Samantha in the stores, flying in the sky

Samantha Cillo

Pamela Green

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English 102

4 December 2017

Advertising
Exposed

            In
today’s world it is hard to bypass the abundance of advertisements that are
exposed to us. Ads are literally everywhere. Whether its watching TV, surfing
the internet, driving down the road, or reading a newspaper or magazine the
advertisements are right in front of us. These ads have become an intrusive
part in everyday life through means of every form of media and technology we
have today. We can no longer watch movies without seeing ads, do a quick search
online, go to the grocery store, go to a live sports game, listen to music, read
the newspaper, or even watch a news broadcast. Advertisements are on the TV, on
our cellphones, online, in newspapers, in magazines, in the mail, on
billboards, in the stores, flying in the sky behind planes or on blimps, at
sports games, on the radio, at the movie theatres, etc. It seems as if no
matter what activity we do or where we go, there is always an ad ready to catch
the eye of us vulnerable consumers. But what exactly is advertising though? Advertising
is, “a public notice” (Merriam-Webster). This definition is very broad, yet so
is advertising. Advertising can be so many different things and used in so many
ways. One thing that advertising is, is manipulating.

            Advertising,
although manipulating, it serves a purpose. Business. Advertisers’ main drive
is to influence the audience to purchase their product. When they succeed in
selling their product they make a profit off the purchase and thus can keep
their business afloat and make a living. It keeps the world going round.
Consumers that buy the products that they see in advertisements and thus are
happy with their purchase, they tend to spread the word to their friends,
family, and co-workers. This word of mouth is free advertisement for the
companies selling those products and this is exactly what companies want. Gaining
a reputable reputation is what they want to get noticed. This will have people
talking about their ‘great’ products because they know that will only lead to
more success and more sales. Advertising equals money. Money equals wealth.
Wealth, for some, equals happiness.

            Just
like 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 common
different 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 a
webpage” (MSG). There are so many more different techniques that have not been
listed, yet are being used to this day. Different techniques are used for
various kinds of ads. Depending on the advertisement companies goal they want
to 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 will
have an impact on the type of advertisement technique they want to use.

The emotional appeal advertising
technique, “is done with help of two factors –
needs of consumers and fear factor” (MSG). All consumers have needs and the
companies creating these advertisements know this and will use it to their
advantage. 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 of
manipulation, perhaps by showing a commercial with someone using the targeted
product with a bunch of new friends around them. When the consumer sees these
ads, and sees that it would, potentially, fulfill their needs of being accepted
then they are more likely to buy the product. Another fitting example using the
fear factor is that people have a fear of getting old. Companies could use manipulation
with 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 create
false evidence to manipulate people into buying their products. This technique
can also be tied into another advertising technique, bandwagon. “Bandwagon
advertising uses a group mentality to try to convince individual consumers that
a product is worth purchasing. The idea is that if it is good enough for the
group, then it is good enough for you” (Root). Bandwagon techniques work
because it makes everybody think and feel like everyone else is doing or buying
the product, so they should too, this is manipulation. The companies know that
people have the fear of being left out, so they manipulate their ads to show
that ‘everyone’ is buying and/or using this product. With the use of the
product the person in the ad gains more friends and this creates an image to
the audience that if you use this product then you’ll get friends to. It’s the
mentality 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 the
persons unconscious, stemming from a need or fear for example, and would cause
a reaction that will make the persons conscious act upon it.

Another commonly used
advertising technique is by endorsement. This technique is when the companies
pays a celebrity to advertise their product to the audience in order to sell
it. These companies know that people idolize celebrities and some even want to
be just like a certain celebrity. The companies pay celebrities to endorse
their products and say that they use the product and enjoy using it because
they know there are people there that are going to see the ad and may actually
buy their product just because a certain celebrity is in the ad and using the
product. Just a few examples of endorsement ads are a super bowl ad for
Snickers that featured the infamous Betty White, Ellen DeGeneres featured in an
American Express ad, Jennifer Aniston featured for Smartwater, Lebron James
featured in ads for Nike, Mark Wahlberg featured for Calvin Klein, and David
Beckham featured for Armani/H&M. These ads are manipulating in a way that
convinces the audience that if the product is good enough for a certain
celebrity and that celebrity is saying how they like the product then it must
truly be an excellent product and so the audience will buy the merchandise. Regardless
of the fact that the celebrities are getting paid to use the product in the ad
and talk highly of the product, people still will buy the product because they
idolize that celebrity so much.

            One
more, 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, which
in turn gets stuck in everyone’s head. There are many examples out there that
almost everyone knows. Who can say subway and not think of the $5 footlong
jingle? These jingles and/or phrases are used on purpose. When one can’t get
something out of their mind they are more than likely to lean towards that
product since it is what’s on their mind. This is because of ones’ unconscious
thoughts cause a reaction that dictates the actions of the conscious, which is
to buy the product because they feel a connection. The Band-Aid jingle is
another example of association. This catchy little jingle will pop in one’s
head almost any time they see Band-Aids, and this is exactly what the companies
want to happen. Along with the association technique, repetition, is also a
frequently used advertisement technique. The more someone hears or sees
something the more likely they are to remember it and thus feel a connection to
it when they come across it again. “Repetition
is one way to increase visual fluency and hence appeal. The more people see
something, the more they like it” (Clay 2002). An example of a
catch phrase is the one that Allstate insurance company uses, ‘are you in good
hand?’. When reading that it’s almost a guarantee that everyone can picture the
spokesman with the deep voice that says that phrase for Allstate. The companies
make up these jingles and catch phrases so that the audience has something to
make a connection with for that product. When one is shopping for a particular
item they may be more intrigued to go for the product that they feel a
connection with through those jingles and catch phrases that they remember.

            In
movies and tv shows there are sometimes product placements that are seen. Like
when a character takes a drink from a brand name product container. This is a
technique called surrogate advertising. “The advertisers use indirect advertisements to advertise their product
so that the customers know about the actual product” (MSG). The best
example of this is with alcohol. When filming the actors are not drinking
alcoholic drinks on set, they are drinking another drink that looks like the
alcohol, for example juice or colored water. This technique still gets the
product out there for people to see yet makes the audience believe that the
character is actually using that exact product shown. This again, will cause
the audience to feel that connection when they are shopping and see that
product again that was in the show or movie. If the person liked the show or
movie they may unconsciously want to buy the product.

In advertising there is a
thing known as subliminal advertisement. “Subliminal advertising is that making
use of words or images (referred to as stimuli) we don’t consciously detect”
(Zimmerman 2014). In Vance Packard book, The
Hidden Persuaders, “the book convinced generations of Americans that
advertisers were using hidden symbols to manipulate consumers into buying
products they neither needed nor wanted” (Clay 2002). For example, in the
Amazon logo most people think that the yellow mark under the name is a grin, it
actually is not a grin. The yellow mark is an arrow and is pointing from the letter
A to the letter Z meaning that Amazon has everything from A to Z. The fact that
it is seen as a grin only helps the company since this makes people feel happy
and good about the Amazon company and are more likely to us it. The
advertisement companies know that the subliminal messages that they put into
their ads will affect the audience in a way that could make their product sell
more. The more subtle and clever the ad the better. “When subliminal stimuli
exert an influence on us it’s said to be an unconscious influence, meaning it’s an influence we’re not
consciously aware of” (Zimmerman 2014).

The
advertisement companies that are creating these ads use ways of manipulation to
gain control of the audience. These strategies are well thought out and are key
to the company’s success in trying to sell their products.
 At times, ads can be deceptive in
ways that cloud the consumers judgement and manipulates them into purchasing
the product for reasons other than what the actual intended purpose of that
product was for. Advertisers impact the consumers by manipulating them into
buying their product over a generic product that could accomplish the same task,
directing the advertisement towards
a certain audience, and developing the ad where it is visually attractive. Advertising
is one of the most used ways in an effort to increase sales and advertising is
also often the most misused way to target audience.

            In
the book, The Hidden Persuaders by
Vance Packard, revealed how advertising agencies
used psychologists and other behavioral scientists to probe deep into
consumers’ minds and build advertising campaigns based on what they found there”
(Clay 2002). To much surprise, Vance Packard did not use the phrase
subliminal advertising, it was James Vicary that introduced it. James Vicary
conducted a study in 1957 at a movie theatre in which he placed a tachistoscope
in the projection booth that would flash messages faster than the conscious
mind could perceive them like, “eat popcorn” or “drink Coca-Cola” which allegedly
enhanced concession-stand sales (Zimmerman
2014). Thus, James coined the phrase subliminal advertising. Granted, the
study Vicary had done turned out to be a lie with false data and the popcorn
experiment a total joke. “Packard’s book symbolized the golden age of
psychologists’ involvement in advertising. Throughout the 1950s, advertising
agencies relied upon psychologists and other behavioral experts to help
construct their ad campaigns” (Clay 2002).

            Our
brains are wired so that we associate things that we experience through our
senses with feelings. Everyone was once a young child, and everyone learned a
valuable life lesson in one way or another. One may have touched a hot stove
and it caused pain, another may have eaten a nonfood item and it made them feel
sick. These are just two examples of experiences involving our senses that
almost everyone has gone through and have attached a feeling to in which are
now memories and became stored in the unconscious mind. When a feeling is
attached to something it is what that person thinks of when that experience
arises 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 hot
stove since they know it caused them pain before. That person is not repeatedly
thinking to themselves do not touch the stove on purpose, that thought is
automatic. Without ones’ awareness, the unconscious mind is processing
information and making decisions for them. This is all because the conscious
and unconscious that can function independently. Yet, this is also something
that can backfire as well. “Take for instance the
dual purchase of toothpaste and mouth wash. Why would anyone brush with
toothpaste clinically proven to whiten teeth and then rinse with a brightly
colored green mouthwash . . . our unconscious minds have learned to associate
the color green with the feeling of clean, fresh, and minty . . . every time we
see the color green, it comes with a powerful emotional affect, overriding any
concerns about why we are buying whitening toothpaste in the first place” (Van
Praet 2013). No one thinks about this point made about the toothpaste and
colored mouth wash, everyone just automatically has the instinct to use mouthwash
after brushing their teeth because this is what we are shown and told to do,
this can be blamed on advertising.

            To
better understand how advertising can be manipulating, it is important to
understand the psychology behind it and the concept of the conscious and
unconscious mind first. Going back to psychology class, Sigmund Freud was one of
the starlight’s of the class. Freud developed a theory using an analogy known
as the mental iceberg. The iceberg has 3 layers each representing a part of our
minds: 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 is
the type of research that seeks to learn what motivates people in making
choices. It employs techniques designed to reach the unconscious or subconscious
mind because preferences generally are determined by factors of which the
individual is not conscious . . . in the buying situation the consumer
generally acts emotionally and compulsively, unconsciously reacting to the
images and designs which in the subconscious are associated with the product .
. . They are learning, for example, to offer us considerably more than the
actual item involved. (Packard 8)

The conscious mind is what regulates the actions and
the unconscious mind is what regulates the reaction. The first layer being the
conscious 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 that
every single person does, think! From all the numerous thoughts that someone
has each and every day, stems their very own perception of those thoughts. Each
person’s perception about a thought is different from others’ perceptions. The
conscious is also what the world can witness. The second layer being the
subconscious level, which is the middle of the iceberg and is underwater, it
includes ones’ memories and stored knowledge. This is where everyone stores
their life memories and all the knowledge that they have obtained throughout the
years, this level is accessible. The third and final layer being the
unconscious level, which is at the bottom and is submerged deep into the water,
it includes things like ones’ fears, selfish needs, irrational wishes, immoral
urges, unacceptable sexual desires, and shameful experiences. This level is the
unreachable level. Defense mechanisms, like repression, are safe guards that
each person has to protect themselves. The unconscious mind is like a holding
area for all the frightening and painful memories and/or experiences that
person may have endured. Yet there is a way that can gain access to the
unconscious mind and that is by Freud’s theory, psychoanalysis, which “the aim of psychoanalysis therapy is to release
repressed emotions and experiences, i.e., make the unconscious conscious” (McLeod
2007). Psychoanalysis is not easy, and it takes a lot of time. This is not
a guaranteed way to access the unconscious mind on someone. If psychoanalysis is
not a guaranteed way, then that just goes to show that it is not easily accessed
and thus one would not be likely to do it on their own.

            Advertising
uses several different methods and techniques, as mentioned earlier, that
affect peoples conscious and unconscious minds. All advertising manipulates
people in some way, shape, or form. It’s not the advertising itself that sells
these products. Advertising is offering and promising beauty, self-confidence, and
health, etc. to the people. Those promises are what sells the products. People
want that everlasting youth just like the person in the ad has, people want
that self-confidence that the person strutting around in the ad has, and people
want to better their health with the magic of a single pill that promises to do
just that. When people are viewing these ads, their unconscious minds are being
triggered. Everyone has those selfish needs and irrational wishes that the
advertising companies know are unanimous amongst the majority of people. It’s
not that people are tapping into their unconscious thoughts themselves, rather
it is the drive of those unconscious thoughts that are influencing the people’s
conscious and thus they act upon it. Manipulation in advertising exists for manipulation of
the most intimate parts of our unconscious mind.

 

 

Work
Cited

“Advertisement.” Merriam-Webster.com,
Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/advertisement.
Accessed Apr. 2017.

Clay, Rebecca. “Advertising as Science.” Monitor
on Psychology, American Psychological
Association, Oct. 2002, www.apa.org/monitor/oct02/advertising.aspx.

McLeod, Saul. “Psychoanalysis.” Simply
Psychology – Articles for Students, 2007,
www.simplypsychology.org/psychoanalysis.html.

“MSG Management Study Guide.” Advertising
Techniques – 13 Most Common Techniques Used by the Advertisers, www.managementstudyguide.com/advertising-techniques.htm.

Packard, Vance. The Hidden Persuaders.
New York: D. McKay Co, 1957. Print.

Root, George. “Examples of Bandwagon Advertising Propaganda Techniques.” Chron.com, Heart Newspapers, smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-bandwagon-advertising-propaganda-techniques-17411.html.

Van Praet, Douglas. “How Marketers Manipulate You Without
Your Knowing.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 3 June 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unconscious-branding/201306/how-marketers-manipulate-you-without-your-knowing.

Zimmerman, Ian. “Subliminal Ads, Unconscious Influence, and
Consumption.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 9 June 2014,
www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sold/201406/subliminal-ads-unconscious-influence-and-consumption.