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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

Tricks in advertising

June 28, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

Let's face it, folks, there's only one reason for advertising, either legally or through shady subterfuge: To separate you from your money.

Cigarette companies and cola drinks or beer are good examples of how advertising uses repetition to sell competitive products that are more or less the same. They use tiresome repetition, over and over again, to stamp the image hard in your mind, irritating you to no end, to make you reach for that item and automatically as the "irritation factor" goes to work. Tired of those smarmy Brits with the smug Cockney accents? Don't buy what they're drumming into your head; simply laugh at them, then make your choice logically.

Getting on the bandwagon is a clever ploy. "Everybody's doing it." "Join the millions of smart buyers." This technique is in continuous use, especially in changing styles (read that as fads). Make-up, clothing, attitudes, even electronics - all are sold with built-in temporariness to make it easier to sell what's next as the ads proclaim that "everyone's" using it.

Scarcity is a great marketing tool. It warns of limited amounts or limited time to purchase the amounts even when no such scarcity exists. It urges us to buy QUICKLY, before it's "too late." The warning pushes us into immediate action.

Watch out for reciprocity. Getting something "free" - a nibble on a new food product, a free issue of a magazine, a month of a specially priced trial for a satellite network - whatever - anything to arouse guilt feelings - and you're hooked.

The use of "authority" involves getting a prospective customer to believe that someone who is knowledgeable or famous uses or strongly approves of a product. "The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture endorses the use of this insecticide." "Dentists urge you to try this toothpaste." "Lady Gaga loves this canned food." Don't let a white coat and head mirror fool you into thinking you are listening to an authoritative voice.

Greed is another device for selling something. It takes advantage of people's belief that there is a shortcut to success. A chain letter, a lottery or casino appeals to our greedy side and we go where no honest-thinking person who examines the odds would tread. We translate "win a million dollars" into "get a million dollars." Greed also rushes us into business opportunity scams, investing in schemes guaranteed to make us rich easily and quickly. If an anonymous phone call promises you a pot of gold, hang up.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. Read between the lines of any offer that sounds too good to be true - it usually IS too good to be true. Instead of leaping into the unknown, do some careful checking. What's NOT said in an ad is often the difference between honesty and the discovery that the product is loaded with reasons not to buy. The pictured camera looks wonderful, and so do the photos demonstrating its use. But a camera possesses dozens of intricate parts besides those touted. Puffery concentrates on only the positive and conceals the rest. Again, check before paying out good money for what might not be what you hoped for.

Be especially alert to ads that, first, arouse personal fears, then, second, offers a quick fix to eliminate them. If there's actually something radically wrong, seek an authority, not a snake-oil quack.

Sex sells! A new car is more enticing with a cute model in the picture. Cosmetics promise allure as well, and so do bodies-to-dream-of as they exercise effortlessly on gym machines. Settings are important, too; bedrooms open the door to more sexual suggestion than kitchens (unless the significant other is present).

Last but not least are the appeals to self. In today's ego-centric society, we fall too easily into purchasing something when a voice lures: "Pamper yourself," or when it says "you deserve it." Oh?Why?

A wise consumer is always alert. Caveat emptor!

Rotten Tomatoes average: "Brave," B-



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