Using Mood Marketing to Appeal to Consumers with Bob Hutchins


In this presentation, Bob explains how to use mood marketing in the post pandemic world. Bob shares the new moods of marketing, authenticity and transparency, and how they are used to appeal to consumers by being empathetic because there is more to human beings than encouraging them to buy.


Bob Hutchins is Vice President of digital marketing at 5by5, a full service strategic digital and marketing agency located in Nashville and Dallas. Bob has worked in digital marketing for more than 17 years and has published three books.  


“If you will think about the mood and specifically transparency and authenticity, what you’ll get is a much more engaged, trusting consumer. So mood marketing is not just a fad, or a buzzword, but it’s a functional, necessary response to the shifting sea of complex feelings and emotions that consumers that we’re all navigating today.” 

“You’ll do well as marketers to really understand that [mood as 3D communication] and you’ll gain an edge in your communication and marketing, especially if you’re marketing to a younger demographic on the digital platforms.” 

Key Points

  1. How to market in a world where awareness of people’s emotional state and their moods are continuing to expand and grow
  2. There is a mood ability of visual content and it’s increasing at an unprecedented rate
  3. The importance of marketing to almost any age group because it translates to authenticity and transparency


In an era of first party data, are you marketing to mood? Why is mood marketing overlooked when it shouldn’t be?

So, who am I? And why am I qualified to talk about this? That’s a great question.

My name is Bob Hutchins. I started and ran a digital agency for 17 years called Buzz Plant here in Nashville, Tennessee. I started in the early 2000s. So, I guess you could call me a digital marketing OG.

Couple of the highlights of my career over time is that I architected, and I executed the online and mobile marketing strategy for Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ movie, which is still the highest grossing R rated movie of all time, I believe it may have crossed $1 billion.

I did the same thing for Disney’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. That’s a chronicle of a Narnia book. At the time, it was their highest grossing non animated film.

I’ve written three books on marketing and digital engagement. I’ve been interviewed numerous times and my blogs have been syndicated for national news outlets on topics of tech of faith-based marketing of digital marketing. I’ve been seen on MSNBC, Fox News, The New York Times Inc Magazine cetera. I hold a master’s degree in behavioral and organizational psychology from London Met University and I’m currently the VP of Digital at 5by5 agency here in Nashville, Tennessee.

So, what I want to talk to you about today is incorporating mood in your marketing as consumers grapple with the tragic events of the last couple of years. Many are embarking on journeys to understand their emotions in more sensitive means. In 2020, Google searches for why obviously why preceded by whatever the search they were looking for, hit unprecedented numbers. In 2021 those top searches switched over to how and so the results of these trends were very clear in 2021 and now into 2022 therapists saw an unprecedented number of patients, hospitalizations for self-harm and suicide are up 50%. And the self-care industry was estimated to be at 10 billion and growing now, well above that in 2022. What’s my point? My point is the awareness of people’s emotional state, their moods, the things that we’re all dealing with, are continuing to expand and grow.

I just did a TEDx talk about a month ago on the subject of ambiguous loss that we’re all going through together. So, with this shift in perspective has come a surge in research conducted on emotional regulation, both by psychologists and marketers alike. So as consumers attempt to express these complex feelings through nonverbal moods, their own communicative shorthand moods have become an increasingly relevant topic of discussion. So, when it comes to monitoring and engaging at the level of mood with consumers, I’ve outlined in my talk four things that marketers need to be aware of whether they’re doing this on the digital platforms or they’re doing it directly to consumers in utilizing first party data, emails, social media connections, text messaging, etc.

So, the first thing is consumers are constantly shifting into multiple states at once and feel increasingly comfortable doing so. So, what I mean by this is that what we’re seeing, and studies are showing that amongst Gen Z and even millennials, they’re more likely to identify with strong, simultaneously occurring emotions, that they would be normally singular, but having, they’re more feeling this on a multiple more feelings at one time. So having said this, it’s really really important to deliver marketing messages at those specific moments of overlap, as opposed to moments of change. For example, a consumer could be simultaneously feeling angry or depressed at the same time, and that would therefore make them more receptive to marketing that pulled from all three instead of just two of these types of emotions.

The second thing I would say is there is a mood ability of visual content and it’s increasing at an unprecedented rate. So, in 2021, the use of moody visuals images with emphasis on light and color, and texture as a shareable content format reached an all-time high. Consumers are now expected to understand the mood of a product, not just the words or the content or the benefits, but consumers are expecting to understand the mood of your product or brand through its visual representation. So, marketers who can pinpoint those moments in which their imagery is most relevant and resonant with that will become invaluable to their audiences.

So, for instance, here’s a Coca-Cola brand. And here’s an ad so they’ve got the coke cans with the blocks underneath where it appears though in the ad that people have written in their own moods and feelings. So, Coke brand- I promised to smile more for you that’s written to Julie from Felipe. You’re right, it’s time to move. It’s time for me to take more breaks. And then I’m not the best at compliments, but I’ll try that it seems to be written into Fred with hugs and kisses from Mum. Great, great example of the mood ability and the ability to communicate multiple moods at one time and for the consumer to understand what the brand is trying to do visually represent in that so again, great job of mood ability.

The next thing I would say number three, is that consumers are beginning to use mood as a form of three-dimensional communication with higher association between the words used and the actual list of emotions that they represent. So, this development in communication mirrors Gen Z’s tendency toward nonverbal communication, i.e., communicating via likes, or emoticons on social media, and then even in real life. Using internet terms and short terms to communicate things. So rather than talking on the phone, it’s a world of communicating mood and feelings through these three dimensional and two-dimensional items. So being aware of this development brands will gain an edge if they use mood as a form of three-dimensional communication themselves.

So, for example, here’s Donald Duck and he’s being used in the context of mood and people say this is my mood right now. Or Beyonce at the awards was a mood. So, they’re using mood as a form of three-dimensional communication, and not just an adjective, but actually an actual way of describing the actual list of emotions and what they represent. So again, you have someone tweeting out this cartoon image is a mood right now. So hopefully that makes sense. And you’ll do well as marketers to really understand that and you’ll gain an edge in your communication and marketing, especially if you’re marketing to a younger demographic on the digital platforms.

And number four, this is really, really important actually, it’s important marketing to almost any age group, and that’s authenticity and transparency. They’re the new moods of marketing. So, marketers can best appeal to consumers by showing empathy for their emotional state. And by doing so, they’ll create more authentic relationships with them. Do you see because consumers expect brands to be transparent and open about how they feel.

So, for instance, here’s an ad by Dove. And what you have here is two words that seem to be historically ones that are opposite and don’t mean they shouldn’t go together. So, for instance, you have photographs of women at all ages and stages and sizes and looks in their life, but they represent a more accurate, authentic, transparent way of communicating because they’re more in line with how the everyday woman might feel about themselves. So, taking those things and actually saying, gray, gorgeous. You don’t have to choose an either or they actually can be both weathered, wonderful, fat fit, you can be fat, you can be fit, flawed. Flawless. These are things that are authentic, they’re transparent, they’re real.

And this is a new mood that people are expecting from brands and so you can appeal to your customers by being empathetic or by being empathetic that not all women feel like a supermodel and photoshopped and perfect all the time. This is authenticity. And it’s transparency in marketing and branding and in communication. So, when you’re creating digital ads, and it doesn’t matter what part of the funnel you’re in, whether it’s the top of the funnel or the middle of the funnel, the bottom of the funnel, if you will think about the mood and specifically transparency and authenticity, what you’ll get is a much more engaged, trusting consumer. So, mood marketing is not just a fad, or a buzzword, but it’s a functional, necessary response to the shifting sea of complex feelings and emotions that consumers that we’re all navigating today. You see the last three years. Lots and lots of happens and you have to respect those emotional states in your marketing as well. So, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Is there going to be another wave of the pandemic of COVID.

What’s going to happen with my work life balance, am I going to go back to the office? I’m not going to migrate now away from the city that I’ve been in for years and go move somewhere else.

All of these things’ people are trying to navigate we’re all mourning collectively the way things used to be and now trying to adapt to the way things are now. How are you reflecting that in your marketing and your communication?

So now is the time for brands to follow suit by responding to the emotional plurality of their audiences rather than relying on singular emotional expressions, they can build lasting connections with their target market.

So, mood marketing is set to become an increasingly relevant topic in the coming years with more brands recognizing how emotional plurality has complicated the consumer engagement with their product and their brand. So, I believe that marketers who really study this and understand it and appeal to it from a trust and empathetic standpoint gain, they will gain the trust of their customers.

I hope that was helpful. If you’d like to reach out to me, and you have more questions that maybe I haven’t asked or you want to connect with me, feel free to reach out to me I’m on Instagram at BW Hutchins, Twitter, Bob Hutchins, LinkedIn, you can just search my name Bob Hutchins, and of course, my email is Thanks so much for this opportunity.

And I hope that you have learned a little bit about mood marketing and that you’ll use it in your marketing, in your digital marketing in the funnels that you build out. And as you test and as you verify with these things, keeping in mind, there’s more to human beings than just understanding the benefits and the values and encouraging them to buy. Try empathy, try multiple emotions at one time and try tying into mood marketing.

Thank you so much. Talk to you soon.