Down the Rabbit Hole- Insights into Advertising

27 Jan

Image Credits: Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland at Tea by Getty Images

From a course I took on NewsU, I became aware that whether we accept it or not, we are manipulated every day. Advertisements tempt us to buy, buy, buy, whether it is a movie ticket or a new car. The right hues, music, and actors can make you feel good about anything. So how do we not fall victim to the funny jingles and mascots, the enticing colors, and the celebrity endorsers? According to NewsU, by indentifying the technique behind these ploys.

Each message creates its own reality, in which milk will help launch you into celebrity status and owning a Hummer will get you to finally put that camping gear in your garage to good use. Certain ads are meant to ignite a spark in you that makes you want.

An example is the trailer for Tim Burton’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. The story isn’t new, but the mystifying effects of CGI are. So instead of highlighting the storyline of Alice in Wonderland, the trailer highlights the special effects. And, of course, it highlights the dark art and costume design that is uniquely Time Burton. The film promises a cutting-edge take on the story. The trailer also entices viewers with its dream-like quality.

Almost every ad has this “rabbit hole” effect, leading us into another world. The magic is not necessarily a trademark of film trailers.  It may come as a shock that ads from computers to anti-meth campaigns use the same technique as the Alice in Wonderland trailer. From my understanding and feeling of the course, there is an important lesson to be learned. To gain what is called media literacy (in other words, the ability to analyze the effective tactics of an ad ), there are three important elements that go into creating a persuasive ad to consider:

  1. Using the product is practical.

How many times have you heard the tagline “new and improved” in an infomercial? Advertisers get together and say, “If we say our products our new and improved, they will be irresistible!” Then they bump fists as our money pours in.  The idea also works conversely. An advertisement will say a product, such as cookware, will provide a result that is “just as your grandmother used to have it!” To top off the futuristic, or the nostalgic, appeal, they slash the price and throw in an additional item “Absolutely free!!!”

2. The product bears an emotional influence

These ads bring you back to the days when you were the odd-girl-out in the high school cafeteria. Deodorant, diet supplement, and car commercials instill in you the same fear and insecurities that you had at Homecoming. No one wants to relive high school, so you should analyze whether or not the anxieties the ads push are rational. Will no one show up at your party because you are not serving that special kind of chip? Will not buying a certain brand of gum really make your breath so bad that you could kill a field of wildflowers (or, you know, never get a date)? Unless you are totally against brushing your teeth and have really flaky friends, the ads should be left for awhile. These ads are sometimes humorous, but they can also instill realistic fears, such as in anti-smoking campaigns.

3. The company behind the product wants you to make associations

These ads are responsible for that warm and fuzzy feeling. They may feature scenes that remind you of something that makes you happy. They also work a different way by featuring the type of people that you love, beautiful people, and you will subconsciously want to model yourself after them or become the kind of person that would gain their approval. The person in the ad could be your favorite celebrity or just some random hottie. The association principle is why the Red Spice commercials were such a success.

So, the lesson is that ads are designed to be personally effective. When considering buying a product, also consider the tricks behind the commercials to avoid being adrift in an advertisement wonderland.

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