Imagine your brain is like an ice cube. Floating in the unconscious for over 90% of the time, while for around 5-10% of your brain is aware of the world around you. When you make an effort, you are able to process information at around 64bit per second (around 10 words). Try calculating: 32 times 32. That is the conscious part. This is the part with which you do your thinking and comparing.
But your brain wants to be as efficient as possible, not using energy when it does not need to. That is where the unconscious part comes in. Try calculating: 2 times 2. Your brain generates an automated answer. This is the part with which you do all other stuff in order to survive. When you enter a room you automatically scan the situation for any potential danger. In a split second you know if all is well, or not. This part has a processing capacity of around 11 million bits per second.
Using emotion in advertising appeals to the unconscious part of your brain. Old, already known information is not of interest to the brain and the attention blocks it automatically. Emotion however, overrules this mechanism. You keep looking and the brand keeps building associatons. And because the brain functions particularly as a lens into the future, emotional advertising ‘automatically’ directs your future buying behaviour.
Unilever’s Axe Exite TV ad (2011) is a classic and beautifully crafted example of the use of emotion. Building upon the Axe mating game from years before it came to this crescendo, where even heaven is moved by it.