The unconscious influencing of advertising

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3 minutes





People don’t like to admit it, but the influence of advertising largely takes place outside of our consciousness. Not surprising, because every day we are bombarded with numerous stimuli and choices that we can’t possibly process rationally. We can’t give an exact amount of advertisements we process per day. The estimates range from 247 to over 3000 advertisements per day. This big difference is because we can’t be 100% certain in saying what is considered advertising and what isn’t. Every logo you see (on packaging, for example) is advertising to one person and not to another.

Distraction to influence

Successful advertising deliberately distracts the consumer, so that most stimuli only reach the unconscious. Consumers don’t consciously receive much of the advertising incentives, unless they look at it or listen carefully. Sounds strange but it works.

 'Effective advertising is not necessarily advertising that is processed consciously. Especially advertising viewed without much attention would influence most effectively'.'

Just watch any commercial break and you will see that naturally-occurring forms of distraction tend to be used. For example: humour, certain memories, associations, preferences or behaviours. Colour also has a lot of unconscious influence. Blue, for example, radiates confidence without you thinking about it. You may have already read about the influence of colour in my previous blog 'Colour in your corporate identity’.

Unconscious stimuli along the way

There are also many unconscious stimuli in supermarkets and other stores. Playing French music, for example, can lead to more sales of the French wines. And, this totally applies to children, the product packaging influences the subconscious of the little ones. For example, green and yellow on packaging attracts the little ones more. Add a picture of a famous cartoon character and they will throw these biscuits in the trolley rather than those in bright red packaging.

Surreptitious advertising

Surreptitious advertising - also called 'product placement' - focuses mainly on the subconscious. You watch a series or film and you don’t realize that you’re watching advertisements. Although surreptitious advertising is prohibited on public channels, there was an IKEA sofa in the doctor's living room of the popular1980s series 'Zeg' ns AAA'. Exactly the same sofa that was on the front page of the IKEA catalogue. Coincidence? No, this was the first example of product placement in the Netherlands. In America there has been surreptitious advertising for as long as the film industry exists. There is footage from the 1919 short film (25 min.) The Garage.


The Garage - product placemeThe Garage, starring Buster Keaton and Roscoe Arbuckle, with advertising for ZEROLENE oils and the Red Crown Gasoline logo, a gas station from the 1900s.

Not cheap, but effective

Especially commercial channels will use product placement. For example, in Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden or Eigen Huis en Tuin, products are actively used - like when a key protagonist takes a sip from the bottle or can – more money will be paid. Advertisers pay a lot for this form of advertising in movies.

'45 million Heineken deal covers 1/3 of the production budget of James Bond movie.'

James Bond films are the champions here: millions of dollars are being paid to advertise in this way. With the 18th Bond movie (Tomorrow Never Dies), 100% of the production budget was covered with a $100 million product placement deal with various top brands. For example: Aston Martin, Rolex - later Omega - and of course Martini Vodka (shaken not stirred). Later, James’ favourite drink was replaced by a multimillion deal with Heineken.

How many brands appear in James Bond. You would only see it if they were shown one after the other.

Apple, on the other hand, has shown its products in films for years, without ever paying a dollar for it. This is because these are products that the filmmakers themselves wanted to use in the film.

And it works

While processing advertisements and shopping, you don’t notice anything. Until you walk out of the store with a can of Pepsi, a bottle of Heineken or a bottle of French wine when you really only like Chilean wine.

So are you going to design a product package, make a TV commercial or design a logo? Then unconscious stimuli are definitely something to keep in mind in developing it. We can help you with that, of course. Interested? Call, email or come and see us.

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