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TD creates an ATM with a twist – and goes for the heartstrings

Screenshot from a TD Bank ad campaign on YouTube.

Consumers are suckers for any story that tugs at the heartstrings.

How else to explain the mammoth popularity of WestJet Airlines Ltd.'s marketing campaign last Christmas, which spun a bit of holiday magic by surprising fliers with gifts from Santa? The airline netted over 36-million views on YouTube, and plenty of goodwill toward the brand in the process.

Now, Toronto-Dominion Bank is taking a page from WestJet's playbook. Last Thursday, it launched a video showing how it thanked loyal customers with surprise gifts delivered through an ATM machine: tickets to Disneyland for a hard-working mother, a meeting with Jose Bautista for a Jays fan, and a flight to Trinidad for a woman to visit her sick daughter.

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The video has racked up more than 2.5-million views in less than a week.

The Internet is awash with this kind of emotional marketing right now – and for a good reason. Consumers' attention is arguably more divided than ever. Online, they gravitate to things that matter to them, such as messages from friends and family or truly entertaining videos, slideshows and articles. And they are less loyal to brands than they used to be.

In a bid to win some of that attention, advertisers are trying to mimic the popularity of the uplifting, feel-good content on sites such as Upworthy, or at least make content entertaining enough that some people might be willing to sit through it.

Going the emotional route can be a good bet: Research has shown that emotional campaigns can actually lead to more profitability for brands in the long run, as consumers remember things that touched them personally much more than they remember rational messages.

That is partly why TD has jumped on the bandwagon. Less than a week in, it's certainly getting people's attention.

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