Effectiveness of Sustainability-Related Advertisements


  • Tajda Kukovič University of Ljubljana


In an era where environmental consciousness is increasingly shaping consumer behaviour, the effectiveness of sustainability-related advertising has emerged as an important area of marketing research. Sustainable advertisements aim to promote eco-friendly products, services, and practices that benefit society and the planet [1]. This study delves into the efficacy of such advertising by employing a comprehensive approach that merges psychological methods with traditional advertising research techniques. The core of our investigation was comparing emotional and rational appeals within sustainability-related advertisements. Emotional appeals are designed to evoke strong feelings and forge deep connections, while rational appeals present logical arguments and factual information to persuade consumers [2, 3]. Our primary research question was how emotional and rational sustainability advertisements influence consumer behaviour.

The methodology comprises a combination of traditional approaches, including questionnaires, and physiological measurements including electrocardiogram (ECG), skin conductance response (SCR), and facial expression analysis. Participants were exposed to two videos—one emotional and one rational—related to sustainability while their physiological responses were monitored using the BIOPAC MP160 data acquisition and analysis system. For facial expressions analysis, Noldus FaceReader software was used. Data collection involved 17 participants, mainly students from the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana.

Preliminary findings suggest notable differences in physiological and emotional responses between emotional and rational sustainability advertisements. From partial results, we concluded that emotional ads evoke stronger physiological responses and more pronounced facial expressions, decreased heart rate indicating a calming effect and higher skin conductance compared to rational ads, indicating greater physiological arousal and emotional engagement. Rational ads show higher arousal in facial expressions but less physiological arousal and increased heart rate, indicating cognitive engagement. 

One limitation of this research lies in its relatively small sample size, which may compromise the statistical power and generalizability of the findings. With only 17 participants primarily from a single faculty, the variability in responses across different demographic groups may not be adequately captured. Additionally, the use of self-reported questionnaires alongside physiological measurements may introduce biases in participant responses. 

Despite its limitations, this study contributes to the understanding of sustainability-related advertising effectiveness by elucidating the differential impact of emotional versus rational appeals on consumer responses.


[1] Sander, F., Föhl, U., Walter, N. et al. Green or social? An analysis of environmental and social sustainability advertising and its impact on brand personality, credibility and attitude. J Brand Manag 28, 429–445 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41262-021-00236-8

[2] V. Venkatraman, A. Dimoka, P. A. Pavlou, K. Vo, W. Hampton, B. Bollinger, H. E. Hershfield, M. Ishihara, and R. S. Winer, "Predicting Advertising Success beyond Traditional Measures: New Insights from Neurophysiological Methods and Market Response Modeling," Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 436-452, 2015. Available: https://doi.org/10.1509/jmr.13.0593.

[3] Bellman, S., Nenycz-Thiel, M., Kennedy, R., Larguinat, L., McColl, B., & Varan, D. (2017). What makes a television commercial sell? Using biometrics to identify successful ads: Demonstrating neuromeasures' potential on 100 Mars brand ads with single-source data. Journal of Advertising Research, 57(1), 23-33. https://doi.org/10.2501/JAR-2016-051