Surviving Human Nature

Some Topics

Advertising

One way to control the public mind is to use mass media to persuade entire populations to think and behave in specific ways. You could argue that the knowledge and skills used by good advertising agencies are the same tools of used by political propagandists. In the best case, advertising is more benevolent, designed to entertain, inform and motivate you to purchase a product. In an even better case, the skills of advertising can be used to persuade citizens to behave in a more constructive manner, improve their heath and to treat others with more kindness and concern. In the worse case, advertising is intrusive, dishonest and devious. In any case, good advertising works to sell products, just as skillful propaganda can turn lies into public policy. Since most citizens of affluent countries are tuned into multimedia every day, advertising and propaganda are pervasive influences determining their beliefs and behavior.

Marketing consultant Jerry Bader stated:" Great advertising isn't real, it's hyper-real: hyperrealism is a communication approach that generates desire and motivates action by presenting a stylized version of reality through a focused perspective. Reality is messy and confused; hyper-reality is concentrated and clear, and when it comes to marketing messages, concentrated and clear is the goal."

Bader described the human tendency to copy what others are doing and saying. He compared copying to cloning in US marketing practice. He stated:" somebody makes a profitable movie about vampires, and the next thing you know we're all inundated with movies, television shows, books, blogs, websites, and every form of blood-sucking permutation you can imagine." Every successful product, brand or advertising message is copying many times. Bader suggested:" Most of the copycats fail because the clone-masters behind them don't understand why the original worked, and as a consequence, they clone all the wrong elements. Clone marketing is just rote copying of technical elements without any reference to why the original worked, whereas Slipstream marketing takes a familiar idea and plays off it like a great jazz musician reinterprets an old standard.

"An example was Kimberly Clark's success at branding a commodity, facial tissue, as Kleenex. They recognized the need to transform their commodity product into something of higher value by showing an emotional connection between the product and the consumer. Their Let It Out video commercials featured an interviewer who asked people to sit down on a couch in the middle of a busy street to describe a meaningful moment in their lives. People cried, and people laughed, until tears came to their eyes, at which point, the interviewer handed each person a Kleenex along with a memorable music message. Kleenex became the most successful brand name and eventually became the generic name for all facial tissues."

In an ideal world, commercial advertising would not exist. In Canada, a Canadian broadcast corporation continued with advertising-free radio. As I child I tuned into their programs and grew used to commercial-free CBC FM broadcasts that featured classical music, jazz, radio plays and educational radio essays. To this day, I have little tolerance for commercial radio or television broadcasting. In an ideal world, marketing products and services would never intrude on a citizen’s privacy and never be pushed by media without the consent of the listener-viewer.


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    The author is Stephen Gislason MD. The date of publication is 2017.

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