It’s a well-known fact that adverts often utilise less-than scrupulous methods to get a reaction from their audience. ‘Sexy’ ads have been around for decades, relying entirely on showing the public an attractive person, who just happens to be holding a product:
We aren’t sold based on the product’s merits, its prestige, or its appeal. We are sold through the association we have with the person, and how they make us feel.
By linking the product to the feeling of attraction, the brand has successfully created a positive feedback loop: we see the ad, like the person, thus like the brand. We don’t particularly care about the product, but we damn sure like the feeling we get when we think about it. Subconsciously, we are reminded of it whenever we look at whatever it is we bought.
This is called classical conditioning, and has been a topic of psychological study for decades. It requires a stimulus that triggers a response, this trigger is then remembered as a direct link to this pleasurable sensation. Advertising used this link to push products for decades, again and again until it became a tired technique, overused to the point of cliché, even eventually becoming a punchline for stand up comedians like George Carlin:
'Advertising sells you things you don't need and can't afford, that are overpriced and don't work. And they do it by exploiting your fears and insecurities, and if you don't have any they'll be glad to give you a few by showing you a nice picture of a woman with big t*ts. That's the essence of advertising: big t*ts. Threateningly big t*ts.'
However, we are now seeing a move away from such simplistic cause/effect conditioning, as people have become increasingly resistant to advertising, especially this type of hyper-sexual exploitation. A recent study has found that, while sex-appeal is more likely to make people remember the ad, it doesn’t make them more likely to remember the actual brand, and it has literally zero impact on the target’s intention to buy. Furthermore, people are now actually more likely to form a negative opinion of brands that use sex to try to sell its product.
So with that in mind, perhaps it’s time for 21st Century marketing teams to embrace the shift, and start creating content that works. As we mentioned before, people hate to be manipulated, and they hate to be relentlessly sold to, so adopting a gentler approach is a smart move.
PR allows brands to get exposure in a far less aggressive way than advertising, which people respond far more positively to. By creating interesting content parallel to you, you guarantee your audience will listen, then they have the power to decide to pursue you further. By allowing them to make that choice, they’re already inclined towards you, instead of being on the defensive. This is the perfect way to attract people, and will create a genuine personality for your brand, rather than a persona which people can see through.
One way to establish credibility in an authentic way is to use a celebrity spokesperson that people can recognise or identify with. Celebrities in ads are paid to endorse a product, celebrities in PR are paid to deliver a story. This will still ensure the viewer’s attention, without the obvious attempt to utilise aesthetics for financial gain. Check out this video we made that utilises a celebrity without detracting from the core message:
Creating genuine relationships is what we do, so if you’re interested in pursuing a broadcast PR campaign, get in touch with us on 020 7158 0000.