The fact that we are constantly being advertised at will come as no surprise to any of you. It’s the nature of a materialistic, consumer society. I’m not going to bother arguing whether capitalism is a good or a bad thing, but the upshot is, we get sold stuff all day long.
In a lot of ways, advertising is a necessary evil. If you have a new product or service that you want to flog, you need to let people know about it, otherwise they won’t know it exists. There’s nothing wrong with pushing your wares.
If you want your new company to do well and turn a profit, you have to try and flog stuff to the best of your ability, using any (legal) tactics you can.
On the other side of things, advertising helps fund amazing websites like Sick Chirpse, enabling us to continue pumping out the goods. Also, if you are eagerly awaiting an imminent film or game release, you might welcome an advert to let you know it has hit the shops.
For many reasons, advertising and marketing are unavoidable. From TV ads to website ads, billboards, fliers, product placement in films and series, discount shops, magazines, newspapers… it goes on and on.
Having been thinking about adverts and general sales strategy whilst writing this article I’ve been hyper-attuned to the adverts around me. Jesus, they’re everywhere. Someone estimated that, if you live in a city, you are likely to be presented around 5,000 adverts in a single day.
But, although I have no problem with advertising itself, some of their tactics are a little underhanded. On the other side of the coin, some of their tactics are actually pretty clever. Oftentimes they will hone in on the subconscious and affect your choices without you even realizing they are crawling around in your swollen ape brain.
I found one survey of the American public where 50% of respondents said they trusted adverts. That’s a terrifying level of stupidity. I’d like to think the UK would fare better, but I’m not convinced.
I thought I would throw together a bunch of the most common and/or interesting ways companies try and fleece us of our cash. Forwarned is forearmed and all that. The more people are aware of the tricks, the less they will work, theoretically.
So, here are some of the top ways that ad companies and marketing agencies will try to rinse you today. Some might seem a bit obvious, but it’s always good to do a bit of revision:
In other words, making things appear human sells things to humans. Without your conscious brain ever alerting you, logo and font designers make things subliminally people-like.
The Heineken logo up above is a good example. Those three ‘e’s, gently tilted back whilst the other letters stand bolt upright. They’re smiling at you, that’s no type face error. Let’s call that lesson number one – there are no errors in adverts, everything is doing something to convince you to buy their shizzle.
It might sound a bit far-fetched, but remember, these guys won’t do something unless it works, they’ve been in the game for hundreds of years and they know what works, even if we don’t think it does.
Humans have got a natural propensity to see faces in things as it is:
Spotting a face and understanding the emotion it is conveying is hardwired into our chimpanzee-based brains. It’s always going on in the background. They just tap into that.
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