On Chris Evans’ radio show, they were discussing politicians.

His co-host, Rachel, said she liked a certain one but she didn’t know if he’d be any good.

Chris Evans asked her what she meant.

She said she just felt the politician was a nice guy: it was just an emotional response.

Chris Evans said “Stop right there, an emotion isn’t the same as a feeling.”

My ears perked up because everyone in advertising keeps saying an ‘emotional response’ is more important than a rational appeal.

Rachel asked Chris what the difference was between a feeling and an emotion.

Chris said a feeling was something that started in your gut.

A thought was something that started in your brain.

An emotion was a combination of a feeling and a thought.

You might have a nice warm feeling , and you might have the thought that it happens when the family is together, and that thought and that feeling combine into the emotion – love.

This is interesting as another way to access Kahneman’s System 1 and System 2 thinking.

System 1 is the fast, reactive part of the mind, it feels without thinking.

System 2 is the slower, rational part of the mind, it thinks without feeling.

Also similar to the original left-brain (rational), right-brain (feeling) model that first publicised the split in the mind.

In advertising, we’ve always known it was a two stage process: 1) desire, 2) permission.

First you have to desire something (feeling), then you need permission to buy it (reason).

We used to see this in car ads: the left-hand page would be a beauty shot of the car, usually wide-angle taken from low down at dawn or dusk.

The right-hand page would be full of facts about the car’s technical superiority: 6 cylinders, fuel injection, overhead cams, four-wheel-drive, abs braking, etc.

The beautiful photograph was there to make you want the car (desire), the information was there to say it was a sensible choice (permission).

With other products, lines like: ‘Because I’m worth it’ are the permission that follows desire.

So, as Chris Evans said, feeling joins with thought and creates an emotion.

The interesting part is this definition of emotion explains what’s wrong with advertising.

We’ve never seen emotion as the combination of thought and feeling, we’ve only ever seen emotion as the feeling itself.

Consequently, emotion is presented as the opposite of thought, as a simple binary choice: reason or emotion.

Because of the belief that emotion is all important, if we have to choose between the two we have to ditch reason and choose emotion.

Consequently, we’ve arrived at the point where advertising is all about feelings, in the belief that feelings are emotion.

So we believe we can depict emotion instead of evoking emotion.

Which means we show people dancing, because that looks like joy, and believe we’ve conveyed emotion, when all we’ve done is depicted feelings.

First we need to accept that emotions are not the same as feelings.

I can have a headache, that’s a feeling not an emotion.

I can feel cold or warm, pain or pleasure, those are feelings not emotions.

Trust, reliability, love, desire, anger, those are emotions.

Because they are feelings combined with thoughts.

If we put a feeling and a thought into our advertising, the consumer can put those together and experience an emotion.

But the emotion is in the consumer as a result of that combination.

We have to provoke the feeling/thought combination, not just depict the feeling part.

It’s the difference between saying “I’m a comedian” versus actually making people laugh.