Yoshiro Okubo of Nippon Medical School is a brilliant Japanese neuroscientist whose research confirms that there are indeed sophisticated social emotions which are qualitatively different from the basic emotions found in animals. He was featured in The Economist recently, but you can read one original journal article here.
For example, guilt and embarrassment show heightened activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (and if memory serves, that's pretty close to where the Coca-cola brand is supposed to live). The characteristically human cortex is quite a different part of the brain from the amygdala and hindstem where the base emotion of fear operates, an emotion that Millward Brown use to validate their simplistic motivated-to-positive and motivated-away-from-negative model of human emotion.
And what of this beautiful study by Adam Anderson et al? Not only does he show that emotion enhances memory for neutral stimulus (emotional arousal being induced alongside first exposure to neutral stimulus), but his findings suggest that negative emotional arousal leaves a more powerful memory trace than positive. Perhaps taken in tandem with my finding that negative ads evoke greater emotion, perhaps the effect on memory is simply to do with degree of evoked arousal rather than valence?
Lovely stuff - the potential of sad-vertising is beginning to look irrefutable.
Can't wait for my next client meeting!