Movies that Move – Help Your Film Appeal to Emotion

No matter the topic of your film, the ultimate goal is to create something that people want to watch. Our first instinct as authorities on our topic, or as sharers of an experience, is to make our case with volume: more information, more data, more content. That strategy is part of what is called rational appeal – the desire to use logic, evidence, or information to engage a viewer. On the other side of the rational is the emotional – the desire to appeal to the subconscious mind and its role in decisions (including the decisions to enjoy, buy, or remember). Our team is more than happy to help you take your emotional appeal and help it play out onscreen, but let’s first explore why this strategy works, a few ways to do it, and what employing this strategy will do for you.Movies that Move – Help Your Film Appeal to Emotion

Why Do Emotional Appeals Work?

Think about this for a moment: The Advertising Education Foundation reports that the average person sees 3,000 ads per day. When you seek to put your business out there, you’ll be competing with the messages of 2,999 other ones that feel equally important to their respective sponsors. Even if your video is more personal, sharing the details of a special occasion or family event, consider how many other personal appeals it will share space with via social media and other routine web surfing.

The decision-making process of what to give our attention to takes up a great deal of space in our rational minds. Appeals to emotion, however, bypass that clutter to target our subconscious mind. Creating a product or chronicling an event in a way that can target the subconscious brain, the part that runs without us having to give it intentional attention, gives you a fast track to the viewer’s heart and can start to inspire action or response.

5 Emotions to Appeal To


In a world filled with written pieces making claims to “fix,” “change,” “save,” or provide some other assistance that could prove to be false, content that demonstrates trust will appeal to viewers. Sharing “behind the scenes” shots of a product you make or an event you’re detailing demonstrates an innate trustworthiness and transparency that can overwhelm skepticism and foster a feeling of closeness. And, when we’re close, we buy into the premise provided. As you craft the concept for your movie, ask yourself: How do I know when I’m trusted? And how can the film reflect that?


Closely related to the construct of trust, a demonstration of value can make a decision easier for a viewer or consumer. A great example of this is price-matching; companies that recognize their customers’ wishes to save money show an understanding of convenience and relationship-building. The perceived connection captures hearts, and this could do the same for you. As you continue to think about what story you want your film to tell, ask yourself: What do we do that provides value? And how will this film demonstrate that?


As childish as it may seem (“everyone else has one!”), the feeling of acceptance and safety that comes with belonging is a powerful one – and cinematic experiences that evoke that feeling make a difference to viewers. Event films that make people feel like they were there, rather than that they were missing out, can capitalize on this feeling. When it seems that someone has gone out of their way to make you feel included, you respond favorably. So, as you brainstorm what your film will look like, ask: How can I bring the viewer into this experience? And what will that look like on camera?


No one ever likes to feel as though their time was wasted. No matter the length or topic of your film, it should feel as though it was worth the viewer’s investment of time; this incorporates elements of our earlier appeal method – value. So, even if it takes a considerable amount of time to tell your story, seek to do so with urgency – are there stakes? Can it feel fast-paced and dynamic? What will the reward be for the time spent? Ask yourself each of these questions as you map how your film concept will play out on screen.


In many ways, this concept is contrary to belonging – there exists a class of people who like to feel as though they’re ahead of the curve. Should your event or customer base fall into this category, ensure that you’re conceiving a film that can reinforce that desire. Appeal to this value by highlighting new features or drawing connections to iconoclastic individuals. For this strategy to work, however, you’ll need to know that it’s important to your audience. So, consider as you weigh using this approach: Does this matter to my target audience? And, if it does, how can I build this into my film?

For more details on these strategies, as well as several others your film could employ, check out this piece by Susan Gunelius about emotional triggers in marketing.

The Payoff

Emotional appeals on film work. Just ask anyone who has seen the recently-turned viral Extra gum commercial how they felt afterward. The film has been played repeatedly by many -- including us, here at Trove -- because it tugged on our heartstrings, and we just don’t want to let it go.

With every repeat view comes another opportunity to associate your company with its values, or cement your relationship with your viewer, positively and thoughtfully. These appeals can make evangelists out of casual fans and create an army of informal marketers. We’re not saying every film we make will go viral, but we can help give your films some of the same qualities that inspire shares accompanied with heartfelt recommendations.

The team at Trove truly can’t wait to help you tell the story that will endear you to your future fans. Get in touch to let us know how we can create your emotional and engaging appeal