Emotion Sells: Unveiling Jollibee’s Heartfelt Marketing Approach

Dominic Banguis
10 min readJul 27, 2023

Discover the power of emotional storytelling in marketing. Learn how brands like Jollibee craft compelling narratives that resonate with audiences, fostering brand loyalty and driving growth.

In this world where everyone’s all hyped up about AI and automation, there’s this buzzing question — can these tech marvels totally kick traditional marketing to the curb? Sure, AI’s got some mad skills — crunching numbers like a pro, hitting targets with precision, and blending into campaigns as if it were born to do it. But, you know what it can’t do? It can’t replace that human touch, that emotional punch we pack into marketing.

Take Jollibee, for instance. It ain’t just your average fast-food joint. They’ve got a knack for spinning a tale that gets you right in the feels, creating this solid connection with their customers that’s like pure gold for their sales. What’s their secret sauce? Emotion. It’s as simple, and as powerful, as that. Because when it comes to making a sale, nothing beats a good old tug at the heartstrings.

The Philippines’ fast-food giant has become a household name not only in its home country but has also made significant inroads globally. Its success can be attributed to many factors, but one element stands out: its usage of emotional storytelling on YouTube to foster brand loyalty.

Drawing inspiration from legendary figures like Donald Miller of StoryBrand, Steve Jobs, and David Ogilvy, we are going to deconstruct Jollibee’s strategy and understand why it works so effectively.

1. Storytelling: More Than Just Selling Food

David Ogilvy, known as the father of advertising, once said, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.” Ogilvy reminded marketers not to underestimate the consumer’s intelligence and engage them with thoughtful, emotion-stirring content. Following this principle, Jollibee has not simply marketed food but shared relatable, human stories, turning their brand into an integral part of their customers’ lives.

In the words of Steve Jobs, “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” Jobs believed in the ability of stories to shape our reality and instill values. For Jollibee, these stories play an essential role in aligning their brand values with those of their customers, fostering a deeper, emotional connection.

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The “Choice” Valentine Series (2019) effectively depicts this. This story doesn’t focus on the food but on a woman’s struggle to choose between two men, reflecting the tough decisions we often face in life.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. What are the core values that your brand stands for, and how can they be transformed into engaging narratives?

2. How does your brand’s story align with your customers’ life experiences?

3. Are you merely selling a product, or are you offering a deeper value that integrates with your customers’ lives?

2. Emotional Branding: A Staple of Jollibee’s Strategy

Jollibee’s YouTube campaign utilizes this concept of emotional branding. Each video tells a story that resonates with their audience’s daily lives — stories of love, loss, family, and overcoming challenges. It’s a manifestation of the principle established by Donald Miller, founder of StoryBrand: “If you confuse, you’ll lose. Noise is the enemy and creating a clear message is the best way to grow your business.”

Jollibee’s narratives are clear, concise, and powerfully relatable. Their videos never confuse the audience; instead, they portray emotions and situations that the average viewer understands, experiences, and identifies with. Consequently, they tap into a fundamental human desire for connection and understanding, enabling viewers to relate to the brand on a deeply personal level.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. What kind of emotional responses does your brand currently evoke in its consumers?

2. Are your brand’s stories clear, concise, and relatable to your target audience?

3. How does your brand foster deeper emotional connections with your customers?

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The video “Date” from Jollibee’s Valentine Series (2017) offers a heart-touching narrative about a son continuing his deceased mother’s Valentine’s Day tradition, generating strong emotions of love and loss.

3. How Emotional Storytelling Enhances Brand Loyalty

The emotional journey the brand takes its consumers on is not merely for entertainment; it fosters brand loyalty, one of the holy grails of consumer behaviour.

This emotional bond with the brand leads to a form of loyalty far stronger than any price discount or loyalty program could achieve. When consumers form emotional attachments, they don’t just like the brand — they love it. This emotion-driven loyalty proves to be longer-lasting and more resistant to change, ensuring sustainable customer relationships.

Watch this:

The video “Vow” from Jollibee’s Valentine Series (2017) portrays a man’s unrequited love, an emotional journey that left many viewers in tears and further strengthened their emotional attachment to Jollibee.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. Does your brand have a strong emotional connection with your customers that fosters brand loyalty?

2. What emotions does your brand’s story evoke in its audience?

3. How can you further strengthen the emotional bonds between your brand and your customers?

“Effective emotional storytelling isn’t about merely weaving a narrative; it’s about narrating a story that resonates with your audience’s hearts and minds, creating a brand that’s not just a product, but a companion in their life’s journey.”

4. A Deliberate Alignment with Consumer Psychology

Jollibee’s success in emotional storytelling aligns with established psychological principles. The phenomenon of emotional contagion, where people tend to “catch” the feelings of those around them, plays a significant role. When viewers watch Jollibee’s heartwarming or tear-jerking stories, they feel what the characters feel, creating a powerful emotional experience associated with the brand.

Moreover, psychologists argue that emotions significantly influence our decision-making processes. As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio explains, even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion. By integrating emotion into their branding, Jollibee can influence customer decisions and encourage them to choose their products.

Watch this:

The “Proposal” video from the Valentine Series (2019) excellently displays emotional contagion, showing a couple’s joy and excitement as they get engaged.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. How are you taking consumer psychology into account in your marketing strategies?

2. What emotions do you want to evoke in your customers to influence their decision-making processes?

3. Are you effectively tapping into the principle of emotional contagion in your marketing campaigns?

5. Impact on Brand Perception

When a company tells a story that resonates emotionally, it no longer exists solely as a corporate entity, but as a part of the consumer’s personal narrative. The stories that Jollibee tells make it more than a fast-food chain; they position it as a companion through the highs and lows of life.

This approach elevates Jollibee’s brand perception from a food provider to a life partner, transforming them into a brand with whom consumers can imagine sharing significant moments. This change in perception fosters a strong emotional bond that helps create loyal customers.

Watch this:

The “Graduation” Jollibee Mini-Series (2018) video depicts Jollibee as a companion during significant life milestones, showing a father and daughter celebrating her graduation at a Jollibee restaurant.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. How does your brand storytelling affect your customers’ perceptions of your brand?

2. Are you positioning your brand as a life partner to your consumers through your stories?

3. How are you transforming your brand’s identity through your narratives?

6. The Power of Social Media and Video Content

In the digital age, social media platforms have become crucial to brand promotion and customer engagement. YouTube, with its video-based content, is especially influential.

The popularity of video content lies in its ability to be engaging, memorable, and vastly shareable. When a customer watches a Jollibee video, they don’t merely view a story — they experience it. The combination of visuals, sound, and narrative allows for a multi-dimensional, immersive experience. Moreover, videos are highly shareable on social media platforms, ensuring that the stories Jollibee tells reach a wider audience.

Through leveraging YouTube, Jollibee employs an effective medium to disseminate their emotive narratives, allowing them to connect with a global audience and build a worldwide community around their brand.

Watch this:

The viral “Kwentong Jollibee Valentine Series offers a mix of love, sacrifice, and friendship. It became a trending topic on social media and gained millions of views on YouTube.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. How are you utilizing social media platforms, especially video content, to engage your audience?

2. Does your video content provide an immersive, multi-dimensional experience for your viewers?

3. How are you leveraging the shareability of video content to reach a wider audience?

7. Emotional Advertising and Memory

Another aspect of why Jollibee’s emotional storytelling strategy works so well has to do with how our memory functions. Studies suggest that emotionally intense experiences are more likely to be remembered than neutral ones. This is because emotional stimuli activate our amygdala, a brain region instrumental in-memory processing.

In the context of advertising, viewers are more likely to remember and recall brands that evoke strong emotions. By generating emotive narratives, Jollibee ensures that its brand stays in the hearts and minds of its customers, making them more likely to return.

Watch this:

The “Mother’s Day Special: Amor” (2020) video provides a powerful narrative about an overseas Filipino worker mother’s sacrifices for her family, leaving an unforgettable emotional imprint on viewers.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. Are your advertising campaigns generating emotionally intense experiences that are likely to be remembered?

2. How are you integrating emotional stimuli in your advertisements to activate the amygdala and enhance memory retention?

3. Do your brand’s narratives evoke strong emotions that ensure your brand stays in the hearts and minds of your customers?

8. The Role of Cultural Relevance

Jollibee’s emotional storytelling is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It tailors its narratives to reflect the cultural contexts of its various audiences. By representing the experiences and values of its customers, Jollibee exhibits cultural sensitivity and relevance, which further strengthens customer affinity and loyalty towards the brand.

This alignment of brand stories with cultural contexts is particularly crucial in an era of globalization, where local relevance is key to establishing a global presence. Jollibee’s ability to balance universal human emotions with culturally specific narratives ensures its relevance and appeal to a diverse, international audience.

Watch this:

The “OFW” Christmas Series (2017) video resonates deeply with Filipinos, portraying the experience of an overseas Filipino worker coming home for Christmas after years of working abroad.

Some questions to ask yourself:

1. How are you tailoring your brand’s narratives to reflect the cultural contexts of your various audiences?

2. Are you representing the experiences and values of your customers in your brand’s stories?

3. How are you balancing universal human emotions with culturally specific narratives to appeal to a diverse audience?

9. Emotion Sells

Jollibee’s approach to emotional storytelling on YouTube presents a new paradigm in marketing — one that prioritizes human connection over transactional relationships. It emphasizes the role of empathy in business, illustrating that understanding and connecting with consumers on an emotional level is key to establishing brand loyalty.

As we look ahead, this approach sets the stage for a future where successful marketing strategies will not only sell products but also enrich the human experience. After all, brands that can touch people’s hearts are the ones that will stand the test of time.

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Some questions to ask yourself:

1. How are you using emotion and storytelling to create unforgettable experiences for your customers?

2. Are you aligning your brand with your customers’ personal narratives to establish a place in their hearts?

3. How are you integrating consumer psychology, clear messaging, and emotional branding in your marketing strategies?

Key Takeaways for Startup Founders and Entrepreneurs:

1. Understand Your Audience: Deeply understanding your target audience is critical. From their demographics to psychographics, knowing their aspirations, fears, lifestyle, and behaviors will help you create stories that resonate with them.

2. Leverage Emotional Triggers: Tap into emotional triggers that resonate with your target audience. This could range from love, unity, hope, to nostalgia and perseverance, based on what aligns with your brand.

3. Create a Compelling Brand Story: Craft a compelling brand narrative that ties your brand to the needs and desires of your audience. Your brand’s story should highlight your purpose and how it impacts customers’ lives.

4. Deliver on Your Brand Promise: Your brand promise should not just focus on the tangible benefits you provide but also the emotional benefits. Always strive to deliver on this promise.

5. Personify Your Brand: Develop a strong brand personality that aligns with your target audience’s expectations. Your brand’s personality traits should be clearly reflected in every interaction with your audience.

6. Optimize Your Content Strategy: Focus on creating emotionally charged content that deeply connects with your audience. Your content strategy should align with your overall brand story and appeal to your audience’s emotional triggers.

7. Engage Your Audience: Be proactive in engaging with your audience. Encourage social sharing of your stories and initiate discussions related to your campaigns.

8. Measure and Analyze Your Success: Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your storytelling campaigns. Monitor sentiment, brand image, and the impact on sales to understand the effectiveness of your emotional storytelling.

By understanding and applying these key takeaways, startups can create emotional storytelling campaigns that foster deep connections with their audience, build strong brand loyalty, and drive growth.

Closing

In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This sentiment underpins Jollibee’s YouTube strategy, where emotion and storytelling are used to create unforgettable experiences.

By aligning their brand with their customers’ personal narratives, they have established a place in their hearts and built a loyal consumer base. The integration of consumer psychology, clear messaging, and emotional branding positions Jollibee not only as a successful fast-food chain but also as a master of consumer-focused marketing.

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Dominic Banguis

Scaling Startups with Data-Driven Marketing Strategies | Web3, AI, Crypto, Blockchain, SaaS, and FinTech