Wednesday, March 29, 2006

AMAZING SECRET MAGIC MIRACLE! Or: How To Unplug The Effects Of Advertising

If you are older than 21, you have seen over one million TV ads. If you are under fifty years old, you have been exposed to these since birth. You have become accustomed to advertising even before you could speak. In a word you have been programmed.

So to deprogram you, I will have to resort to extreme measures. And I apologize for this, but hypnosis may be the only way to unplug the effects of advertising.

Look into my eyes: You are getting very sleeping. Soon you will hear only the sound of my voice. Now this is my message: when you hear the words 'amazing', 'secret', 'magic' or 'miracle' in an advertisement you will not be swayed. These words will have no effect on your buying decision. Instead you will make a rational carefully considered purchase. When I count to three you will wake up. One, two, three. Now you have been deprogrammed.

Why did I pick on these particular words: amazing, secret, magic and miracle? For a variety of reasons.

First, they are used frequently in TV ads. For example, I heard them in an advertisement for a new hi-tech coffee maker. A bit later I saw a commercial for a new diet system with these same words sprinkled throughout.

Second, these words are emotional. They evoke a sense of wonder. They take us back to a childhood frame of mind where we are less critical and more trusting. They go below our rational radar and hit us in that part of the brain where childhood feelings still lurk. In addition these words relate to the actual practice of magic which most adults claim they do not believe. Yet as we know from ads for Disney World, the word 'magic' has a powerful appeal taking us back to a playful, happier and simpler time. I am talking about Disney slogans such as 'the magic kingdom' and 'Discover The Magic'.

Third, these words have no legal meaning. This is important because ads cannot misrepresent products and services. So vague emotive words are perfect for the art of persuasion.

Other ubiquitous words and phrases in advertising are: 'can help' and 'you'.

'Can help' is fabulous because it sounds really good but is worthless. Everyone likes to be helped and a product that assists evokes a sense of trust. For example, you might see ad copy that says, "This facial cosmetic can help a woman look younger and feel more confident."

Last is the word 'you'. If there is any word that is overworked it is this. Unfortunately in English, the word 'you' is the same in singular and plural and is used as an address to someone you know well and to someone you barely know. This is not true in other languages such as Spanish and French. So the word 'you' has become a bonanza for commercials in English.

For example, when you see an ad for that new miracle coffee maker, there will be a brief introduction explaining the product's features but then the pitch will quickly change to, "in the morning when you make your cup of coffee with your new amazing coffee maker..." By using the word 'you' over and over, the advertisement gives the impression that you already own this gadget or have made a decision to buy. This is because advertisers want you to identify with the product immediately and to think of it as part of your life and who you are.

"Buying this amazing secret magic miracle coffee maker will help you become happier, more confident and your neighbors will envy you." So why not? Call that toll free number right now, don't wait. It is a limited offer. Hurry, hurry, hurry.

But wait a minute! If you read this article from the beginning, advertisements such as this have stopped working. You have been deprogrammed and these ads can no long cast their magic spell.


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