Hi everybody, this week we’re taking a look at the advertising world and the interaction between this world and the consumers. We watched the Frontline documentary “Persuaders” which is about an inside look into what goes on behind the scenes in the advertising world, in other words, how do advertising companies get people to buy their stuff, and why do we always come back for more? One of the main strategies of advertising is emotional branding. Naomi Klein, marketing expert, says that marketing experts create a “pseudo-spiritual” connection between the consumer and the product. Wait, what? That sounds crazy honestly, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that she is absolutely correct. But it gets even creepier. Douglas Atkin of Proctor, marketing expert, realized that some advertising is “evangelical” and decided to study cults to try to understand what exactly people were drawn to. Douglas felt that if he could understand the principle behind the cults he would be able to figure out what sucks people into advertising and keeps them coming back for more. He discovered that there were certain themes that enticed people, a “meaning system” where values, family, and community were the hooks to reel people in. Saturn is a prime example of this. It’s a company that embodies the old time values and community to the extreme, even going to far as to have family Saturn events where people come to the Saturn factories to meet fellow Saturn lovers and see how the cars are made. Again, very creepy, but it works so they’re definitely onto something for sure. Companies like Tide advertise their product as being “the heart of the family.” Again, the advertisers are attempting to get at consumers emotions in a way that will keep them coming back for more.
Kate Winslett for American Express
Advertising has also made its way into film, which promotes it and even makes the product characters in the films. Examples of this are the movie “I Am Sam” where Starbucks becomes a key character. Cast Away is another great example where the advertising “character” is Fed Ex. At the end of the movie Fed Ex ends up bringing Hanks romance. Then there’s the infamous Sex in the City episode were Samantha’s boyfriend ends up on a gigantic bill board sporting his birthday suit and a bottle of Absolut Vodka. Companies like BMW and American Express have also created mini films which have been very successful in marketing their products, partly due to the stars who act in them.
World Cup Nike movie ad:
The part of the documentary I found to be the most interesting was the part about the science of selling. Cotaire Rapaille, a market research guru, says people are driven by “unconscious needs.” He claims that if advertisers can tap into the “reptilian brain” they can figure out why people do what they do. He follows a reason-emotion-primal core model, and looks for reptilian “hot buttons.” Rapaille was once a psychologist, so he ingeniously applies psychology to advertising with amazing results. Another marketing genius, Frank Lutz, feels that language is the most powerful form of advertising, if used correctly. He has worked for political campaigns and has come up with words like “tax relief” for tax cuts and “climate change” instead of global warming. He also brings up the point that 80% of advertising is emotion and 20% is intellect. The end of the film talks about the company Acxiom, a giant information center which gathers billions of data on individuals, so the advertisers know exactly what products and likes and dislikes their customers have. Beware, big brother is watching you, and he wants your money.
After watching the documentary I realized that #1 advertisers want to appeal to consumers emotions and will accomplish this through advertising manipulation. #2 advertisers look for the voids and desires in people and then create a product to “fill the void.” #3 advertisers know us better than we know ourselves, which is down right scary. As consumers we have been brainwashed into thinking that a brand is going to make us happy beyond reason, that we can’t live without certain products, and that if we don’t have them we will be losers. As the economy has declined it seems that advertisers have had to re-sharpen their tools in order to keep us hooked. But there has been a back lash, and some consumers see through the lies. That’s where Flawsome comes in. The brand claims to “show some empathy, generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humor, and character and humanity.” The key drivers of the Flawsome brand are human brands that “drive consumers away from bland boring brands to brands with flavor and personality.” Then there’s the “transparency triumph” element of the brand customers benefiting from almost “total and utter transparency.” This really sounds perfect now, doesn’t it? But the fact remains, Flawsome is still a BRAND! It’s just a much smarter and wiser brand. It tricks people into thinking that they are in control of their advertising when in reality it’s the other way around, and I think the customers are being played even more by the advertisers who think that because they can expose some of the flaws of a product then they have won. In fact, Flawsome has them right where they want them, buying products because they’re better, after all they are “honest.” (When did a product develop human characteristics by the way?) In the end it’s the same as any other advertiser because
stupid people are still buying the product!
I bet people want to buy this out of sheer curiosity. I mean, does the product suck?
I think advertisers will continue to get into the psyche of the public and will perpetually make money because in the end as a society Americans are materialistic at heart, in fact we’re probably the most materialistic society on earth. If we’re duped by advertisers and lured into buying their products then it’s our own bloody fault. We need to be smarter than the advertisers and realize that we don’t “need” any product. Yes, we need the basics to live such as food, shelter, and clothing, but we don’t need the $100 pair of Nikes. We’ve bought into a lie, and the lie continues to work because we want it to, and we would rather live in denial than face the fact that society tells us that we aren’t “good enough” without the newest most expensive things. Stuff doesn’t ever satisfy, it just creates more of a desire and addiction for more stuff, (roaches), and let’s be honest: enough is never enough. The only way to silence this beast is to stop feeding it. Instead of heading over to Kohl’s go thrifting, do a clothes swap, re-cycle and re-purpose. Maybe you won’t be as “cool” as the person next door, but you won’t be duped into a lie that products will make your life perfect and money will buy your happiness either.