If life were only so fluid. It's not, Life is flighty, choppy, meandering, incoherent. No one can ever really know what the other person desires, because the other person's desires are protean, which is why just any ole product or service is hardly assured to sell if only advertised any ole way to any ole consumer.
The offended bloviator sees it otherwise. Life is fluid. It's ossified and linear in their jaundiced eyes. Life can be manipulated to another's advantage sans the benefit of coercion.
Lay commentators frequently bemoan advertising's manipulative nature. It lulls the unwary, like Siren and her song, into tranquilized bliss; thus, allowing the seller to sell whatever he wants in the quantity he wants. Who is so steely fortified to resist the refrain "when you've got nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, ..diarrehhhea"?
Nonsense, of course. Advertising is mostly ineffective. It falls on blind eyes and deaf ears. Five percent, if that, of advertising stimulates any response.
If you were to count the advertisements you encounter each day, the number could easily tally into the hundreds. Stroll through the aisles of any department or grocery store and the number could exceed a thousand (assuming packaging is a form of advertising, which it is.) Most times the number of items you buy, it you buy, you can count on one hand.
Advertisements are effective only when they strike a desire that the consumer already harbors. Whether the desire is innate, fomented, or learned is immaterial. The desire must already exist for the advertising to elicit a response. Otherwise, it's all dead air.
To wit, I am a fan of Formula 1 racing. The cars, are exotic, gorgeous, fast, loud, and intimidating. They stroke the male ego; they capture the observer's attention. Formula 1 cars are perfect advertising conduits.
Tobacco companies used to exploit the conduit like no other. Marlboro, Camel, West, Rothman's, Gauloises, Player's once dominated the grid. The liveries their respective marketing departments produced to envelop the cars with the company logo could be works of art.
The Marlboro brand was more conspicuous than most. The Marlboro McLaren Formula 1 livery -- a white car overlaid with black Marlboro lettering and vermilion triangular patterning on the nose, cowling, and wings -- was iconic.
And yet no matter how exquisite the artwork or how repetitive the image, the hundreds of millions of dollars the tobacco giants collectively spent annually in Formula 1 failed to generate one cigarette sale to yours truly. I neither smoke nor desire to smoke.
Nevertheless, the tobacco companies continued to spent despite the intransigence of yours truly and his ilk. The tobacco companies advertised until they were prohibited because the dollars generated a return on investment by persuading cigarette smokers to smoke a particular brand -- their brand. It worked.
The tobacco companies were successful, to a lesser degree, converting nonsmokers to smokers by appealing to a separate desire. The conversion occurred because of the image -- the cool, rugged, adventurous man (the Marlboro Man) -- the advertising projected.
Gotcha!! So the advertising was manipulative, after all.
Not quite. The desire to smoke might been been latent, but the desire to project a masculine image wasn't. Philip Morris, in particular, satisfied the desire best of all with its Marlboro brand. How successful would the Virginia Slims brand (another Philip Morris brand) have been appealing to the same desired image?
That advertising appeals to a pre-existing desire fails to convince me that it's manipulative. Au contraire, not only is it not manipulative, companies have no other choice but to appeal to consumers' desires. I offer another example.
Wealth is a universal desire. We all want it; we all want more of it. Most people prefer the present to the future. When wealth is the desire, more wealth is desired sooner than later. As with most things, if one can assume less risk and extend less effort to satisfy the desire, all the merrier.
The desire to work, continually save and invest, delay gratification, and practice patience is circumscribed in comparison. As with everything else in life, these habits have proven to be continually successful in producing and perpetuating wealth. Unfortunately, advertising centered on wealth-creating schemes that accentuate the quotidian, off-putting notions of work, discipline, and endurance, not only falls to promote, it will repel.
No one should be surprised, then, that the successful advertising strategies of sellers of wealth-creating schemes target the vast majority. Their advertising themes accentuate the lure of quick, easy riches on a grand scale. I offer a recent sampling of investment newsletter advertising themes: "Make 10x Your Money From My Wyoming Trip", "New IPO Gold Royalty Stock is My Next 1,000% Winner", "Tiny $5 Stock to Transform Every $500 Invested Into $1.5 million." The ads promote the potential to capture riches today with minimal fuss and muss. Why? Because they appeal to consumer demand.
Do the ads exaggerate? Of course. Do they lie? No. Could an investment transform every $500 into $1.5 million? Yes, An "investment" could even transform $2 into $300 million (the Powerball lottery). It's true, even if the odds are astronomically long. But so what? The consumer desires the odds remain concealed.
The consumer reigns supreme. His or her supremacy extends to advertising. The consumer dictates what to produce. He or she dictates how products and services are to be advertised.
If the consumer of wealth-creating services desires to learn the grinding technique of allocating money to investments that earn 10%-to-12% annual returns averaged over decades, you can be sure the providers of said services would produce advertising to satisfy the desire.
Alas. it is otherwise. The consumer has spoken. He or she prefers the fantasy of quick, easy riches -- how to transform every $500 into $1.5 million -- to the reality of the aforementioned grind that produces the majority of individual wealth. That's what the consumer desires to be sold, and that's the desire producers have to satisfy in their advertising.