Despite new understanding of the importance of emotion in consumer decision-making, rational advertising largely remains the default industry approach. Its proven strengths are in driving consumer behaviour and sales short-term. However, long-term it is more effective in combination with emotional appeals, particularly in long purchase cycle categories.


Rational advertising is designed to transmit a message, using information, functional propositions and/or reasons why, to persuade consumers about the tangible benefits of using a brand’s product or service. It can include comparison to a competitor.

Key insights

1. Rational messaging makes an important contribution to brand profitability in the short-term

Analysis of the Australian Effies database, looking at whether previous findings of effectiveness experts Binet and Field in the UK also apply there, found that like in the UK emotional campaigns are more effective at building long-term market share growth. However, rational campaigns showed greater impact on the important objective of acquiring new customers by building product knowledge, prompting website visits or earned viewing of content. This reinforces previous learning uncovered by Binet and Field that rational campaigns are best at directly influencing consumer behaviour and activating sales short-term. They found information-rich media and direct response mechanisms are best in this respect, and that in general 40% of the budget should be invested in rational sales activation.