It is the job of advertisement companies to create ads that will inspire consumers to purchase a product. To successfully do this, they must be masters of manipulation. They have to understand the psyche of their targeted demographic and they have to know how to use their knowledge to make the people watching or reading the advertisement think that they simply cannot live without the product.
Create an Image
A favorite form of manipulation that most advertisement companies employ when they are creating an ad is the use of image. They take a look at their targeted demographic and try to determine what kind of image the group desires. The advertisement company then creates an advertisement that will hopefully fool the person watching the commercial into thinking that the product will give the consumer the image that they want.
The advertisement companies that created ads for various brands of cigarettes are famous for selling an image along with their product.
If an advertisement company wanted to sell cigarettes to teens and young adults, they would create an advertisement that conveyed the impression that smoking the cigarette would make the teenagers look cooler, more rebellious, and impossible for the opposite sex to resist. The company would do this by making sure the actors they would use in the advertisements wore great clothes, smiled, were doing something cool, and always had a pack of cigarettes nearby.
If the company wanted to sell cigarettes to bored, middle-aged housewives, they would make sure they created an advertisement that made it look like the cigarette was the key to unlocking their fantasies and escaping their boring lives.
If the company wanted the cigarettes to be bought by men, they would create an ad where the actor smoking the cigarette was a sexy hero who could handle any problem that might arise, provided they had a cigarette on hand at the time.
Improve on Reality
Beer commercials are the perfect examples of advertisements that improve upon reality. These types of advertisements take a basic fact – like the one that beer can help people relax and have a good time – and enhance it. They take such a theme and promptly add a couple of sexy people looking for a good time, or a sports icon sitting beside the beer drinker at the bar and striking up a conversation, or simply a wild party taking place.
What these types of advertisements don't show is the reality of the situation. They don't show that the attractive potential partner isn't nearly as attractive as when looked at through a pair of beer goggles, or that it is hard to respect a sports icon when they are sloppy drunk, or that most of those wild parties end with everyone passed out on the floor.
Sometimes, also movie trailers are a lot like beer commercials. They slice up the movie, editing it so that potential viewers only see the exciting, emotionally fraught, or sexy scenes. The movie teases with a hint of the story, toying with the viewers until they cannot wait to go to the theater and watch the entire movie. The only problem is that instead of the sexy spy thriller with a romantic twist that they were promised, they are watching a badly written movie that mixes a few kisses in with some bombs.
Some of the most bizarre advertisements are those that pull focus. These are the advertisements whose themes cannot be figured out until the very last frame, when the product is finally shown. Sometimes, the sight of the product suddenly makes the advertisement clear, but more often than not, the consumer is left wondering what the two things could possibly have in common. That is exactly what the advertisers hope for – that the consumers will think about the commercial and, by extension, the product, and the next time they are at the store and see the thing, they will simply pick it up and buy it.
As ludicrous as this pulling focus type of advertisement seems, it is actually quite effective.
This Product Will Change the World
The Apple Company got this type of advertising down to a fine art. They are now so skilled at convincing people that their newest gadget or gizmo is going to change the entire world, people are ready to pre-order the product before Apple has even unveiled the new creation. Apple has done such a good job talking a product up, explaining how the world of computers, internet, or cell phones will never be the same, that people don't care what it is. They need to have one – the sooner the better.
There is something about this type of advertisement that seems to make people feel they must have the product. It also triggers their sense of instant gratification. Not only do they need the revolutionary product, they need it right now. The consumers don't seem to care if the product is untested. They don't care that it will be cheaper in a few months. They don't even bother waiting for customer and consumer reviews. The change-the-world type of advertising actually seems to have the ability to cause people to temporarily lose their sanity and do things like start living in parking lots days before the product is even released to the general population.
The thing that consumers have to understand about advertisement is that it is designed to manipulate them. They have to look past the shiny advertisement and really check out the product. This means reading reports, considering their lifestyle, and being realistic about the usefulness of a product. Those who don't allow themselves to get swept up in the advertising mania can sit back and appreciate advertising for what it really is – cheap entertainment.