The most appealing advertisements use the audience’s emotions as their leverage. They instill fear and the psychology of pain, moderately, to their subjects and use that to their advantage. To remain ethical, most of these companies normally provide genuine solutions, and therefore it cannot be viewed as manipulation. This essay will discuss how political, public health and commercial advertising appeals to our emotions.
The first type of advertisement to be discussed is the political advertising. This plays a huge role in granting the political parties a channel of communicating with their subjects. During political campaigns, this becomes a very reliable tool to the political parties in informing and persuading potential voters (Bratu, 2013). In most political advertisements, there is always a notable negativity in their tone. The fact that there are no ‘rules’ in the political advertising world gives the advertisers a chance to blatantly criticize their political opponents by publicly highlighting the weaknesses and liabilities. This is what sets a line between commercial and political advertisements.
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The main aim of such advertisements is to encourage the public to take certain political route. They seek to let the public know the weaknesses that the opponents may have that might be their liabilities in governing. This instills fear to some of the supporters on what might be the aftermath of their choices during voting. By so doing, the advertisers normally hope to attract the supporters on the other side of the political river to their side and hence draw a huge support. In some cases this tends to be successful while in other cases it does not work, but it is normally worth a gamble considering the fruits that might be harvested thereafter.
As stated earlier, commercial advertisements have a distinctive feature compared to the political ones and that is the tone. Contrary to the negativity in the political advertisements’ tones, commercial advertisements have a notable positivity in theirs. Since the main aim of commercial advertisers is to promote their own brands while voluntarily sticking to some sort of ‘code of advertising ethics’, the tone in commercial adverts is normally positive with no direct criticism of the opponents.
The sort of communication used in commercial advertising builds an image in the consumers mind about the brand being advertised or gives a persuasive reason as to why such brand is ideal for the consumer’s needs (Moriarty and Brennan, 2014). Some commercial advertisers usually create a picture in the consumer’s mind of what might happen if the consumers do not obtain a certain product. By so doing, they instill some kind of emotion in them after which they provide a solution. The main aim of such advertisers is to show the potential customers the importance of having the advertised product and why it is the best. In some cases, the advertisers might criticize other products but contrary to the political advertisements, the competitors are not mentioned by name.
Public health advertisement is another form of advertisement worth discussing. Most of these advertisements are aimed at informing the public about the effects of certain consumables while others are aimed at marketing products such as painkillers, cleaning agents and other various products used by people on day to day activities. Those ads specifically made for marketing products are split between commercial and public health advertisements but in a more general sense they can be categorized as commercial adverts. Since public health advertisements have a role of educating the public about negative effects of certain products, their tone is mostly negative (Moriarty and Brennan, 2014). Their negativity, though, varies from that of political advertisements in the sense that they do not criticize any opponent. For instance, adverts that inform the public about harmfulness of excessive intake of alcohol normally bring out the worst side of this product. In the same depth, they discourage underage drinking. The tone can be categorized as negative since the emotions that arise after watching most of this adverts are negative.
This negative emotions brought out by this advertisements ensures that the harmfulness of the advertised products is well understood by the consumers. Some of these products include tobacco, alcohol and other unhealthy substances that are at a constant consumption by the public. Other adverts inform the public about children vaccination. Such advertisements, for instance polio vaccination advertisements, give the mothers an idea of what might happen to their children if they do not undergo vaccination. This fear instilled in the subjects is what the advertisers use to their advantage.
Generally, most advertisements use fear instilled to the audience as the backbone of their message transmission. Fear is the emotion that is intended to make the audience do or not to do something with the thoughts that something worse might happen. Advertisers use this to their advantage by providing a specific solution to this, either virtual or real, problem. One theory that best explains this is the extended parallel process model theory. This theory bases its view on how behavioral change may be caused by perceived threats. According to this theory, this appeal for fear will only be useful if the perceived threat is strong enough. If the consumer’s perception of the threat is low, then the consumer will not react according to how the message expected them to. This is because they just don’t think the threat is their anyway and things will not change as the message claims.
In another case, the consumer might perceive the threat but is not convinced with the solution. Here, the consumer is well convinced that there is a threat somewhere but also believes that the threat has more strength that defeats the recommended action. The third case is where the consumer perceives the threat and thinks the recommended action fits the situation. He or she therefore chooses to engage in the action. Taking this theory into consideration, the advertisers should therefore ensure that both the problem and the solution are well balanced.
There are some social conditions that foster fearfulness in individuals. Social fear is one of these conditions. Social fear is that feeling that makes a person not very interactive with other people with the fear of being judged or humiliating themselves in front of a public. This condition makes the individual quite uncomfortable interacting with other peers because of fearfulness. Another condition is the fear of the unknown. This is a mental obstacle that prevents an individual from engaging in something because they don’t know what will happen and they don’t want to know nor take chances. Some advertisements that bring out such fears in individuals may cause discomfort to the audience.
Perceptions and past experiences that an individual was once involved in may perpetuate fearfulness. Human beings tend to have a restriction towards some activities due to their perception of these activities and the fear that they bring with them. Past experiences also deploys fear in individual because the general reaction of people is not to be ‘beaten’ once again. For instance if an individual was involved in activity that robbed them of their reputation, dignity or any precious belonging, they will not want to be involved in any similar act once again. This is what perpetuates fear in them whenever an idea of a similar situation is brought into their minds.
Bratu, S. (2013). The impact of political advertising on individual vote choice. Geopolitics, History, and International Relations , (1), 124-129.
Moriarty, S., Mitchell, N. D., Wells, W. D., Crawford, R., Brennan, L., & Spence-Stone, R. (2014). Advertising: Principles and practice . Pearson Australia.