The Way to the Customer's Heart
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Advertising is a means of creating awareness of a product in the market and persuading customers to buy that particular product. Various techniques are employed to draw customers to a particular product and away from others. More often than not, advertisers tend to glorify their product so much that they mislead the customer, and create illusions of what the product can do, but does not in real. In this paper I intend to research the various techniques used to project an illusion of the product to customers and how they can mislead customers into buying them.
Some of the common techniques used by advertisers are: Avante Garde, Facts & Figures, Weasel Words, Patriotism, Diversion, Transfer, Appeal to Plain Folks, Snob Appeal, Bribery, Testimonial, Wit and Humor, Simple Solutions, Card Stacking, Glittering Generalities and the Bandwagon approach (Advertising Techniques).
I have chosen an advertisement of “Teeter Hang Ups Inversion Tables” by ‘Better Health Innovations’. The advertisement sports a few images of the product and its intended usage, and also claims to be proven to relieve back pain. Two offers occupy a significant portion of the advertisement. The advertisement and the techniques used are detailed below-
This particular advertisement employs the following techniques:
v “Proven to relieve back pain” – Weasel Words, Card Stacking, Simple Solutions, Plain Folks.
v “Buy Today for FREE SHIPPING and Best Price GUARANTEE” – Bribery, Diversion, Bandwagon.
v Images – Glittering Generality, Diversion.
The used techniques are effective in certain ways. The advertisement speaks about providing relief from pain, which can help any customer suffering from a nagging back ache. The product comes with two offers: free shipping and the best price guarantee. Customers always look for the best deal they can get; this will attract a section of shoppers who wait for deals like these to make purchases. The images speak for the product and show how it might help to relieve back ache. It also looks simple and easy to use, the factors that will draw more votes.
The advertisement is trying to sell a simple machine that helps customers to relieve backache. From the pictures it is evident that the product works by facilitating stretches that flex the muscles in the back. The main emotions that it plays on are “comfort” and “relief”. The pictures also project simplicity.
These effective techniques tend to exploit the customer in a few ways. The pictures and the text speak only about the positive aspects of the product (Card Stacking). Weasel words are just used to “project” a positive image of the product without actually making any promises (Advertising Techniques). There could be limitations for certain age groups and for people suffering from certain illnesses. Also, the “relief from pain” can depend on the health condition of a particular customer. A person suffering from chronic back pain will not experience the same relief as a person suffering from posture related back pain. The offers are just a form of bribery and create a sense of urgency, making customer buy the product without wasting much time on thinking if it would be useful for him/her. The offers also tend to divert the customer’s attention from the product to the value for money portrayed by the advertisement.
Hence, the advertisement comes across as unethical, taking into consideration the health condition of customers. The advertisement indicates the era of commercialization of health. Another similar advertisement is “Barry’s Boot Camp”, a couple of CDs that claim to be “Hollywood’s Secret Weapon to getting in shape fast” in less than 60 seconds at a time. The CDs would feature instructions from Hollywood’s trainer to the stars. This advertisement (also attached) screams for attention from every corner of it. There is an unsparing usage of weasel words. The images are relevant and persuading. The use of the term “Hollywood” gives it that required magic ingredient.This advertisement seems to use all techniques of advertising and is another example of commercialization of health.
William Lutz, the author of With These Words I Can Sell You Anything, advises customers to look out for the “techniques” of advertising and make informed decisions. According to him, only when customers begin to understand the doublespeak involved in advertising and analyze what they actually say and what they do not. Customers who have developed strong critical reading, listening and looking abilities are secure against false promises and rash decisions.