The Angry Consumer

martin-luther-king-anger-quote1The conventional wisdom about anger is that it’s bad for both mental well-being and physical health.  It’s something to be avoided, managed or suppressed.

Clearly, that’s not true in either war or sports.  Hatred of the opponent motivates willingness to work harder and take a higher level of risk than one would normally.  The huge difference is whether actions are hastily crafted or carefully designed.

The “revisionist” literature in psychology that talks about the need for anger to achieve a higher level of performance and success.   One writer describes 6 key benefits of anger:

  • Anger motivates
  • Angry people are optimistic  (really?)
  • Anger can help relationships  (clearing the air?)
  • Anger nurtures self-insight  (really??)
  • Anger can reduce violence  (or cause it)
  • Anger can be a negotiating strategy

These are things that can be true, but aren’t necessarily true.  They only work if anger is controlled and channeled.  If not, you have a loose torpedo, capable of sinking anything in reach.

We saw the power of anger in the recent election.  The fact that it worked in the recent election is being taken as proof that anger should be an emotional component in advertising.  Are we now going to see a stream of ads designed to stimulate anger?

What we don’t know is the other side — what happens when angry people are disappointed.  We may be about to find out.


  1. Blasevick, Denise, “Should your advertising anger your audience?” S3 Agency.
  2. Frenay, David, “The Importance of Emotions in Advertising,” EMOLYTICS, 11 July 2016.
  3. Matilda, Benita, “Anti-Smoking Ads Using Anger More Effective and Persuasive,” Science World Report, 30 April 2014.
  4. Oetting, Jami, “Emotional Advertising: How Brands Use Feelings to Get People to Buy,” Hubspot, 9 April 2016.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.