Advertising appeals are communication strategies that marketing and advertising professionals use to grab attention and persuade people to buy or act. In rhetorical theory, the idea of an “appeal” dates back to Aristotle, who identified the three main appeals of communication (also known as the rhetorical triangle): ethos, pathos, and logos, or, in modern language, credibility, emotion, and logic. The idea was that, if you can establish yourself as credible (ethos), for example, you are more likely to persuade people. Likewise, if you tugged on your audience’s heartstrings (hit their emotions, pathos) or presented a logical argument (logos), you could persuade people to act. In other words, you (or your communication) appealed to people because you were credible, you affected their emotions, or you made logical sense.

Marketing and advertising gurus have been using appeals for as long as marketing and advertising have been a thing. Consider celebrity endorsements, which are prime examples of applying ethos, or the credibility/endorsement appeal. If you see an image with Jennifer Aniston holding a bottle of Smart Water, you are being appealed to by Aniston’s credibility (or, at the very least, her notoriety). If it’s good enough for her, the advertisers hope you’ll think and feel, then it’s good enough for the consumer who respects and adores her.

But modern-day advertisers didn’t stop at just the three appeals, as Aristotle did. While credibility, emotion, and logic in many ways do summarize the three broad ways in which people are persuaded, advertisers get much more specific in order to target their marketing communications approaches. Understanding the available appeals in marketing and advertising will put you in a position to be more creative, more persuasive, and ultimately more effective in your marketing and business communications.


While there are more than twenty that exist, and it’s possible you could even coin your own, the list below addresses twenty of the most common advertising appeals used by marketing professionals today, listed alphabetically.

  1. Adventure Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s sense of adventure and excitement. The goal of the adventure appeal is to make people feel like the excitement, action, entertainment, and sense of adventure will be enhanced if they purchase or use a product or service. Read more about Adventure Appeal.



  2. Bandwagon Appeal

    Appealing to people by making them feel like everyone else is doing it. The goal of the bandwagon appeal is to make people feel like since everyone else is doing something, they should to. It’s a persuasion-by-numbers tactic. Read more about Bandwagon Appeal.



  3. Brand Appeal

    Appealing to people who are brand-conscious and have certain proclivities towards brands. The goal of the brand appeal is to make people buy a product because the brand itself is a statement that the person hopes to associate with. Read more about Brand Appeal.



  4. Endorsement Appeal

    Appealing to people by using a celebrity they admire and recognize. The goal of the endoresment appeal is to encourage people to buy a product or service or act a certain way because people they know, respect, admire, and recognize also use that product or service. Trust is built by using recognizable people. Read more about Endorsement Appeal.



  5. Fear Appeal

    Related to the Personal Appeal (below), the fear appeal specifically appeals to a person’s fears in order to encourage them to buy or act. The goal of the feal appeal is to cause someone to fear an outcome or response if they don’t buy a product or act in such a way as to reduce risk. Read more about the Fear Appeal.



  6. Humor Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s sense of humor. Because most human beings like to laugh, humor is an effective appeal for grabbing attention and helping people remember and share information about a product or idea. The goal with humor is to help build a positive association with a product, service, or idea. Read more about the Humor Appeal.



  7. Less-than-Perfect Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s natural tendency to think they are less-than-perfect and that they need something to improve themselves. The goal of the less-than-perfect appeal is to make people feel as though they need a product or service to enhance their personal selves and that, without it, they will always be less than perfect. Read more about the Less-than-Perfect Appeal.



  8. Masculine/Feminine Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s desire to be the perfect man or woman. Often used in clothing and beauty products, the goal of the masculine/feminine appeal is to make people feel if they use a product or service, then they are more attractive, sexier, stronger, or any other characteristic commonly associated with their gender or sex. Read more about the Masculine/Feminine Appeal



  9. Music Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s tastes in sounds and music. The goal of the music appeal to help increase recall (as in jingles or mnemonics) and to encourage people to feel an emotion toward a product that they feel while hearing a particular song or sound. Read more about the Music Appeal.



  10. Personal (Emotional) Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s emotions. The goal of the personal appeal is to make a consumer feel sad, angry, excited, jealous, fearful, proud, nostalgic, or any other emotion enough to encourage them to buy, donate, or act. Read more about the Personal Appeal.



  11. Plain Appeal

    Appealing to people by making something seem ordinary or plain. The goal of the plain appeal is to persuade people that a product, service, or idea may not be as strange or radical or extraordinary as people thing, but rather that it is normal and common. Read more about the Plain Appeal.



  12. Play On Words

    Appealing to people through creative word choice and figures of speech. The goal of the play on words appeal is to help people remember a product or service or to be intrigued (sometimes through humor) by the phrasing of something. Read more about the Play-on-Words Appeal.



  13. Rational Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s logic and evaluative reasoning. The goal of the rational appeal is to make people feel like they need something because it makes sense and seems necessary. Read more about the Rational Appeal.



  14. Romance Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s natural desire to experience romance and appeal to others romantically. The goal of the romantic appeal is to make people feel like they will be more attractive, more desirable, and more likely to get the person of their dreams if they use a certain product or take certain actions. Read more about the Romance Appeal.



  15. Scarcity Appeal

    Appealing to people by making them feel that something will run out soon or is about to end. The goal of the scarcity appeal to make people feel that they need to hurry or they will be left out. Everyone else is doing it and you may lose your chance. Read more about the Scarcity Appeal.



  16. Sex Appeal

    Appealing to the natural sexual desires of men and women. The goal of the sex appeal is to grab and increase attention toward a product or service by making people feel attracted to or desirous of the people using the product. Read more about the Sex Appeal.



  17. Snob Appeal

    Appealing to people by making them feel like they will experience luxury, elegance, or superior quality. The goal of the snob appeal is to make people feel like their purchases or actions will put them in a position to experience the highest of qualities and luxuries. Read more about the Snob Appeal.



  18. Social Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s sense of belonging or feeling of inclusion. The goal of the social appeal is to cause people to make purchases and take action based on whether it will make them feel accepted, recgonized, respected, affiliated with, or even rejected by a certain group, organization, or people. It’s all about status and fitting in. Read more about the Social Appeal.



  19. Statistics Appeal

    Appealing to people’s obsession of and trust in numbers. The goal of the statistics appeal is to use numbers and data to persuade people that what you have to say or what your product does is accurate, and research-based. Read more about the Statistics Appeal.



  20. Youth Appeal

    Appealing to a person’s desire to feel younger. The goal of the youth appeal is to make people who may otherwise feel old, out of shape, and less physically able than they were as youth to buy a product or service that will help rejuvenate their physical and emotional selves. Read more about the Youth Appeal.