Thursday, December 23, 2010

Silly Psychological Slogans #3: Overreaching Associations

Everybody knows that good advertising attempts to tap into existing emotions and associate a certain product with it. Thus the old adage, "Sex sells". That works fine with coke, cars, and the like; things that naturally appeal to you. Then it's only a matter of elevating this specific brand by associating it with another need. I'm anyways gonna drink soda, why not spend a few cents more to get the one that might make me more sexually desirable. The problem advertisers sometimes face is taking a boring product and trying to associate it with those same deeper needs.

Take Excedrin. Their tagline is: "For life's headaches". Their commercial shows people in otherwise happy families bogged down by headaches. The connection trying to be built here is that headaches are the impediment to your otherwise happy life, and Excedrin is your friend. That's overreaching. Nobody today thinks that curing headaches will cure all their problems. They need to aim a little lower.

Here's one for Gillete: A 20 second scene of kids seeing only a smooth-shaven Dad (close-up on the shiny chin) amidst a large group of people at their game/play. The tagline? "Show em how much you care, with gillette fusion proglide". If you can't even figure this association out, your not alone. The best I can come up with is that your kids are judging how much you care by how presentable you make yourself. Gillete has always had sexual commercials. Here they are trying to shamelessly branch out. In my opinion, the oedipal basis of this commercial points more to the disturbed psyche of the ad designer than the demographic Gillete is trying to attract. Or at least I'd like to hope.

Finally, Chase bank makes a notable contribution in their "Chase what matters" commercials. Here we have the same pattern over and over. A mother or father trying to help out in the family, and being able to do so by Chase taking care of the finances. Here Chase is trying to score from behind the 8-ball. Being concerned about your money makes you Scrooge in the zeitgeist. Chase is taking over the burden of your guilt to allow you to still feel good about yourself. We'll sell our soul to keep yours pure. We recognize that we've damned ourselves by chasing money, but you can save us, if only a little. We are weak and have trapped ourselves in evil. But by doing this we allow you, the good one, to chase what matters.

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