How Do Advertisers Manipulate People?

Advertisers use many strategies to manipulate consumers, including emotional appeals, advertisements disguised as entertainment and appeals to fears or insecurity. As advertising strategies become increasingly sophisticated, consumers can resist deceptive or manipulative ad practices by becoming more aware of them.

Advertisers frequently emphasize the emotions that products elicit rather than the products' actual qualities. Many ads aim for an emotional response that dissuades consumers from thinking about the product’s value or functionality. Ads may depict common scenarios that viewers can relate to or remember, such as a first date or the birth of a child, in order to increase the level of emotional engagement with a product.

Ads also increasingly masquerade as entertainment, offering humorous narratives in order to draw consumers in. Clever writing, cutesy mascots and unconventional narrative strategies can all help engage consumers, making them more likely to remember a product. Many companies selling unhealthy products, such as beer or candy bars, use humor to distract consumers from the negative aspects of these items.

Finally, advertisers create desire for products by preying on consumers’ fears. Cleaning products and hand-soap companies, for example, often market their products aggressively during times of mass illness. Often, these products do nothing to defend against illness, but the ads play on people’s fears, leading them to believe that the items are effective.