What We Learnt From BMW™ & Bad Moods

Seems like a bizarre question.

If you answered “Yes”, then this blog is irrelevant.

If you answered “No”, you might want to know why we are even discussing this.

Recently, we have been speaking to a lot of business owners about how they are going to drive traffic to their website.

For most people, visibility is their hardest challenge.

“If only I could get in front of my target audience”

It’s true.

Getting found, introduced or referred is essential.

But is it only part of the battle.

A study by Georgios A. Bakamitsos, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, and George J. Siomkos, Athens University of Economics and Business, explored the relationship between:

i) The ease of understanding marketing messages, and

ii) The context these messages were presented in.

They separated the study across two variables:

  1. Messaging, and
  2. Mood


They presented participants with two different BMW™ video advertisements.

The first advertisement was easy for participants to understand and process.

The second advertisement contained more abstract and ambiguous messaging.


People in the study reported whether they felt happy, neutral or sad.

Bakamitsos & Siomkos wanted to assess the role their participants’ emotional state played in judging adverts and brands.

Clear + Concise > Ambiguity + Anger

The study found that if brands had ambiguous or unclear messaging, then the participants associated that brand with their current mood.

This is horrifying.

This means if a prospect has just had an argument, poured a coffee over themselves (happens to me far too often) or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, they can channel all of that anger to you!

BUT If the brand had simple and concise messaging, then mood had far less of an impact.

Thank goodness.

The results of this experiment demonstrate that adverts need to be simple and clear.

Unless you want your audience’s emotions to play a significant role in how they feel about your company.

You know your messaging isn’t clear

Maybe you aren’t investing in TV adverts. Maybe you are.

For most businesses, their website or LinkedIn profile is their shop window.

Are these as clear as they need to be?

Is it easy for your customers or clients to know how you can help them, who you are and why you do what you do? 

You’re willing to risk it

Maybe you know your audience so well and you know that they are always in a good mood (If so, really?)

In this case, you might reap the benefits of having ambiguous messaging. 

You are somewhere in the middle

Maybe you aren’t completely satisfied with your website and LinkedIn.

But you don’t have time to optimize them both just yet.

If so, you have to understand timing.

We can’t predict one-off events that might agitate a prospect.

We can assess trends and patterns for when people are most open to new messages and ideas.

That’s a blog for another day.