Empathy: The Key Ingredient in Advertising

Check out Jordan's thoughts on empathy and how she believes it's the key ingredient to advertising! We are convinced!

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From a consumer’s perspective, the historical core and objective of advertising have been rooted in deception, trickery, and the opportunity for salesmen to make a buck. Advertising exaggerates the benefits of a product or service to present it as more appealing and desirable to the public. If you have worked in this industry or have partnered with an agency like us for your organization, you know that there is a lot more to advertising. In fact, there is a bigger picture. You cannot have advertising without empathy, a value that the world has been lacking for as long as we can remember. As a result of this, it has polarized humanity and that is why empathy is the key ingredient in advertising.  

Webster defines empathy as the “action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” Empathy is at the core of the human experience, it brings people together. And if you are doing advertising right, it’ll be at the center of your campaign.  

Empathy is applying the time and effort towards putting yourself into others’ shoes to understand their pain points, their needs, what makes them tick, etc. Conducting this research and fieldwork leads advertisers to the development of their campaign strategies, so they can effectively frame their messaging and intent in a way that resonates with their audience. Advertising insights are rooted in a deep understanding of people in this regard. We don’t want to waste people’s time with the media that they consume, but rather make it more meaningful and even pose a solution or two for their lifestyle. 

A prime example of this can be seen through forms of primary research, such as focus groups. You’ve seen one before. A facilitator asks a room of strangers a series of questions surrounding a product or idea. The facilitator inquires about their perceptions, whether they find it useful, how it could be more helpful, etc., to gather insights that will hopefully lead to a solution. Empathy in advertising allows us to understand the challenges that people face in their everyday life, so we can solve problems and tell stories. 

If you aren’t familiar with the coined 6 Habits of Empathetic People, they are as follows:

  1. These people are curious about strangers
  2. They challenge prejudices and try to uncover commonalities
  3. Try another person’s life
  4. They are good listeners and observers
  5. They inspire action and social change
  6. And they are imaginative

A good advertiser embodies some or all of these traits. At the end of the day, our motive is to create a sense of community among people. So the next time you see an advertisement, just know that a lot more went into it than you might suspect!

These are my thoughts on how empathy can be the key ingredient to advertising. I hope you enjoyed it and would love to hear your thoughts! Comment below and let’s get the conversation started. 


– Written by Jordan Glover, Grova Creative


Grova Creative is a minority and veteran-owned agency headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, and works with clients all across the United States. If you are a business or organization seeking help with advertising, marketing, branding, messaging, marketing, strategy, website development, or other creative assets, email Grova Creative at [email protected] or visit grova.com.

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