Advertising has the power to persuade society consciously and unconsciously. Advertisements have always been integral part of the twentieth century, but they really took off with the invention of the television. Unlike radio, televisions infiltrated their way into our homes embedding aural and visual messages into our naive minds.
When cigarette’s came out there were ads everywhere portraying smoking to be sexy, and cool. People were heavily influenced by commercials, and the many messages they send. If you see a commercial 20 times a day with doctors, guys and sexy women smoking, as well as your favorite celebs, you start to believe that everyone smokes and that you are not normal unless you do. On top of that, there was no regulation on the type of cigarrette commercials allowed or who those commercials targeted.
In 1971, advertisements featuring cigarettes were banned from American television (wikipedia). Society began to see the negative effects of cigarettes. This cancer causing element on a stick that slowly kills and physically diminishes a person, was somehow believed to be the coolest thing since sliced bread. The power that these intrusive ads had on the human psyche was no longer a theory, but a fact. The persuasiveness of advertisements consumes society and molds people into who we are and who companies want us to be. Ads work to tell the consumer what we need and want. They work to make the audience believe that they have to have this product in order to obtain an image or fulfill a need. They sell the lie and we buy it.
Many advertisements appeal to logos (the message) , ethos (credibility of product), and pathos (visual image appeals to audience). Aristotle’s idea on how people are influenced and persuaded (literary devices, http://literarydevices.net/ethos/).
In Frontline’s documentary The Persuaders, it touched upon different techniques that marketing experts use to appeal to an audience. One of the most interesting and effective ways to market is to appeal to an audience’s emotions. If you as a marketer are able to tug on some heart-strings, and activate the consumer’s reptilian desires, as Clotaire Rapaille explains, “then you are able to touch on a mental connection that a person has for the rest of their life.”
In the documentary, it also talked about the airline Song. Which honestly after about the 3rd time of hearing “that’s song” I wanted to scream. The whole time they were doing all their market research and board meetings, I was yelling at my laptop “this is a horrible idea!” As the article on Trendwatching.com elaborates, that consumers want flawsome, not fake. We want personality and realness, not perfection.
“Why so song?”
I would never fly song just because of the annoyance factor. On top of it, they built this whole airline on a name and “vibe” shall I say, that has nothing to do with airlines or flying, just being “song.” wtf. Someone should have stopped them early on in the investment and said, “no stop, this is a bad idea.”
Another technique that was portrayed in the film was the Andy Spade’s idea on using emotional appeal to market. He explains that “at the end of the day you want to be part of that culture, and when you get to that point, you’ve created a huge success.”He elaborates that appealing to someone’s needs and desires helps them become connected to the product.
Advertising works to feel a void that we didn’t even know we had. Wait, do we have a void? Probably not, but these messages have so much power to psychologically fulfill these socially constructed inadequacies embedded in our minds. Marketing Research experts seem to be about 100 steps ahead of the consumer. As the obesity rate soars in the US and alcohol related accidents rise, I wonder how far advertisements will continue to push like they do, before we have more regulations on commercials.