We just say the opposite of what we represent and people will buy our products!

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I’m amazed by the apparant success of advertisting campaigns that are completely incompatible with the product being sold. I’m not talking about ads that seem to have nothing to do with the product (eg. those ones that consist of unrelated overtly sexually imagery accompanying a product logo), I’m talking about campaigns that read like serious cases of self-denial.

Take the “campaign for real beauty” from beauty products manufacturer Dove. What are they saying? You’re beautiful, but still buy our Natural Glow and hair care products? That’s totally insane! How can people take it seriously? Who buys beauty products when they are entirely happy with how they look?

And then there’s McDonald’s recent focus on presenting a healthy lifestyle full of nutrition and exercise. What do french fries and soft drinks have to do with a healthy lifestyle? Sure they have introduced some “healthy options” to their menu, but who goes to McDonald’s to buy a salad?

Normally, I’d think “you can’t be serious, no one would actually believe these campaigns“, but they seem to be working. So who are these campaigns appealing to? I think Dove is selling to people who previously figured that they were too unattractive to bother trying. They’re are now presented with a redefined version of beauty that they can acheive (if they buy the right products)!

What about McDonald’s? They want to convince people that going to eat at their restaurants isn’t necessarily unhealthy. They want to impart a feeling that they know all about health and are personally concerned for your well-being. You can have the peace of mind to walk in knowing that you could get something healthy, but chances are you’ll walk out with a quarter pounder with cheese meal. Upsized.

Note: I like what Max Barry had to say about McDonald’s “make up your own mind” campaign:

Their argument seems to be that if you’re smart, you’ll ignore the overwhelming body of evidence that says their product is dangerous, and instead reach an independent conclusion based on their promotional web site.

The word “condescending” springs to mind.

2 thoughts on “We just say the opposite of what we represent and people will buy our products!”

  1. Does anyone out there ever see an ad and _not_ think “Every time I buy that product I’m paying for them to produce these ads. Think I’ll spend my money on their competitor who invested in making a higher-quality product instead.”

    That seems the only rational reaction, so it’s fair to say that advertising is aimed solely at the irrational. Once you realise that, this sort of thing is hardly a surprise.

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