from recent years and find further inspiration for your brand’s next ad.

1. L’Oréal Paris Revitalift – No compromise: Fight Wrinkles & the Sun

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift is the world’s number one skincare brand for anti-aging and they excel at persuasive commercials on TV and online. L’Oréal are famous for their celebrity brand ambassadors who share the tagline “I’m worth it”. Consumers love it and L’Oréal’s beauty products are insanely popular around the world because if it’s good enough for my favourite female celebrity it’s good enough for me.

In this Revitalift advert from 2016, we have the beautiful A-list celebrity Eva Longoria honestly and genuinely sharing her skincare concerns in a minimal, raw black and white setting. The viewer feels empathy towards Eva and agrees that they too have those concerns – wrinkles are such a pain. This is great use of the ethos and pathos techniques.

Then the knowledgeable male voiceover describes the effectiveness of the product whilst the camera cuts to the brand in full colour. We quickly move back to Eva who confirms “it works” and then we ‘re back in product focus for more indepth facts. The advert is now utilising ethos and logos techniques.

The ad repeats this cycle of persuasion a few times using all three elements in the rhetorical triangle. Before the viewer knows it, they’re Googling for more info and thinking to themselves: “It sounds great! Where can I buy it?”.

British Airways – Made by Britain

2019’s British Airways advert celebrated 100 years of our national airline and it takes on a nostalgic and proud to be British theme, utilising plenty of pathos psychology to make us feel sentimental warmth towards BA. Throughout the advert ethos content comes into play as we see many of our most loved British celebrities from David Bowie to Olivia Coleman. Each celebrity joins the narrative of what it means to be British whilst they board a BA flight and subtly endorse the brilliance of the brand. The overarching theme of the ad and final frame appeals to the viewers logic, surely an airline that’s been around 100 years must be a good choice for you next flight.

This persuasive British Airways TV advert uses all corners of the rhetorical triangle but with more weight towards the psychology of ethos and pathos. It’s an aspirational ad that makes you want to take a trip, let’s log on to and see which flights are available!

EE – Unbelievable iPhone 11 Pro with unlimited data

To capitalise on the launch of the iPhone 11 Pro EE have created a great persuasive advert featuring Kevin Bacon. For the pathos piece of the rhetorical triangle they are creating humour and delighting the audience with a funny yet intense dialogue between Kevin Bacon and a very relatable member of the public. Not only does Kevin Bacon make us laugh we can also emphasize with the conundrum of the viewer, should I get an iPhone 11 pro? Where should I get it from?

Each of these questions are answered with absolute certainty that EE is the best choice and that the product is unbelievable aka a must-have. The ad ends with an appealing logos statement “Unlimited data. Unrivalled network.” This well-balanced argument persuades viewers with the power of ethos (Kevin Bacon), pathos (humour) and logos (brand and product “facts”). Even if you weren’t that bothered about getting the latest iPhone you probably are considering it after watching this persuasive video.

Getting started with a persuasive advert for your brand

Creating a great persuasive advert should be done in collaboration with an experienced and talented video production company, however, exploring ideas early on will help you define a useful video advertising brief. Before you appoint a team of creative video experts, we recommend completing or at least drafting ideas for the following steps:

1. Define your brand voice

The first step in writing a persuasive ad is to ask: what does you brand stand for and how do you want it to be perceived? For example:

  • A food brand may be healthy, organic or sustainable so the advert will persuade around these topics. A not so healthy food brand is more likely to focus on moments of enjoyment.
  • Another brand, such as a chocolate bar, may want to be seen as fun or humorous. 
  • Whereas, a spirits brand could be more about exclusivity and being ‘cool’.

Once you’ve defined your brand voice and advert purpose you can start to consider how you can incorporate ethos, pathos and logos techniques.

2. Plot your story

Now that you have a clear purpose and tone of voice in mind for your persuasive ad you can begin to plot a loose story of your ad using a video storyboard. Creating a video storyboard is a vital stage in the planning process of any video, especially persuasive video. They are an effective tool for communicating your ideas and getting organized, start concepting ideas early and develop them into a great video storyboard

3. Collaborate with a creative video production company

Effective persuasive adverts for TV and the web are created between brands an experienced video production company. Appointing experts will ensure that the story within your ad is well though out and the final visual ad will look fantastic. Look for creative video experts with an impressive portfolio of tv and web commercials so you can be confident your brand and advertising campaign will be in expert hands.

Let’s make a standout persuasive advert together

Is your brand in need of a standout tv or web commercial to engage new audiences? Fresh Cut are a leading video production company helping brands tell their stories on TV and online since 2006. With studios in Leeds, Manchester and London we are proud to work with brands and budgets of all sizes. Take a look inside our fantastic portfolio of creative video content and get in touch with our talented team to discuss your next video project.