Everyone's heard of the saying, "There's a sucker is born every minute."
And that's probably the motto that advertisers use to con us out of our
hard-earned cash. But thanks to a couple of studies, you can beat them
at their own game by familiarizing yourself with these two common tricks
that advertisers use to fool you into believing anything they say.
The first approach is to get you freaked out about "your feared self," which is basically their way of making you panic over what would happen if you don't buy their product/brand:
In a surprising 2008 study, researchers at the University of Bath, UK, found that the fear of failure drives consumers far more than the promise of success; the latter oddly tends to paralyze us, while the former spurs us on (and pries open our wallets).
In fact, as the study found, the most powerful persuader of all was giving consumers a glimpse of some future “feared self.”
As Slate aptly pointed out, “Dove’s empowerment-via-shame marketing approach for Go Sleeveless has its roots in advertising techniques that gained popularity in the 1920s: a) pinpoint a problem, perhaps one consumers didn’t even know they had; b) exacerbate anxiety around the problem; c) sell the cure.” Among the many “feared selves” that have been historically planted by marketers, the article cites such concerns as “bad breath,” “smelly underarms,” and "the many troubles down there."
Once this "feared self" gets implanted into your psyche, the next thing is to associate said product/brand with achieving your "ideal self" i.e. celebrity worship:
...marketing strategies centered on celebrity do the exact opposite: they appeal to fantasies about our idealized future selves.
An interesting study carried out by researchers at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Canada’s University of Waterloo found that even fleeting exposure to an established brand—like Apple or Coke—can actually cause us to take on the behaviors championed or represented by those brands. For example, just being exposed to an Apple logo, a brand widely associated with creativity, made people think more imaginatively.
So, since celebrities are fabulous, can’t exposure to their brands cause some of that same fabulousness to rub off on us, too? There’s no question that slathering on a movie star–endorsed face cream, perfume, or eye shadow makes us feel that much closer to our favorite celebrity and everything about that celebrity we envy. We carry him or her with us all day. And in turn, we adopt his or her values and attributes, too—his or her swagger, attitude, talent, individuality, coolness, or allure. In short, in effect we become that celebrity—in the deeper recesses of our brains, at least.