“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” ~ Mark Twain, from “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”
Remember the commercial comparing thick and thin with a close up image of a pearl dropping through two comparative liquid shampoos? Do you know what makes shampoo (and all liquid soaps and detergents) thick instead of watery thin? Solids–the cheapest of which is SALT. It was also the biggest trick when the janitorial industry started measuring the percent of solids instead of just buying by the gallon.
Need more gallons? Add more water. Need more solids? Add more salt. All you have to do is keep an eye out for that mere 5% of the population that’s even borderline scientifically literate. The other 95% will (and do) buy almost anything if you make the commercial sexy enough.
Consider how these three concepts can become primary illusions that will convince most people to buy. And while you are thinking about it, also imagine a corollary to the delusional motivation behind mass murderers and serial killers as well. To some degree, they feel their actions, or their acquisition(s) of product(s) will somehow help them to become:
The intent of all advertising (also true for all propaganda) is perception management. To accomplish that, the message must allude to the hope that the (product or behavior) will not only make them so, but also make them appear to be so in the eyes of others as well (therefore, “cool”, or especially so not to be “uncool”).
So, there is that subtle hook to be aware of–not just what a person wants, but particularly mindful of what they don’t want. And that is done by planting the idea that buying the competitor’s product can cause you to become (or remain) insignificant, unworthy, or that something important to you might be or become unsafe.
I think it fair to point out that “safe” is often just as important (in some cases, much more so) to people about their ideologies and beliefs as it is about themselves or their loved ones’ personal safety. If a person doesn’t feel their beliefs to be secure and correct, a self perception of “significant and worthy” would be difficult to maintain. People will kill thinking they are protecting what they believe.
We may very well be hard wired somehow to be drawn to this kind of thinking–perhaps some evolutionary pattern of survival being threatened by becoming insignificant, unworthy, and of course, unsafe. If ideologies and beliefs were not tied to these values, think about how difficult it might be to convince human beings to participate in wars. By war, I’m not talking about an individually dominant person standing in the face of adversity, I’m talking about armies organized to march against other armies–navies against navies.
(Some dialogue taken from the movie “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”)
Capt. Jack Aubrey: “Do you want to see a guillotine in Piccadilly?”
Capt. Jack Aubrey: “Want to call that raggedy-ass Napoleon your king?”
Capt. Jack Aubrey: “You want your children to sing the ‘La Marseillaise?’ “
Imagine a study of some people watching the following commercial message. Do you think the initial responses of all the observers would very favorable towards the product? If you say yes, you would most likely be correct. But consider a possible interesting twist in the way men and women might respond differently:
How many of you believe women leaned toward the idea of being safe? How many think men would be cognizant of a desire to not be unworthy–thus risking some significant reward for being worthy?
In other words, how might the female passenger in the car behave later towards the man who avoided running over the squirrel? Without this possible difference being pointed out, how many women would think there is nothing sexy about this commercial?
It’s a sporty car (of course). The desired effect for being seen driving a sporty car is to be seen as having sex appeal. Look at the headlights and grill of this (and practically all cars)–see the “death’s head” or skull face? Most people cannot begin to verbalize the subtle erotic sensations associated with it, as they are usually very suppressed. And finally, listen to the closing words: