Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Be Aware of Advertising
Tip #226 - Be Aware of Advertising. On a daily basis most of us are barraged with messages to separate our money from our pocketbook. Very few people are immune to advertising unless they live in a cave or in the wild. We often think of advertising as television commercials or ads in magazines. But it goes much further than that. It permeates nearly every aspect of our American culture. If you visit nearly any web page on the computer, there are usually ads decorating the border of the page. When you pull down a box of cereal from the cabinet in the morning, there is an ad right on the front. Turn on your cell phone and you see the name of the cell service you are affiliated with. The toothpaste you use makes claims about itself right on the tube. If you take public transportation to work, there are ads all over the buses and subway trains. From your car you might see ads on billboards or on buses. Many supermarkets have ads on their floors. Sports arenas have ads all over their fields. In your mail, you probably get advertisements almost every day.
What do all of these advertisements have in common? They are all trying to convince you that you need to buy their product or service. The message may be subtle or it may be direct. It may be mostly truthful or quite exaggerated. But either way, companies advertise so that you will spend your money on their product.
Many people think they are not influenced by advertising, but in reality there are probably very few who are not affected. A jingle gets caught in your head. A commercial on television shows an appetizing snack. A billboard presents a scene of two people relaxing in the sun on a beach. How can one not be drawn into any of these? The fact is most of us are, to some extent. Why? Because advertisers are good at what they do. They know how to make us want their product by presenting pretty scenes, luscious food pictures, or catchy tunes. And when they draw us in, we spend money on what they are selling.
There isn’t anything wrong with spending our money. After all, we all need to buy things. We need food to eat, clothes to wear, and a way to get to work. And we all want to have some fun, too. But we don’t have to buy everything that appeals to us – food that looks good, cars that sound glamorous, or trips that look exotic. In fact, just by being aware that we are influenced by advertising may help us cut down on spending money on the product or service they promote. If you weren’t craving french fries before you saw the oversized billboard of McDonald’s fries, then don’t stop on your way home to buy some. You need your money more than McDonald’s does. If you were not planning a trip to Cancun before you saw a great deal on a website, then don’t plan one now. If you are not in the market for a new car, then don’t be dazzled by the features shown on a television commercial for the new line of sports cars.
Be aware that most of these ads are designed so that you will spend YOUR money on their product. They are not public service announcements. Just by realizing that you are susceptible to their advertising will cause you to pay attention to what you are doing and may lessen the chances that you will succumb to the products that are promoted.
In Real Life (IRL) – "Way back when" I took a marketing class as part of my business major in college. I remember one particular message our professor told us and that was that people who think they are least likely to be influenced by advertising are actually the most influenced. I don’t know what facts or statistics he had to back it up. And I really don’t know if it’s true or not. But what I do know is that whether or not we think it, we are all influenced by advertising. And there is more of it around us than we realize. There is so much advertising permeating our lives, that I think it is one of the reasons that people have trouble putting away money. Because subconsciously advertisers from all directions are trying to get us to buy their products. And we are letting them because we are comfortable with advertisers doing this. After all, advertising is almost everywhere.
I realize that I am susceptible to the genius behind advertising. Pictures of families playing in Disney World may stay in my mind for months until I start planning our next vacation there. Pictures of hot fudge sundaes may have me running out at night to buy into my newfound craving. But many times, I just ignore what the ad is trying to sell me. I tell myself that I am not interested, and that I do not need the product. And the bottom line is, if it is not in my budget I usually do not buy it. That doesn’t mean Disney might not influence me to spend my budget money there rather than at the beach where I originally planned. Or that I won’t go out to eat at McDonald’s instead of Wendy’s. But I won’t start buying things that I do not have plans for. How much does advertising affect you? How do you think you can cut down on being influenced?