How Do Advertisements Persuade People?

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Advertisers use a variety of persuasion techniques to convince people to buy products and services, vote for political candidates or donate to nonprofit organizations. Basic persuasive techniques employed in advertising include association, bribery, fear, explicit claims and repetition.

Association is one of the most basic techniques used in advertising. Advertisers use this technique to attempt to link a product or service to something the target audience considers desirable. An advertiser might appeal to the consumer’s desire for health, beauty, wealth or personal success, for example. Bribery refers to offering the consumer something in exchange for taking a desired action. Offering a free gift with purchase is an example of this persuasive technique.

Some advertisers use what they know about the fears of their target audience to promote certain products, ideas or services. When George W. Bush ran for re-election following the September 11 terrorist attacks, some of his advertisements used imagery from the attacks to capture attention. Advertisers also use explicit claims to convince people to buy their products and services. It is possible to prove existing claims via close examination or testing. If an advertiser says a product works in less than five minutes, this is an explicit claim. Repetition serves to reinforce a message in the minds of audience members. An advertiser may use this technique by running an ad several times or by using the same message several times in one advertisement.