The purpose of advertisements is to create a connection between consumers and the product being advertised. They really don’t care if the viewer has no interest in their product or no need for it. Instead, they try to show a connection and a need that will encourage people to buy their product.
The statement “These are real people, not actors” appears regularly in advertisements. This statement is intended to connect the viewer with the “real people” in the commercial. The idea is to get the viewer to think, “Oh, these are real people like me. If they like it, so will I.”
Other advertisements try to connect the consumer with things that they desire. A weight loss commercial may show men and women that lost 50 pounds. They are hoping that the viewer will react strongly. Perhaps they will say, “I want to lose that much weight. Maybe I should use their program.” On the other hand, the consumer may say, “I only need to lose 20 pounds. If they can lose 50, surely I can lose 20.”
Pharmaceuticals often advertise the magic pill. In commercials, someone suffering from depression magically becomes a happy person after taking the magic pill. Advertisers hope that you will ignore or not even see the fine print that says some people have suicidal thoughts when taking the magic pill. In reality, there are no magic pills.
Alternatively, the advertisement may feature a sexy woman or man. Consumers are drawn to them because they want to be like them and they want to have what the person in the advertisement has. The hope is that the consumer will equate the sexiness of the actor with the product. Thus, they are attempting to implant the idea that the fancy car will make the consumer sexier or draw a sexy person into their life.
People are driven to see the grass on the other side of the fence as greener, which is fueled by these advertisements. Of course these advertisers don’t tell consumers that they are fine the way they are. If they did then they wouldn’t sell anything. Connecting people with being happy the way they are and with what they have is completely contradictory to advertising.
Advertisements aren’t, however, always presented in a positive manner. In political advertisement, for example, many advertisements paint an opponent in a negative light and contrast themselves as positive. These advertisements may use black and white images of the opponent, shroud the opponent in darkness, and/or use negative verbiage stamped across the opponent. Meanwhile, the favored candidate is presented in color with positive verbiage. These types of psychological techniques have evolved over the years, but are still obvious in commercials today.
Be In Control
It’s important for us to understand how advertisers attempt to make connections to products, services, and people. By having this understanding, consumers can use their own critical thinking rather than being at the mercy of the advertisers.
So, next time you see an advertisement, especially if it seems too good to be true or is very degrading to someone, question it, research it, and consciously choose how you react to it.