Thursday, 12 November 2015

Emotion and Advertising

by Alfie Perry-Ward

As we draw into the seasonal period of Christmas, one has probably gotten used to the bombardment of advertising of goods and presents. It is very interesting for there to be, in  something so  consumerist such as TV adverts, a huge amount of emotional content. It is, of course, the emotional content which makes advertising so effective. Using genuine emotion that resonates with a viewer is a universally employed method in advertising. An obvious example could be last years Sainsbury's WW1 Christmas advert. Until the words "Christmas is for Sharing" appeared on the screen, I was under the assumption that it's was a Drama series of some sort. Sainsbury's found it necessary to tap into themes of unification and love in order to convince the viewers that the solution to achieving these things is to, essentially, buy Chocolate. The advert, which has recently hit 17 million views on YOUTUBE, was undoubtedly an incredibly moving piece of film, skilfully crafted and from an theatrical perspective, considerably poignant. This, perhaps, is what is so infuriating about the fact that the ultimate purpose of the advert was to drive people into Sainsbury's during the seasonal period. Therefore, we should fundamentally be questioning the right to use the exploitation of emotions as a manipulative tool in order to generate capital.

We must first understand that exploiting ones emotions for a certain cause is nothing new. Effective propaganda has always relied on emotional messages; with regards to the WW1 advert, many soldiers who fought in both world wars did so with a sense of duty perpetuated by propaganda posters. This is no different to what Corporations are trying to achieve in the endless game of commercialism. Yet, instead of convincing you that fighting a war is absolutely necessary, the ultimate objective is convincing you that buying a product, using a service and generally spending money is vital to your existence. One will notice that brands and Corporations, rather than selling you a product, will try to sell you a lifestyle. Whether it be Cologne which makes you a total womaniser, drinking Coke which gives you a young and active persona, or using apple products which makes you free-thinking, intellectual and global minded, the trend is such a prevalent feature in advertising. By tapping in to your emotional desire, these companies have managed to associate a product with a completely unrelated lifestyle and thus attempts to inform you that these products will achieve this lifestyle.

Surely anyone can see the utter stupidity of these advertisements. In retrospect, it is no wonder that it works so well because humans are incredibly emotional creatures with incredibly complex emotional intelligence. Therefore, when something resonates with us it is inevitable that we should be drawn to such a thing. Corporations understand this just as well as anyone, but  instead of utilising it for the good of humanity they choose to exploit it as a format to push for consumerism. Although this is an insidious exploitation of human emotion, it is incredibly easy to see through these misuses and not be succumb to the emotional game that corporations like to play. 

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