You are subjected to advertising every single day, from when you read the paper in the morning to when you wind down in front of the TV at night. You see it when you’re driving and you hear it on the radio. It’s everywhere and you’re exposed to it as much as possible, so it’s bound to have an influence on you.
It costs a lot of money to run an ad where many people will see it, so there is pressure from companies to make each one as profitable as possible, which means getting you to spend money. This means that advertisements must be cleverly designed, they have to play into your psychology and build your trust enough to drive you towards a purchase. There are many methods of going about this and advertisers are always coming up with new ways to get inside your head. In order to be a responsible consumer who doesn’t waste money on frivolous expenses, you should acquaint yourself with some of the tools of the trade that advertisers use to empty your wallet so you can see through their pitches.
The endorsement of a product is only as effective as its source. If a representative of a company tells you how great their product is your natural reaction is skepticism because it is clear that there is an ulterior motive. However, if a relatable customer gives an endorsement, you are more likely to trust them because most testimonials give the illusion that they are speaking their minds and giving an honest account of the product. An expert in the field or a celebrity can also be used in a testimonial to build trust because the viewer will have a positive mental reaction to a familiar face. In reality, no one gets in front of a camera and gives a shining review of a product for an advertisement without some sort of compensation, so their word is just as unreliable as an obvious representative of the company’s. Even when you see the ‘Not a Paid Actor’ subtext, you should still be wary because there are other ways of making it worth their while to give a testimonial.
Sex and Beauty
Sex is one of the most powerful motivators known to man, so advertisers love to tie it in with their products in any way possible. Actors and models for advertisements and commercials are almost always very physically attractive with ideal bodies and features, when you see people like this using a product you are likely to relate the use of that product with good looks and sexual appeal. Beauty products often have their models in very sexual shots, poses, and situations because one of the main reasons people use those products is to increase their sex appeal, but it isn’t limited to the world of personals and hygiene. Every industry from food to web hosting takes advantage of your sex drive to get you interested in their product- just remember that anyone can hire a model.
Fears and Insecurities
We are beginning to see a pattern of advertising copy trying to latch on to powerful human emotions to evoke a mental response, so why not use the immense persuasive power of fear? Everyone has fears and insecurities that they do everything within their power to alleviate, so if a product claims to solve this problem for you then you are very likely to check it out. A fitness product for men will tell them that their body isn’t good enough for most women, commercials for security systems give you frightening statistics about how likely it is that your home is invaded, an antivirus software advertisement will tell you that your computer is bound to get infected and lose all of your data. Legitimate concerns turn into paranoia and trifle insecurities are amped up to make the audience take action. Just keep in mind that if you weren’t worried about something before an advertisement, you shouldn’t be worried about it after one.
What are some of the techniques you’ve seen in advertisements that make them so effective at convincing us to spend money?