Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Propaganda in Advertisements By Kaye Langit-Luistro

Amid the Christmas rush last year, teens in particular were in a frantic mode to buy Close Up toothpaste, not because they want whiter, stronger teeth, and fresher breath, but to have the compilation CD of their favorite bands like Itchy worms, Spongecola and Orange and Lemons, among others, with every purchase of the 160 gram sized toothpaste.

Called the “power of persuasion,” people are lured to buy a particular brand of toothpaste, perhaps even the flavor they are not used to, in gigantic size, not entirely because of the product, but because for P75, you have 5 of your favorite band songs right under your fingertips. In the Philippines, corporations spend billions of pesos in advertising to condition the five senses, in purchasing products, that consumers may not actually need.

Here are four interesting elements present in most advertisements, making you hopelessly in love with a particular product, you would have otherwise ignored, if you haven’t seen it in the latest TV commercial.

1. Perfectly gorgeous models.
Models in shampoo, lotion and soap commercials are always better looking than average consumers; conveying the idea that when you use a particular brand, you will end up looking like these models. Clearly far-out, but subliminally, you believe that “your hair will be silky, wave-free, and will shine with life” just like KC Conception’s, when you use her brand of shampoo with virgin coconut oil. At least, that’s just shampoo we are talking about.

What if the ads prey on the females’ fixation on perfect hair, by suggesting you need a three-step program of a certain brand of shampoo, with matching nourishing conditioner and leave-on to make your brown or burgundy tones “come alive with stunning vibrancy and shine!” Their running ad I think is “Why follow, when you can lead…learn to stand out in the crowd?”

2. Heartwarming spin paired with a memorable song.
Remember the song “True Colors,” originally popularized by Cyndi Lauper? This time imagine the following lyrics being sung by children:

“You with the sad eyes
Enters a close-up of a child, forlorn, unsmiling, with the corresponding tug line: not happy with her skin color. More close-ups of children from varied ethnicity fill the screen with lines: not happy with her smile; her height; her small eyes, while the rest of the song still runs:
Don't be discouraged
Oh I realize
It's hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small.”
“But I see your true colors
When you hear this part, the whole ambience changes; the next child now smiles sweetly, with a more positive line perhaps like: A colored kid can still shine! Smiling kids with positive comments fill the screen until the end of the chorus:
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow.”

This is not make-believe; rather it is the commercial splashed on our TV screens a few years back. Dubbed  “The ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, now in its fourth year for Unilever's flagship brand,” writes Randall Rothenberg, author, journalist, and president-CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, “celebrates actual women of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors.” He adds, “although it derives from Dove's historic positioning around authenticity, this spin has been credited with boosting Dove sales and share in every country in which it's been launched.” To simply put it, we are drawn irrevocably to products that make us feel good, not just look good!

Here's the commercial in discussion.

3. Latest, most innovative technology.
Ads love to tickle the consumer’s insatiable fetish for the latest in communication technology: Celfones, I-pods, smartfones, computers, cameras, MP3, MP4, and PDA’s. When you discover the latest celfone with better resolution and features, the average young professional (yuppie), makes it his goal to have it, forsaking more pressing matters like bills and other payments. Somehow the public have made billions of pesos for telecommunications companies for the past several years, thanks to innovative advertisements.

The message is cunningly manipulative: “If you want to be in the ‘in crowd,’ you must have the latest model no matter what.” Some may argue of course that subliminal messages such as this is just a marketing strategy and shouldn't be taken seriously.

4. Star Magic.
Ben Chan, owner of BENCH, and The Face Shop certainly knew how to start 2007 with a bang, when he brought Kwan Sang Woo, more popularly known for his alter ego “Cholo” in the Korean TV Drama “Stairway to Heaven,” to the Philippines just to promote the store. The promo: A purchase of any product from The Face Shop entitles you to a pass for the “Meet and Greet.” Chan opted to splash the Korean Star’s face on every billboard in Metro Manila and every mall branch, as a promotional vehicle to lure fans, particularly females, into buying The Face Shop.

Trends in store promotions have definitely skyrocketed! Even Hollywood stars like Kate Hudson, Natalie Portman and Alicia Silverstone have become image models for the local boutique Kamiseta.

There is really nothing wrong with buying hair and body care products, celfones and clothes, because you need them, they are of high-quality and perfect for your budget. The problem arises when you measure yourself against these products, and view yourself as inferior just because you can’t buy them.

Lyrics True Colors.
Dove Effort Gives Package-Goods Marketers Lessons for the Future Four Points to Learn From 'Real Beauty' Campaign By Randall Rothenberg
Comprehensive Study of Asian Women’s Attitudes.§io

This article appeared in the 2007 edition of Magica Magazine, a High Reference Material published by the Diwa Publishing Group.
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