'What's Behind (beyond) a Smile in Ads?': Understanding Emotions with AI

November 9, 2023 imentiv

‘What's behind a smile?’ is a powerful video ad created by BetterUp that reveals how people often hide their true emotions behind a smile, even when they are struggling with challenges. It highlights the importance of positive emotion and the power of a smile. The ad features eight people from various backgrounds smiling and appearing happy in front of the camera.

The Art of Smiling: Is It Always Genuine?

A smile is a facial expression involving the upward movement of the mouth’s corners, typically associated with positive emotions such as happiness. However, not all smiles are genuine.

Genuine Smiles: The Science Behind the Real Deal

Paul Ekman's work reveals the science behind the genuine smile. The genuine smile is generated by the zygomatic major muscles, expressing uncontrolled, positive emotions.

False Smiles: When a Smile Masks Emotions

False smiles, on the other hand, aim to deceive others into thinking someone feels positive emotions, even when they don't. To spot these fake smiles, look for differences.


Back to Smiles

What is actually behind their smiles in this ad? It’s nothing but their concern over workplace challenges. Emotions and workplace challenges are often connected because they affect our behavior, decision-making, and overall well-being. The video ad presents a balance of emotions to the viewer by showing happy visuals and expressing the negative emotions in their mind through audio (and subtitles). This contrast presents a psychological analysis of the complexities of emotions.

Emotion AI: Analyzing Emotions in Advertising


Imentiv technology analyzes the ad content and identifies the emotion visible on the faces in the video. Since the video producer is looking to contrast the facial emotion with text, they can use this tool to verify the facial emotion being shown. Here is how it appears:



Psychologists might observe that the advertisement includes hidden messages aimed to be processed unconsciously by the viewers. These messages in the ads grab viewers' attention and make them think more deeply about the ad and its message.

In this case, the two different emotions in the ad are trying to stimulate the viewer's thought process and encourage analysis. Such advertisements effectively evoke a range of emotions in viewers and make them more relatable and influential.

Analyzing the Actors' Personalities in the Video

In this video, the actors exhibit key personality traits that significantly shape the emotional experience for both the content creators and the audience. The actors' personalities embody three crucial traits: agreeableness, extraversion, and openness.

Agreeableness, which emphasizes cooperation, empathy, and friendliness, permeates the video, fostering a sense of unity and positivity. This trait makes the content more relatable and enjoyable for the viewers.

Extraversion is another prominent personality trait exhibited by the actors. It infuses the video with energy and sociability, making it engaging and infectious. The actors' extraversion keeps the energy levels high, ensuring that the video remains enjoyable and captivating.

Openness is the third key personality trait. It adds depth and variety to the video's content, making it intellectually stimulating and creative. This trait sparks curiosity and a sense of novelty in the audience.

The synergy between these personality traits and the video's prevailing emotional tone of happiness creates a vibrant and joyful atmosphere. This resonates with the audience, evoking a similar sense of happiness and contentment. The actors' agreeableness makes them appear approachable and relatable, fostering a strong connection with viewers.

The actors' personalities not only influence the emotional quality of the video but also enhance its appeal to a broad range of viewers who are drawn to the positivity and sociability exhibited by the actors.

(From a psychological perspective, this video aligns with theories related to personality psychology, such as the Five-Factor Model (Big Five). The traits of agreeableness, extraversion, and openness are dimensions within this model, and the video effectively leverages these traits to create an engaging and emotionally resonant experience.)

The Psychology of Emotions in Advertising


What is the goal of a positive ad in marketing? In marketing, the goal of a positive ad is often to create a positive association with the brand and to leave a lasting impression on the viewer. In terms of psychology, this ad can effectively achieve its goal by conveying a sense of hope, optimism, or joy through positive visuals and music.

According to a Millward Brown report, when ‘Emotion-driven ads break through and sell’, where the sellers want the emotion of the viewers before they think to buy a product or not. When ads make people feel happy or excited, it makes them feel good about the product or brand. These emotions are catchy, meaning that when viewers see them in ads, they often feel the same way.

Ads that make people happy are also more memorable, so viewers are more likely to remember the ad and its message. This also makes viewers more likely to do what the ad suggests, like buying a product.

Another fact is that when an ad makes people feel positive emotions, viewers tend to trust the brand more because they think the brand cares about their happiness. Using positive emotions in ads can be a smart strategy for advertisers to engage viewers and build trust with their audience.

Emotional Contagion in Advertising

There's a video out there that poses a simple question: "Can you watch this without smiling?" It features numerous individuals looking directly into the camera, sharing genuine smiles. The result? It's almost impossible to watch the video without breaking into a smile yourself. It's at this point that emotional contagion comes into effect.

Watch the video:

Click here to get more insights on the emotions and psychology of this video.

Emotion AI technologies like Imentiv AI can help companies like BetterUp, by identifying that the ad is successfully conveying emotions, which could be a strong selling point for a company that provides support and guidance to people in the workplace.

This AI-powered video emotion recognition technology can enhance the effectiveness of ad campaigns. Imentiv AI doesn’t merely quantify and visualize emotions within a video; it extends to providing more emotional insights and personality detection. This approach can revolutionize advertising, ensuring that viewers experience an emotional connection, which in turn converts into a strong positive resonance with the ads.

In addition to video analysis, Imentiv AI offers image emotion recognition to analyze emotions from images. As it has been discussed the smiles witnessed in the videos are indeed a universal language that transcends borders and cultures, they convey a powerful message – that you're human. Smiles know no boundaries.

Here is a collection of smiling faces that we've analyzed using Imentiv AI’s image emotion recognition. Take a look at these smiles and check out the insights they reveal.






It's a fascinating journey into the emotions conveyed through these universally recognized expressions.

A smile is a tool that can work wonders in enhancing customer joy and making your brand more appealing. Every emotion, whether it's joy, excitement, or even empathy, is contagious, and has a certain contagious quality, often attributed to mirror neurons. When it comes to creating advertisements, it's essential to understand that emotions can resonate with your audience and create a lasting impression.

This dual nature of emotions reminds advertisers to be considerate when choosing which emotional tone to convey in their ads, as the emotions depicted can significantly impact the ad's effectiveness and audience engagement.

"Happiness is the highest form of health." - Dalai Lama






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