How TV Ads Influence Viewer Mood and Behaviour

Dec 22, 2023 / Industry Insights / FOTW


Have you ever caught yourself humming a jingle from a TV advert or felt a sudden urge to buy something after watching a commercial? That’s the power of TV advertising, a masterful blend of creativity and psychological advertising tactics designed to captivate your attention and shape your purchasing decisions. Television, with its wide reach and vivid storytelling capabilities, has long been a staple in the advertising world. But how exactly do these ads work their magic on your mood and behaviour?

The evolution of these ads is a fascinating journey – from simplistic, straightforward pitches to complex narratives that tug at your heartstrings. Advertisers learned to craft messages that resonate on a deeper, emotional level, making them more memorable and effective.

In this article, you’ll uncover the subtle yet powerful techniques behind TV advertising. We’ll explore how these ads are designed to influence your emotions and behaviours, often in ways you might not even realise. From the science that underpins these strategies to real-life examples that left a lasting impact, prepare to see TV ads in a whole new light.


The Science Behind the Screen

It’s quite evident that the fusion of psychology and marketing has revolutionised how brands communicate with their audience. This blend of disciplines hasn’t happened overnight. In fact, the marriage of psychology and advertising has roots dating back to ancient times, evolving from simple market cries to sophisticated digital campaigns. 

However, the core psychological principles guiding these strategies have remained fundamentally unchanged, aiming to create a deep and lasting impact on consumer behaviour. Let’s take a look at these principles in a bit more detail.


Psychological Response to TV Ads

The success of a TV advertisement often hinges on its ability to emotionally resonate with viewers. This emotional connection is not just about creating a fleeting response but about forging a lasting memory. 

Brands strive to create ads that are not only noticed but remembered, tapping into our subconscious, which plays a crucial role in shaping our purchasing decisions. Ads that strike an emotional chord with consumers are incredibly effective because they make people think of a good time whenever they see the advertised brand or product in context, whether it is at the grocery store or a car dealership.

The way we interact with TV ads is heavily influenced by our capacity for empathy. When an ad successfully triggers empathetic feelings, it enhances the viewer’s connection to the product or service being advertised. This empathetic connection makes the message more relatable and impactful, increasing the likelihood of the viewer remembering and acting upon the ad.


Neurological Reactions to Visuals and Sounds

The use of brain imaging in advertising research offers fascinating insights into how our brains react to advertisements. These studies reveal that certain visual and auditory stimuli in TV ads can trigger specific neurological responses. These responses are often subconscious, influencing our emotions and decision-making processes without us being fully aware of it.

Visual and auditory stimuli in TV ads are carefully crafted to evoke emotional responses. TV advertisers aim to target the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, focusing on creative approaches that encourage a response. The choice of colours, imagery, music, and even the tone of voice in ads are all designed to resonate on an emotional level. This resonance is vital for creating memorable ads that not only capture attention but also leave a lasting impression on the viewer’s mind.

A study by Neuro-Insight identified several neurological factors that contribute to effective TV advertising. When it comes to memory encoding, ads that focus on cold, hard facts and scientific data do poorly compared to those that incorporate the product into a story with real people, emotion, and humour. For branding to be effective, it must be central to the ad’s plot. Interspersing branding cues throughout the narrative increases memory encoding.


Techniques Used by TV Advertisers to Tug on Your Emotions

The intersection of psychology and advertising is not just about understanding consumer behaviour but crafting messages that resonate on a deeply emotional level. By tapping into our psyche, advertisers create compelling narratives that influence our perceptions and, ultimately, our purchasing decisions.

Let’s take a look at how some of the core aspects of TV advertising play with our emotions.


Music and Sound Effects

The auditory elements in TV ads play a critical role in shaping our emotional response. Music and sound effects can evoke a range of emotions, from joy and excitement to nostalgia and empathy. The right soundtrack can make an advertisement memorable and impactful, creating a strong association with the brand or product being advertised.



A well-told story can capture our attention and draw us into the world of the ad. Narrative structures in advertisements often mirror those in films or literature, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. This structure helps to build a connection with the audience, making the message of the ad more persuasive and memorable.

On top of that, characters in TV ads often embody traits or face situations that viewers can relate to. By presenting relatable characters and scenarios, advertisers create a sense of empathy in viewers, making the brand or product more appealing. This technique is particularly effective in creating a lasting emotional bond between the viewer and the brand.


Visual Cues and Colour Psychology

Visuals in TV advertising, from the imagery to the cinematography, play a significant role in setting the mood and tone of the ad. Aesthetically pleasing visuals can elicit positive emotions, making the advertisement more engaging and effective.

It might be news to read that colours have a psychological impact on us, and so their use in advertising is often deliberate and strategic. Different colours can evoke different emotions and associations, influencing viewers’ perceptions and reactions to the ad. Understanding colour psychology allows advertisers to use colour effectively to convey their message and evoke the desired emotional response.


Great Examples of Mood-Driven TV Advertisements

So, we’ve explored the science behind the screen and the techniques advertisers use to influence emotions. Now, let’s examine some exemplary mood-driven TV ads that masterfully utilise these techniques.


Humour: Metro Trains Melbourne

When it comes to humour, few ads do it better than the “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign by Metro Trains Melbourne. Launched in 2012, this campaign features a catchy song and a series of animated characters meeting their end in comically tragic ways. 

While the ad is light-hearted and humorous, it effectively communicates a serious message about safety around trains. The clever use of humour here doesn’t undermine the importance of the message but rather enhances its memorability.


Tugging on Your Heartstrings: Explore

In Explore’s first-ever TV advert, we see a mother preparing to send her daughter off on her trip. As they say their goodbyes and go over all the exciting things that are going to happen on the trip, product messages land, reiterating the variety of activities, and then the story is cleverly turned around.

Unexpectedly, the ad unveils that the mother is actually setting off on the once-in-a-lifetime adventure, while the daughter merely waves her off! Underpinning the inclusivity of all age ranges, this lighthearted and humorous approach showcases the variety of Explore’s offerings.


Evoking Nostalgia: Google

Google’s “Home Alone” commercial from 2018, featuring Macaulay Culkin, is a brilliant example of using nostalgia to advertise their Google Assistant product. By recreating scenes from the iconic movie “Home Alone,” the ad connects with audiences who grew up watching the film. 

This sense of nostalgia is not only a nod to the past but also effectively showcases the capabilities of Google Assistant in a fun and familiar context.


Final Thoughts

Through this exploration into the mesmerising world of TV advertising, we’ve shared insights into the potent blend of psychology and creativity that shapes viewer mood and behaviour. From the historical evolution of TV advertising to the scientific underpinnings behind the screen, each element plays a crucial role in crafting effective commercials. You’ve seen how music, storytelling, and visual cues are meticulously woven to stir emotions, from humour and empathy to nostalgia, leaving an indelible mark on the audience.

If you’re keen to ensure that your next advertising campaign harnesses these powerful techniques and connects deeply with your target audience, our creative production team are more than adept at creating campaigns that not only capture attention but also engage and drive a response to act.

Reach out to us today to make your brand’s message not just seen, but truly felt.


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Author - Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith is the Co-Founder and Creative Director at Fall Off The Wall, a forward-thinking TV advertising & creative production agency in the UK. Jamie Smith is an experienced Creative Director with a demonstrated history of working in the DRTV marketing and advertising industry.