I WAS practically salivating as I watched the television.
This was the best viewing I’d had in years; I felt alive, excited, I knew that I wanted it and needed it more than I had craved anything in my life. I speak of the H20 Mop 5-in-1 steam cleaner. This wasn’t just any steamer it came with an array of accessories, how exciting is that? As I watched the device glide across a filthy floor, then power blast an oven, clean windows and even steam clothing I could see myself using it to clean my house to within an inch of its life. Finally, I would be the person I‘d always dreamed of being, a clean person, reaching standards of hygiene I could only have dreamed of before. I wanted it, I needed, I had to have it! I enjoyed the commercial so much that while changing channels I found it showing again and sat mesmerized for a second time, devouring with my brain every millisecond of all this fabulous cleaning implement was capable of. It was as though I were in a trance. I even found the commercial on Youtube where it had been viewed 41,000 times! There were also videos of ‘real people’ cleaning with the device watched 46,000 times by perspective buyers. Like myself, they had obviously felt themselves in the grip of the steamer’s powerful advertising campaign. Comments had been posted below the advert claiming they had felt hypnotized by this ad, one person had even dreamt about it! The woman standing beside the demonstrator was practically having an aneurysm over how fabulous it was, I got excited by her excitement! Then I read a couple of bad reviews beneath the videos from those who’d bought it and been less than pleased. How can it not be all they claimed, I marveled? I had seen it on TV cutting through the dirt with my own eyes? Somehow I resisted buying it, but it wasn’t easy, the urge to posses such a fabulous cleaning implement was almost overwhelming.
This wasn’t the first time I’d been overcome with the urge to acquire whatever I see in magazines, on the net or on television. The lyrics from the Wham song: ’Everything she wants is everything she sees’ often run through my head when I’m in a buying frenzy.
Advertising is an incredibly powerful tool; it’s used to influence us in many ways. Advertisers attack our senses particularly the eyes, nose and ears. Eighty-three per cent of marketing budgets focus on our eyes, though if advertisers can stimulate two senses a brand increases by 30 per cent, rising to 70 per cent when all three senses are stimulated. The sense of smell has a direct connection to our emotional brain unlike the other senses. A US company called Inscentivation own an aroma that increases betting on slot machines in casinos by 45 per cent. Bodywise, a UK company, treats its bills with an odour that makes them 17 per cent more likely to be paid. Who knew our noses could be so persuasive?
Our senses are constantly being assaulted by advertisers and we’re not even aware of it. Take strolling around the supermarket. If slow music is played as we cruise the aisles people tend to browse more slowly and look at the products, the result is they spend 10-20 per cent more.
My six-year-old son has persuaded me to buy two different breakfast cereals in the past week due to the power of TV adverts, simply because he thinks one is going to make him tougher and the other will be doing the backstroke in his milk, he doesn’t like the taste of either one!
I exhibit the same vulnerability when I flick through the glossy magazines and surcome to buying yet more cosmetics that sell me the promise of eternal youth. I’ve bought three different foundations in the past two weeks in my endless search for a youthful, dewy complexion. I look at beautiful pictures of models and celebrities flogging the latest products for cosmetic giants and even though I know most of the girls in the pictures don’t really look like that, I still want to try and buy the dream they are selling of a perfect complexion and huge fluttering eyelashes. Maybe just maybe, it might work for me. But evidence proves otherwise as a recent advert featuring actress Natalie Portman promoting a Christian Dior mascara was banned by an advertising watchdog for being airbrushed which misleadingly exaggerated the effects of the product. The company then admitted that Portman’s eyelashes had been digitally enhanced using Photoshop. Earlier this year a L’Oreal ad for an anti- wrinkle cream featuring actress Rachel Weisz was also banned for being digitally enhanced. Last year adverts featuring actress Julia Roberts and model Christy Turlington were also found to be given the same digital enhancement. In the world of advertising everything isn’t always as it seems!
Advertisers are no longer content that the planet Earth is a large enough customer base for them as adverts are taken to the final frontier, space! A British advert for Doritos crisps was broadcast in 2008 to a star called Ursa Major 42 light years away from Earth. More advertising in outer space is being explored.
Maybe the current advertising campaign with blue aliens shopping in Argos isn’t as far fetched as we thought. What if a mothership lands in search of Doritos! Maybe aliens really do love underpants (from M&S). We could soon see the day when orbital billboards visible from Earth pop up as intrepid advertisers look for a universal audience and marketing goes intergalactic. As Mr Spock might say: ‘Its advertising, but not as we know it.”