I’ve been looking at advertising as a researcher for a number of years now. Enough years that I’d rather not say how many. So, it would be easy to think that – because I know the tricks of the trade – I’m immune from advertising, that I can’t be fooled by its wiles.
Fortunately, that is just not true.
I had this brought home to me over the weekend. I saw an advert on Friday that definitely influenced me to buy a product at the supermarket on Saturday. A choice which, to be honest, I am entirely regretting now. In fact, I should have known when I stood in front of the shelf thinking to myself, the actual product quality doesn’t look so hot, compared to some of the other items on offer, but I really liked the advert…
And so, I bought it anyway, never mind exactly what it was. All that matters is that I’m obviously in the target and the advert did a fantastic job of compelling me to buy the product, which luckily for me, did not set me back too much. The advert worked because the makers knew just what strings to pull.
But I don’t think this is a bad thing. Advertising is a fascinating study in human psychology of course, but it is also a major contributor to the economy at large. If advertising could not convince people to buy things that they do not need and to create desire, then we would have an even bigger problem with pumping money into the economy. It is also an excellent outlet for creativity, for what is more incredible than the power of a mini-film or a piece of artwork displayed in poster or magazine format, which not only looks good but makes you do something?
And, after all, if we can’t be seduced by advertising ourselves, how can we possibly expect it to work on the world at large? David Ogilvy had it all wrong: the consumer isn’t your wife.
The consumer is you.
Tara Beard-Knowland is a director in Ipsos ASI and wrote this blog for Campaign Magazine.