June 04, 2018
John Mulder

Advertising Empathy: The Human-Centered Approach

Empathy exists when you see the world through someone else’s eyes – and see a situation from their point of view. It gives you an understanding that you did not have before, allowing you to identify with that person and their situation. By using empathy in your marketing, you are increasing the odds of consumer engagement.

When the Dove marketing team uncovered that only 2% of women considered themselves beautiful, they launched their ‘Real Beauty’ and ‘Evolution’ campaigns. They started using real women to advertise more than their products. They advertised how their products make you feel. The entire movement that Dove created was rooted in empathy. There are real emotions that run through women when they see advertisements showcasing ideals that they themselves can never attain. Women have real self-esteem and confidence issues that Dove started to talk about and use in their strategy. These campaigns went over extremely well with the public because women felt that someone understood their struggles and appreciated being represented through ‘Real Beauty.’

Many campaigns are not quite as emotionally charged as Dove’s, but still are still wonderful displays of empathy. Simply understanding your customer’s wants and needs is empathetic. J. Crew publishes a blog that includes tips for dressing and how to dress for your job. They are not only supplying the clothing to people, but also giving them suggestions and help for wearing them to their fullest potential.


When done right, and when it comes from the right place, human-centered marketing and empathy fueled campaigns will not only connect with your audience, they will make you memorable.

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