Are We Too Smart for Ad Campaigns?

Are We Too Smart for Ad Campaigns?

"Just Do it" is the simple but daring advertisement slogan of the shoe apparel company Nike. We have been going out and "Just doing it" for decades now. Business statistics and revenue numbers attest to this fact. So why are we so reluctant to admit that advertisements work? Or rather, quick to claim that we are not affected or persuaded by ads. Nike's catchy yet convincing ad campaign is one of many that are etched in our memory. "Can you hear me now" by Verizon, "for everything else, there's MasterCard" by MasterCard and "once you pop you can't stop" by Pringles are some of the examples.Not all ads are by manufacturers trying to sell their products or businesses their services. Ads are also used by government agencies to bring awareness to the community. For instance "Get your flu vaccine" plastered above a subway window urging you to get vaccinated. Even positive health messages are often met with skepticism and a sense of "I'm not falling for this." So why do we think we are too smart for advertisements?

The Third-Person Effect of Ad Campaigns

W. Phillips Davidson, a Journalism and sociology professor at Columbia University has studied the notion of the third-person effect extensively. According to his findings, A person exposed to a persuasive communication in the mass media sees this as having a greater effect on others than on himself or herself. Each individual reasons: “I will not be influenced, but they (the third persons) may well be persuaded.” In some cases, a communication leads to action, not because of its impact on those to whom it is ostensibly directed, but because others (third persons) think that it will have an impact on its audience.

Successful Ads Are Engaging

Successful advertising rarely succeeds through argument or calls to action. Instead, it creates positive memories and feelings that influence our behavior over time to encourage us to buy something at a later date. No one likes to think that they are easily influenced. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that we respond negatively to naked attempts at persuasion.

Some imagine a debate between two groups. The first group believes in raw persuasion. Its focus is on crafting a compelling argument that will encourage you, with the delivery of "new news," to buy something right away. The second group believes in the power of engagement. Its focus is on creating a positive experience that will influence you over the longer-term. Here, the objective is to seed positive ideas and memories that will attract you to the brand.

So even though you may believe that you are not influenced by an ad immediately, you may be in the long term. I'll admit it, Michael Jordan didn't have to persuade me much...I wanted to be like "Mike" who didn't?

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