Samantha CilloPamela GreenEnglish 1024 December 2017AdvertisingExposed Intoday’s world it is hard to bypass the abundance of advertisements that areexposed to us. Ads are literally everywhere. Whether its watching TV, surfingthe internet, driving down the road, or reading a newspaper or magazine theadvertisements are right in front of us. These ads have become an intrusivepart in everyday life through means of every form of media and technology wehave today.
We can no longer watch movies without seeing ads, do a quick searchonline, go to the grocery store, go to a live sports game, listen to music, readthe newspaper, or even watch a news broadcast. Advertisements are on the TV, onour cellphones, online, in newspapers, in magazines, in the mail, onbillboards, in the stores, flying in the sky behind planes or on blimps, atsports games, on the radio, at the movie theatres, etc. It seems as if nomatter what activity we do or where we go, there is always an ad ready to catchthe eye of us vulnerable consumers. But what exactly is advertising though? Advertisingis, “a public notice” (Merriam-Webster). This definition is very broad, yet sois advertising. Advertising can be so many different things and used in so manyways.
One thing that advertising is, is manipulating. Advertising,although manipulating, it serves a purpose. Business. Advertisers’ main driveis to influence the audience to purchase their product.
When they succeed inselling their product they make a profit off the purchase and thus can keeptheir business afloat and make a living. It keeps the world going round.Consumers that buy the products that they see in advertisements and thus arehappy with their purchase, they tend to spread the word to their friends,family, and co-workers. This word of mouth is free advertisement for thecompanies selling those products and this is exactly what companies want. Gaininga reputable reputation is what they want to get noticed. This will have peopletalking about their ‘great’ products because they know that will only lead tomore success and more sales. Advertising equals money.
Money equals wealth.Wealth, for some, equals happiness. Justlike anything else in the world, advertising comes in many different shapes,sizes, and colors. This is where the manipulation comes into play.
Some of the commondifferent advertisement techniques that are used most frequently today are: “repetition,association, bandwagon, promotions, facts and statistics, emotional appeal,endorsements, surrogate, questioning the consumer, links, and banners on awebpage” (MSG). There are so many more different techniques that have not beenlisted, yet are being used to this day. Different techniques are used forvarious kinds of ads. Depending on the advertisement companies goal they wantto achieve with the ad calls for the use of one technique over another.
Also,the type of audience the company want to reach with a particular product willhave an impact on the type of advertisement technique they want to use.The emotional appeal advertisingtechnique, “is done with help of two factors -needs of consumers and fear factor” (MSG). All consumers have needs and thecompanies creating these advertisements know this and will use it to theiradvantage. A common need of people is the feeling of being accepted by others.The companies will make an ad that is targeting this need by use ofmanipulation, perhaps by showing a commercial with someone using the targetedproduct with a bunch of new friends around them. When the consumer sees theseads, and sees that it would, potentially, fulfill their needs of being acceptedthen they are more likely to buy the product. Another fitting example using thefear factor is that people have a fear of getting old. Companies could use manipulationwith this by showing before and after pictures with the use of their product.
People like evidence and with the help of photoshop, companies are able to createfalse evidence to manipulate people into buying their products. This techniquecan also be tied into another advertising technique, bandwagon. “Bandwagonadvertising uses a group mentality to try to convince individual consumers thata product is worth purchasing. The idea is that if it is good enough for thegroup, then it is good enough for you” (Root). Bandwagon techniques workbecause it makes everybody think and feel like everyone else is doing or buyingthe product, so they should too, this is manipulation. The companies know thatpeople have the fear of being left out, so they manipulate their ads to showthat ‘everyone’ is buying and/or using this product. With the use of theproduct the person in the ad gains more friends and this creates an image tothe audience that if you use this product then you’ll get friends to.
It’s thementality of, ‘you have what I want so I have to do what you do to get that’.The desires that people have will be so strong that a simple ad can trigger thepersons unconscious, stemming from a need or fear for example, and would causea reaction that will make the persons conscious act upon it. Another commonly usedadvertising technique is by endorsement.
This technique is when the companiespays a celebrity to advertise their product to the audience in order to sellit. These companies know that people idolize celebrities and some even want tobe just like a certain celebrity. The companies pay celebrities to endorsetheir products and say that they use the product and enjoy using it becausethey know there are people there that are going to see the ad and may actuallybuy their product just because a certain celebrity is in the ad and using theproduct. Just a few examples of endorsement ads are a super bowl ad forSnickers that featured the infamous Betty White, Ellen DeGeneres featured in anAmerican Express ad, Jennifer Aniston featured for Smartwater, Lebron Jamesfeatured in ads for Nike, Mark Wahlberg featured for Calvin Klein, and DavidBeckham featured for Armani/H&M. These ads are manipulating in a way thatconvinces the audience that if the product is good enough for a certaincelebrity and that celebrity is saying how they like the product then it musttruly be an excellent product and so the audience will buy the merchandise. Regardlessof the fact that the celebrities are getting paid to use the product in the adand talk highly of the product, people still will buy the product because theyidolize that celebrity so much.
Onemore, yet very successful, advertisement technique that is used is known as association.This is when companies advertise and throw in a catchy jingle or phrase, whichin turn gets stuck in everyone’s head. There are many examples out there thatalmost everyone knows. Who can say subway and not think of the $5 footlongjingle? These jingles and/or phrases are used on purpose. When one can’t getsomething out of their mind they are more than likely to lean towards thatproduct since it is what’s on their mind. This is because of ones’ unconsciousthoughts cause a reaction that dictates the actions of the conscious, which isto buy the product because they feel a connection. The Band-Aid jingle isanother example of association.
This catchy little jingle will pop in one’shead almost any time they see Band-Aids, and this is exactly what the companieswant to happen. Along with the association technique, repetition, is also afrequently used advertisement technique. The more someone hears or seessomething the more likely they are to remember it and thus feel a connection toit when they come across it again. “Repetitionis one way to increase visual fluency and hence appeal. The more people seesomething, the more they like it” (Clay 2002).
An example of acatch phrase is the one that Allstate insurance company uses, ‘are you in goodhand?’. When reading that it’s almost a guarantee that everyone can picture thespokesman with the deep voice that says that phrase for Allstate. The companiesmake up these jingles and catch phrases so that the audience has something tomake a connection with for that product. When one is shopping for a particularitem they may be more intrigued to go for the product that they feel aconnection with through those jingles and catch phrases that they remember. Inmovies and tv shows there are sometimes product placements that are seen.
Likewhen a character takes a drink from a brand name product container. This is atechnique called surrogate advertising. “The advertisers use indirect advertisements to advertise their productso that the customers know about the actual product” (MSG).
The bestexample of this is with alcohol. When filming the actors are not drinkingalcoholic drinks on set, they are drinking another drink that looks like thealcohol, for example juice or colored water. This technique still gets theproduct out there for people to see yet makes the audience believe that thecharacter is actually using that exact product shown. This again, will causethe audience to feel that connection when they are shopping and see thatproduct again that was in the show or movie. If the person liked the show ormovie they may unconsciously want to buy the product.In advertising there is athing known as subliminal advertisement.
“Subliminal advertising is that makinguse of words or images (referred to as stimuli) we don’t consciously detect”(Zimmerman 2014). In Vance Packard book, TheHidden Persuaders, “the book convinced generations of Americans thatadvertisers were using hidden symbols to manipulate consumers into buyingproducts they neither needed nor wanted” (Clay 2002). For example, in theAmazon logo most people think that the yellow mark under the name is a grin, itactually is not a grin. The yellow mark is an arrow and is pointing from the letterA to the letter Z meaning that Amazon has everything from A to Z. The fact thatit is seen as a grin only helps the company since this makes people feel happyand good about the Amazon company and are more likely to us it.
Theadvertisement companies know that the subliminal messages that they put intotheir ads will affect the audience in a way that could make their product sellmore. The more subtle and clever the ad the better. “When subliminal stimuliexert an influence on us it’s said to be an unconscious influence, meaning it’s an influence we’re notconsciously aware of” (Zimmerman 2014). Theadvertisement companies that are creating these ads use ways of manipulation togain control of the audience. These strategies are well thought out and are keyto the company’s success in trying to sell their products. At times, ads can be deceptive inways that cloud the consumers judgement and manipulates them into purchasingthe product for reasons other than what the actual intended purpose of thatproduct was for. Advertisers impact the consumers by manipulating them intobuying their product over a generic product that could accomplish the same task,directing the advertisement towardsa certain audience, and developing the ad where it is visually attractive.
Advertisingis one of the most used ways in an effort to increase sales and advertising isalso often the most misused way to target audience. Inthe book, The Hidden Persuaders byVance Packard, revealed how advertising agenciesused psychologists and other behavioral scientists to probe deep intoconsumers’ minds and build advertising campaigns based on what they found there”(Clay 2002). To much surprise, Vance Packard did not use the phrasesubliminal advertising, it was James Vicary that introduced it.
James Vicaryconducted a study in 1957 at a movie theatre in which he placed a tachistoscopein the projection booth that would flash messages faster than the consciousmind could perceive them like, “eat popcorn” or “drink Coca-Cola” which allegedlyenhanced concession-stand sales (Zimmerman2014). Thus, James coined the phrase subliminal advertising. Granted, thestudy Vicary had done turned out to be a lie with false data and the popcornexperiment a total joke. “Packard’s book symbolized the golden age ofpsychologists’ involvement in advertising. Throughout the 1950s, advertisingagencies relied upon psychologists and other behavioral experts to helpconstruct their ad campaigns” (Clay 2002).
Ourbrains are wired so that we associate things that we experience through oursenses with feelings. Everyone was once a young child, and everyone learned avaluable life lesson in one way or another. One may have touched a hot stoveand it caused pain, another may have eaten a nonfood item and it made them feelsick. These are just two examples of experiences involving our senses thatalmost everyone has gone through and have attached a feeling to in which arenow memories and became stored in the unconscious mind. When a feeling isattached to something it is what that person thinks of when that experiencearises again without missing a beat since it is stemming from the unconscious,for example when someone is cooking they try their best to not touch the hotstove since they know it caused them pain before. That person is not repeatedlythinking to themselves do not touch the stove on purpose, that thought isautomatic.
Without ones’ awareness, the unconscious mind is processinginformation and making decisions for them. This is all because the consciousand unconscious that can function independently. Yet, this is also somethingthat can backfire as well. “Take for instance thedual purchase of toothpaste and mouth wash.
Why would anyone brush withtoothpaste clinically proven to whiten teeth and then rinse with a brightlycolored green mouthwash . . . our unconscious minds have learned to associatethe color green with the feeling of clean, fresh, and minty .
. . every time wesee the color green, it comes with a powerful emotional affect, overriding anyconcerns about why we are buying whitening toothpaste in the first place” (VanPraet 2013). No one thinks about this point made about the toothpaste andcolored mouth wash, everyone just automatically has the instinct to use mouthwashafter brushing their teeth because this is what we are shown and told to do,this can be blamed on advertising. Tobetter understand how advertising can be manipulating, it is important tounderstand the psychology behind it and the concept of the conscious andunconscious mind first.
Going back to psychology class, Sigmund Freud was one ofthe starlight’s of the class. Freud developed a theory using an analogy knownas the mental iceberg. The iceberg has 3 layers each representing a part of ourminds: the conscious, the subconscious, and the unconscious mind. In the book, The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard,he explained the conscious and unconscious mind of a consumer:Motivation research isthe type of research that seeks to learn what motivates people in makingchoices. It employs techniques designed to reach the unconscious or subconsciousmind because preferences generally are determined by factors of which theindividual is not conscious . .
. in the buying situation the consumergenerally acts emotionally and compulsively, unconsciously reacting to theimages and designs which in the subconscious are associated with the product .. . They are learning, for example, to offer us considerably more than theactual item involved. (Packard 8)The conscious mind is what regulates the actions andthe unconscious mind is what regulates the reaction.
The first layer being theconscious level, which is the tip of the iceberg and is exposed to the world,it includes ones’ thoughts and perceptions. This is the everyday part thatevery single person does, think! From all the numerous thoughts that someonehas each and every day, stems their very own perception of those thoughts. Eachperson’s perception about a thought is different from others’ perceptions. Theconscious is also what the world can witness.
The second layer being thesubconscious level, which is the middle of the iceberg and is underwater, itincludes ones’ memories and stored knowledge. This is where everyone storestheir life memories and all the knowledge that they have obtained throughout theyears, this level is accessible. The third and final layer being theunconscious level, which is at the bottom and is submerged deep into the water,it includes things like ones’ fears, selfish needs, irrational wishes, immoralurges, unacceptable sexual desires, and shameful experiences. This level is theunreachable level. Defense mechanisms, like repression, are safe guards thateach person has to protect themselves. The unconscious mind is like a holdingarea for all the frightening and painful memories and/or experiences thatperson may have endured.
Yet there is a way that can gain access to theunconscious mind and that is by Freud’s theory, psychoanalysis, which “the aim of psychoanalysis therapy is to releaserepressed emotions and experiences, i.e., make the unconscious conscious” (McLeod2007). Psychoanalysis is not easy, and it takes a lot of time.
This is nota guaranteed way to access the unconscious mind on someone. If psychoanalysis isnot a guaranteed way, then that just goes to show that it is not easily accessedand thus one would not be likely to do it on their own. Advertisinguses several different methods and techniques, as mentioned earlier, thataffect peoples conscious and unconscious minds. All advertising manipulatespeople in some way, shape, or form. It’s not the advertising itself that sellsthese products. Advertising is offering and promising beauty, self-confidence, andhealth, etc. to the people. Those promises are what sells the products.
Peoplewant that everlasting youth just like the person in the ad has, people wantthat self-confidence that the person strutting around in the ad has, and peoplewant to better their health with the magic of a single pill that promises to dojust that. When people are viewing these ads, their unconscious minds are beingtriggered. Everyone has those selfish needs and irrational wishes that theadvertising companies know are unanimous amongst the majority of people. It’snot that people are tapping into their unconscious thoughts themselves, ratherit is the drive of those unconscious thoughts that are influencing the people’sconscious and thus they act upon it. Manipulation in advertising exists for manipulation ofthe most intimate parts of our unconscious mind. WorkCited”Advertisement.” Merriam-Webster.com,Merriam-Webster, www.
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