While the advertising industry comes up with some very clever and amusing ads, for example the clip above, I often find myself irritated by advertisements on television. And it is not just because they interrupt my TV viewing. What I find most irritating is the often emotive manipulation used to sell products – playing on the viewers fears, guilt, envy and other emotions. For years advertising companies have exploited psychology to work out the best way to part us from our money, often pushing the boundaries of what I would consider fair and truthful. Indeed, I was quite pleased to recently see Ab Circle Pro advertisements banned on the basis that they portray unrealistic outcomes and could mislead the consumer. Hopefully a few other exercise equipment advertisements will follow given many make, in my opinion, similar unrealistic claims.
When I think about it, advertising could be viewed as the antithesis of science; in science every effort is made to remove bias, to be objective and to focus on the facts. Advertising attempts to introduce favourable bias towards the product, encourages beneficial subjective views and glosses over inconvenient facts.
With the Ab Circle Pro advertisements removed, I wonder if any more advertisements will follow? It seems to me that there a few others that make fairly dodgy claims.
Hmmm, where did I put the address of the Advertising Standards Authority again?
Note – The TED talk from which this clip is taken talks about a lot more than advertising. It is a fascinating discussion about the concept of intangible value and is certainly worth a watch.