Thursday, October 23, 2008

Psych of Ads and Thoughts of Sex

Garrett Hopkins

TA: Kate Brant

The Psychology of Advertisement

Anyone who has ever taken a psychology class has studied Sigmund Freud. One of his most notable contributions to the study of the mind is his declaration that all actions and thoughts can be linked to our sex drive. Knowing this information, and knowing psychology and advertisement are hand-in-hand, there is no wonder as to why so many commercials use sex as a way to promote their product. I almost feel lazy using a sexual ad for this paper noting its’ obviousness, but nonetheless it has proven to be a great example. I chose an ad from Axe Body Spray. It’s their original ad if I’m not mistaken. Axe is a strongly scented body spray, and this ad depicts people having just completed an unknown sexual act in an odd place, at an odd time. I believe that this ad is tapping into the Freudian theory of “constant sexual thought” by showing that people who use the product have a chance to engage sexually at any time quite sporadically, and causes a subliminal urge to partake in activities like this.

The ad begins with music I can only describe as “risky”. We see a few young women emerging from miscellaneous places, such as a dressing room, a tennis court and an airplane bathroom. They all are looking around nervously and they all have imprints of random signs on their backs. One girl has a car wheel…another has a no-smoking sign… We are left with the impression that they were just engaged in a sexual act with their backs pressed up against that object/sign.

The last scene is the girl exiting the airplane bathroom. After she nervously walks out, fixes her hair and walks past the camera (revealing a no-smoking sign imprinted on her back), a guy walks out after her, looking like he just had the time of his life. His face is red, his hair is messy and he has a slight grin. It’s clear he just got some. As he too turns and walks off camera, the words appear. “It can happen anywhere.” That phrase pretty much sums up the entire message of the commercial. The next shot is a guy in the bathroom spraying on Axe, and as a confident male voice says “The Axe Effect”, those words appear front and center along side an actual bottle of the product.

This is a very effective add. It cleanly connects with our sex drives, both for men and women, whether we like it or not. Along with having sexual images, such as women in bikinis, the ultimate message is extremely sexual as well. “It can happen anywhere”. “It” is our ultimate desire and purpose in life, if you want to go there. We think about “it” all the time, whether we know it or not, so the prospect that it could happen at anytime is a very intelligent way to promote a product. My secondary ad backs up this point.

The ad is for Trojan Condoms. A man in a tuxedo knocks on a door and is greeted by a very attractive woman in a red dress. After we learn this is his wedding day and the woman is the bride’s sister, the woman pulls him inside and shuts the door. She tells him she wants him once for herself before he marries her sister. The woman says it’ll be their secret and walks toward the steps, undressing as she walks. It is obvious the guy thinks it is a good idea and is down for the adventure. He runs out to his car to grab a condom from his glove box, but as he reaches for them, we hear clapping and cheering. The promiscuous groom looks around, only to find the entire family of the bride looking very happy. Her father walks up and says, “I just had to know what kind of man you are. You passed the test. I’m proud to call you son.”

This ad too highlights the hopefulness most men have toward spontaneous, risky sex. Not just for men, but women too, because to me the sister looks a little disappointed at the end. Though it is not necessarily saying the product will bring this spontaneous sex upon the consumer, like the Axe ad is, this one still deals with the same psychological quirk all humans share. Both ads are painting a picture of one of our deepest desires and making them seem available AND common. Both really make random sexual encounters seem easily obtainable. In both, the male “victim” is an ordinary looking fellow, giving off a familiar day-to-day vibe. Every single woman is extremely good looking. This connects with that familiar “day-to-day” guy. It finds the part of their mind that is constantly seeking sexual pleasure, and reminds it that deep down, it truly wouldn’t mind hooking up with a very attractive woman. After connecting and grabbing hold of attention, the ad then explains how their product can help them achieve this.

Ads everywhere create fantasies, shape the ideal that people want to achieve. Calvin Klein's euphoria ad helps to do this. The single phrase "live the dream" is responsible for putting the image of "the dream" into your head.
The model looks seductively at the viewer, as she represents what the ideal woman should strive for--beauty, sexuality, being on the cutting edge of fashion. This helps to propel the idea of sophistication and how to go about getting it. By buying this fragrance, you can accomplish securing the dream life.
The bottle also shows sophistication--the metallic body is symbolic of the rich lifestyle. It echos the metallic luxury that money can buy--many of the cutting edge appliances (refridgerators, ovens, stereos), as well as luxury cars, often show the sheen and elegance of the product through their use of design. The curved edges and smooth surfaces (like on the bottle) is reminiscent of the surface of what people put in their homes and in their driveways. One can often assume that a man or women who drives a nice, shiny, new car has money to spend. And how much money you have to spend often depicts how successful you are in your job, and consequently, in your life.

Cartier's add for their new diamond engagement ring collection strives to send the same message as the Calvin Klein ad. Diamonds are often the choice for engagement and wedding rings, as they are seen as the most precious and beautiful jewel and therefore are regarded as worthy to give to the love of your life when making a life-changing and important commitment.
Not that other jewels wouldn't suffice, but Cartier is trying to sell their diamonds, so they go so far as to say that by buying not just their jewels, but their diamond engagement rings that you will secure "extraordinary love". And of course extraordinary love is something we all want. You just don't want a regular love for the person who you're going to spend your life with. This, again, is getting you to want the ideal, the "dream life". Often, women especially, dream about their weddings, and having one of these rings shows that you have gotten that dream. And with "Collection starting at $4,200", this also is like the car--pricey. Only the financially successful are likey to buy these products.
And although people can make their own decisions on what to buy, if someone is going to buy perfume or a ring, they may just be more inclined to buy these products after seeing these ads, as the glamour being displayed in these ads may stick in their minds.
I also think that the colors in these ads may help to draw you in. The very neutral browns in Calvin Klein's ad help to make the models eyes pop, which catches the viewers attention. The bright surface, added with the purplish side of the bottle make this perfume stand out. Having the text in white helps it to stand out with the bottle, not only because it stands apart from the neutral background, but compliments the color of the bottle.
Cartier's diamond rings stand out from the very bright red that makes the background of the jewelry ad. Having the rings be bigger than they actually are also help pull in the viewer.
Overall, these two ads' main goal is to sell luxuries that are supposed to contribute to a life a glamour. This is often desired by women and these ads are saying that that is within your reach--with products like these. The companies need to do this to sell items that people don't really need. One ad does this by mostly targeting the potential buyer directly, while the other ad tries to catch the attention of people who would be buying gifts for someone else. Whether or not any of this is accomplished is up to the public--and may be decided when looking at the sales. However, by using pretty models and by enlarging the image of the rings to show the details, the companies are trying to get an edge over their competition.
"Live the dream" is what really caught my eye and made me want to write about this article. It seems as if the majority of ads are trying to say this. Many people who look at these ads want what they see, but cannot afford the items displayed. They say they would by it, if they had the money. And more money to buy things is what many desire--it's "the dream".

Mallory Davidson

Anti-viral Marketing?

When Sony lauched its new line of HDTVs in 2006, the Bravia, they attempted a new marketing strategy focusing on the boldness of the colors present in their new televisions. A series of ads were developed highlighting the broad color range, and comparing it to the vibrancy of color as it existed in real life. To this extent, the ads filmed extraordinary displays of real color, such as paint exploding from an apartment complex in Scotland. The third ad in this series was the most anticipated, and when revealed, proved to be the most dynamic. A lengthy stop motion clip in the busy streets of New York using in excess of 2,5 tonnes of plasticine. (Conversion factors?) The ad, however, would not achieve its full potential until it made the jump to the internet, where it saw a huge surge in popularity. I believe this was not only an intention of the Sony advertising firm, but also that this ad was specifically tailored to appeal to “viral” audience of the internet.

The “YouTube” generation has always been a step ahead of the game in terms of what the mass audience craves. These techno-viral guru’s cling to the unusual and unique with such fanaticism that has the power to determine the fate of a potential internet media user. This power is responsible for the longevity of such phenomena as the “Numa Numa Dance” or “LolCatz”. It is no wonder that these elusive pop culture representatives are the new demographic of many advertisers. But just as advertising has grown to a new target, their target has outgrown the ability to be manipulated. The viral metaphor becomes clear when we examine the numerous failed attempts to harness this untraceable power of cool. (See Sony’s “All I Want for Christmas is a PSP”)
Marketing firms are forever searching for the next way to latch on to this self-propagated advertising, and Sony may have finally found it; for now.

The ad which has achieved so much recognition is the third ad in a series celebrating HDTVs. This final ad was anticipated widely due to the successful use of a “hype” machine and when it finally arrived, viewers were amazed. This video uses an age old technique in an not so unordinary way to create a spectacle that can somehow still amaze. The trick is simple, but would only be effective in this time period.
In todays world of computer generated imaging we have seen many things that were thought impossible and shows like the one in this Sony ad have become commonplace. What creates the buzz for this ad, is the obvious push away from that semi-realism we have come to see as common. This ad was made entirely without the aid of computers. 40 animators labored for over three weeks to carefully compose what amounted to over 100,000 still images of rabbits taking over a busy New York intersection. There is a scale of accomplishment here that demands to be respected. And the people that consider themselves video gurus, took the bait instantly.
The content of the advertisement is simple, non-informative, and curiosity inspiring. Almost begging the viewer to learn more.(That in fact was what led me to choose this ad.) And at a length of just over a minute, this video seems to be almost made for the internet. In addition, one only has to search once to find the plethora of additional material made for this hype. A sneak trailer was released on YouTube before the video came out, and following it’s release, a documentary on the creation was released. All these “bonus goodies” reward the curious viewer and inspire the thought that their curiosity would only be more rewarded by further investigation and eventual purchase.

An ad with an almost identical strategy is the Honda “Cog” ad of 2004. In this ad, engineers laboriously dismantled two full Honda Accord hatchbacks and built a fully functioning “Rube Goldberg” machine which moves precariously through incredibly feats of precision to finally unveil a still-assembled Accord at the end. Clocking in a two whole minutes, there is no doubt this ad saw little air time and built hype off of curiosity. Like the Sony Ad, this ad has no information apart from the title at the end, and a limited soundtrack. This ad was also released with a “making-of” featurette. This ad also commanded the respect of the viral audience with it’s authenticity. In 606 takes, the full machine only functioned fully once. When this ad was presented to the executives at Honda they remarked as to the technical proficiency of computer graphics and were floored when the were told the ad was real.1
The real success of these ads comes from the fact that they are not trying to fool an audience. Something new in the relatively one-dimensional “viral marketing” model--which previously focused on subversively incorporating “cool” product placement--the usually intelligent online community responded in kind. By presenting television viewers with something more entertaining than persuasive, and rewarding consumers for their curiosity with online goodies, the companies set a good model for themselves; and by demanding the respect of the online “powers-that-be” with honest technical prowess, these firms have earned themselves a veritable boatload of free publicity through the wonder of online communities. Although these ads are slightly dated, the seem to represent a new, more frank direction in the seedy world of viral marketing.


Zach Erdmann
Kate Brandt

I look to my left, I look to my right, what do I see? Sex day and night.

Sex, sex, sex. It is unavoidable in today’s advertising. Why is this you might ask yourself? Well the answer is simple. Sex sells. Fifty years ago, you could turn on the television and watch a show that had very little sexual content on the surface. In fact a T.V. show married couple, such as the Howells on Gilligan’s island, could not be in the same bed at the same time unless one of them had a visible foot touching the ground. Why the sudden change? Because sex sells, especially in advertising even if the add has nothing to do with the product.
In my first advertisement I chose this add by Patrick Cox. Look at the ad and what is the initial thought? What type of product is this ad selling? One might think its selling genes, or maybe underwear. Yet this advertisement is for shoes. The shoe that the woman is wearing is the product that is being sold. But what is this advertisement really selling? The answer: sex. The funny thing is the shoes are meant for women. There is a naked woman with a naked man, selling shoes. The reason for this is to subconsciously grab out attention and tell women that if they where these shoes they could be but in this situation. This is not to say this exact situation but that the person wearing these shoes will be sexy and look sexy to the opposite sex. It is also showing that the shoes must be comfortable enough to participate in the activities the girl in the ad is shown doing.
I have chosen several supporting ads instead of just one to illustrate the fact that it’s the image that matters, and not necessarily the product. These first two ads are also for shoes, Sketchers to be presences, and feature pop singer Christina Aguilera. The first has Christina sitting down wearing a sporty outfit and fishnets. This is a lower degree of sexuality than the Cox ad but it is also the same methods, just geared to a different age group. Instead of the shoes being sold to adult women, these are meant to be sold to preteen girls, who might wish to be “sexy” like Christina. The second ad is another Sketchers ad and had Christina as a nurse. This is more sexual than the first ad and might be geared to an early teen buyer. This ad has more focus on Christina’s breasts and less on her legs, which was the main sexual focus of the last one. She is wearing a nurse outfit, which is revealing and is not even close to what a nurse really wears. This is simply to sell the sex appeal of the shoes.
The last ad I chose because there is much controversy over this as. I also have included the video of this ad, which was banned from T.V. This is an ad for Calvin Klein’s Secret Obsession, which is perfume. In the original banned television ad we see Eva Mendes rolling around on a bed naked, and in the magazine ad we see a close up of her also naked. This ad is aimed to make one think that you can look as beautiful as Eva by purchasing this product, just as the Cox shoes where in the first ad.
It seems today that in order to sell anything one must use sex. Not only that but it also seems as though one must use women’s sex appeal because as seen in all of the ads the main focus is on attractive women. The ads all have the same formula, sexy girl cloths optional, ad in product name, equals ad. This formula seems to work because the sexuality in ads increase as time goes on, as seen in Eva’s television ad. It seems sad that in our world today you need to but sex in everything. Now don’t get me wrong, I do indulge in the viewing of such spectacles as much a the next person, but I still find it pathetic that in order to sell a product a company has to use sex, and can’t just relay on the products over all quality.

Here is the T.V. ad

Uncensored Eva Mendes Calvin Klein Commercial - The funniest movie is here. Find it

Late Night Sideshow

Late night television is a mysterious world of locally produced advertisements full of strange characters and bizarre commercial premises. These commercials do not have the talent or the budget to create the typical desires of the commodity self. Rather they create a desire similar to a circus sideshow, where unique acts and displays draw you closer by their curious nature. In Cleveland Ohio, there is a furniture store called Norton Furniture that airs its commercials late at night. These commercials feature the owner, Marc Brown, in some very odd circumstances that are loosely tied into the store’s credit policy. These advertisements seem to capture the essence of the sideshow, creating an attraction so unique you can only experience first-hand to believe it. To describe the advertisement to another person is impossible. You have to see it to believe it. The novelty of these commercials lends itself well for word-of-mouth advertising, and in this we find the desire created by the Norton Furniture commercials. “Bragging-rights” would be the best term to describe this desire. It is the desire to be the first person to find the strange and sometimes funny commercials to show off to your friends. It’s as if to say, “I may have become a major player in the success of this commercial because I found it first and I shared it with everyone!” These commercials, by their bizarre qualities, create a desire to share the experience.

In one his commercials, we find Marc in his store surrounded by several lifelike animals and the sounds of a very active jungle. Marc, in his raspy voice and awkward hand gestures, then addresses the audience directly telling them that “. . . seriously, if you can’t get credit in my store (pause) you can’t get credit anywhere.” He then walks over to a mannequin dressed as a police officer asking it to help him. The viewer is left dumbfounded. Questions like, “What was that?” and “Is this guy for real?” will flood the viewers head. Usually the next step for the viewer is to call a friend over to confirm that the commercial is incredibly odd and perhaps funny. The viewer may then try to share the experience of the commercial with more people and so on and so on.

This low budget, bizarre commercial design has been adopted by Absolute Vodka in an advertisement featuring Kayne West. The commercial is set up like a short info-mercial selling a tablet that can transform you into Kayne West. This commercial is trying to create the desire of sharing to help circulate itself by word-of-mouth. However, it does not have the same effect because it utilizes a very well known vodka and a very well known pop music artist.

The novelty of these commercials is found in its hacky, low budget quality, and it is these qualities that may inspire ridicule from the viewer. But, that ridicule will make the advertisement memorable for the viewer and create the desire to share it with other viewers. The draw of the unique and bizarre is more powerful that many people realize.

Nathan Irish

TA Kate Brandt

I've got People

Agencies trying to sell products use tactics and one of the greatest ways to sell products is by using celebrities. The celebrities become the spokesperson for the company’s product and if the product is good enough for a celebrity, then it should be a well-made product that anyone will would want to use. In the case of the American Express commercials, the use of the celebrities show what kind of credit card company they’ll trust to take care of everything for them. A goal of advertisements is to sell their product by appealing to the masses and the majority of people dream of having a more “celebrity” life. The appealing part of the American Express ads is the celebrity and how they go through their glamorous days using the credit card and then the dreamers think to themselves that if they used the same credit card they might get a little closer towards being more “celebrity.” Using a celebrity will help the product they are promoting to sell better because it makes people believe that the product must be good if a celebrity is using it.
The first ad I chose was the American Express ad with Kate Winslet. The greatest part of this ad, for me, is how she is listing off what age she was and the role she played, but not by fully stating it. For example, she says, “ By 19, I was penniless and heartbroken,” as she’s lifting up Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility where Kate plays Marianne Dashwood. The references to the roles she is playing is slightly confusing at first because it makes one wonder what product she is promoting. Then finally at the end of the commercial she says, “My real life doesn't need any extra drama that’s why my card is American Express,” finally showing the product and also saying that with the big dramatic life that she has to deal with, her credit card company helps her with the stuff she doesn’t want to worry about.
The desires being created in the commercial is to lead an exciting life just like Kate Winslet and at the same time not having to worry about the extra stuff because you will have “people” to take care of it for you. This ad creates this desire by having all of Kate Winslet’s more famous roles being stated while using visual hints to match the statements. Then also there is a bus that goes by with a picture of Kate Winslet on it from a magazine where she looks glamorous and the picture is screaming at you “SHE’S FAMOUS!!!” and this is the famous desire being created in the viewer.
The second ad relating to Kate Winslet’s American Express commercial is a different American Express commercial with Ellen Degeneres and Beyonce Knowles. This ad has Ellen trying to call her “people” to go to Beyonce’s concert and then she figures out who her people are. The voice over of Ellen says, “The people who can get me into the shows I want to get into. That’s why I’m a card member.” Her “people” is really American Express because she knows that she can trust them to get her what she wants. The second ad relates to the first because Kate Winslet’s ad has her implying about the people at American Express being able to take care of things for her while Ellen Degeneres goes on a hunt for her people and then coming into the conclusion of the American Express people always being her people that she turns to. The desires in this ad also like the first because it makes the viewer want to also have people to be able to get them into shows and like in the first ad, take care of the extra drama.
With the help of celebrities, products become more popular because most celebrities are high-class people that are constantly idolized. With them being idolized, “normal” people want to be just like their idols and use the products that their idols use. With a natural human desire to be glamorous, people will try anything to achieve that goal.

Kaitlyn Murray
TA Kate Brandt

Did I Say Group Enough?

The ad I chose to analyze is a commercial made for television that can be found on The commercial is from the UK and is for a cell phone plan known as “Talk Talk“. The premise of the ad a group of people form various shapes while a camera films the shape they are making from a bird’s eye view. A narrator walks the viewer through the how each shape correlates with their message. The group makes a heart, an arrow, various human figures, a stroller, a phone, a face talking into a phone, and finally the plan title Talk Talk. The commercial closes with both text on the screen and the narrator saying the product’s tagline “Let’s do it together.” The desire that the commercial is trying to get across is that it wants you want to become part of their group.

The first half of the commercial is devoted to positive things that, presumably, people would want to be. It starts by using people to make the shape of a heart, which is then split by an arrow of people to form two hearts. Over this visual the narrator says “People in love.” I think it’s fair to speculate that everyone would like to be in love, and this is a phone plan is for them. The shot cuts to people making to human figures holding hands and waving to one another while a narrator says “Good friends.” So even if you’re not in love and just have good friends, this phone plan is also for you. The next shot is a group of people assembling a stroller while your friend and humble narrator says, “New mums.” There is a definite respect for mothers in our society (presuming that they aren’t fifteen and in high school) and people generally find babies adorable and being a new parent is a positive ideal all around. The commercial’s final example of parties who would be interested in this plan is as the narrator puts it, “Families.” The shape-making group of people forms two human figures tossing a ball back and forth, and the ball is made of two people spinning together. The ideal family is considered a happy part of life that brings people comfort and structure in their lives, so if you’ve ever at any point in your life been part of a family this phone plan is for you. The point all of these examples are trying to make is that their phone plan is good for anyone and everyone. You belong to this group of phone users. “Whoever you are, when you join Talk Talk…” The second half of the commercial is more business oriented in the sense that it actually tells you what the commercial is trying to market instead of just giving more examples of positive groupings of people. The group of people makes a phone (both the part you talk into and the console) and another shot with the shape-making people creating a face talking into a phone. I thought it was particularly clever that they used a bush for the face’s hair. Over these shots the narrator talks about the plan and how you can make free call to the other people in the groups you belong to. The commercial ends with the plan’s title and the tagline or catchphrase “Let’s do it together.” This line makes the point of all the people making shapes, doing something together.

The advertisement I chose to support the concepts of the Talk Talk ad is PC’s response commercial to Mac’s attack ads against PCs. Although the products are different, the both commercials are centered on the idea of belonging to a group. In this case it’s a group of PC users who come from very diverse backgrounds and careers saying that they’re PCs [users]. The commercial is trying to instill a desire to be part of this group of individuals who each do what they want to do in life. These people use PCs, and they are cool and interesting people, don’t you want to be one too?

All advertisements want to create a sense of desire in the viewer, usually beyond that of simply a desire to buy the marketed product. Both of these commercials make the viewer desire to become part of a group of positive, interesting individuals. Commercials frequently try to make the viewer feel accepted and that they belong to something bigger than themselves. They make the viewer feel that they are important and special, and most of all should buy their product because it will simultaneously make you special and part of a group.

Nelson Schneider
TA: Kate B.