Friday, April 27, 2012

Advertising: Manipulation or Persuasion?

Advertising tends to focus on one of our needs; not to satisfy it, but to imbed the thought in our  heads that the said product would solve your problem and bring about your satisfaction. 

Let's play a game. Here is Maslow's hierarchy of needs:

Mix and match: Where do those recent ads fit?
  • Coffee Mate: Got the coffee, get the mate.
  • Snickers: eza darabak el jou3 drobo bi Snickers.
  • Nissan: I am funky, and I know it.
  • Trident: The flavor you can't get rid of.
  • Lancome: Rouge in love.
  • Gardenia: Eat safe.
  • Clorets: al thika bil nafes.

OK, you got the point. 

No one would acknowledge that, yes, I will buy Clorets, because, well, I think it will give me more self-confidence. This isn't quite how this works; so how can we say that the ad was about persuasion?

What is advertising, and how does it work? 

According to the marketing giant Philip Kotler: "Advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services through mass media such as newspapers, magazines, television or radio by an identified sponsor".

'I know that!' you will retort. 

Let's dig deeper together. Advertising is, theoretically, a simple 'presentation', that just happens to be 'paid'.  Certainly, it has a money-generating purpose. So how does a mere 'presentation' of products affect your purchasing behavior and translate into a profit-making machine, currently known as advertising.

There are three stated purposes in advertising campaigns:

1- To inform: creating awareness to a yet unknown product, introducing new specifications for an existing one.. That's what 'informing' is about, right? In the advertising world, this does not quite cut it. It is not about giving out information that will help you make your purchasing decisions. It is about  highlighting the points that might affect you positively and down sizing the effect of the rest.

2- To persuade:  It is about presenting that idea from a point of view that will matter, through a story or a character that can speak to your heart. It is about convincing you, through fake testimonials, or authorities and celebrities who are just playing along for the money. 

3- To remind: To keep the brand name in your top of mind recall, which has proven to increase the probability the brand will get sales. The more familiar the brand, the more likable it becomes. The more you gain a penchant to try it. 

Recently, I was reading a book called 'Buy.ology' by Martin Lindstrom. Basically, it sums up his research on neuromarketing (measuring changes in activity in the brain through MRI tests of people being subjected to ads). 

Here's what you need to know:

Product placement that fits within the setting of the story line or play a significant role works better

In a study conducted on American Idol, Lindstrom concludes that Ford had thrown 26 million dollars out of the window by sponsoring the show. Not only did it fail to increase its brand recall, the ads inhibited this recall, as the viewers resisted being subjected to what they obviously identified as advertising. 
Whereas, Coca-Cola who had smartly integrated its product, colors and shapes into the show, got a great response. Thus, covert advertising works better than obvious ones; which really begs the question: Persuasion or manipulation?

In Los Angeles, Lindstrom tested two outdoor ads, the first featured cowboys with no logo or brand, while the second, displayed the same image with the Marlboro brand. The research results showed that the first ad (with no brand) worked twice better at stimulating cigarette craving; the future of advertising?

Among the lesser known advertising efforts, the use of the senses to ignite a 'want'. For new cars, the smell of leather comes from a spray can; the same goes for fast-food chains like Mc Donald's, the delicious mouth-watering smell of bacon and cheese? From a can too. The fast paced music in shops like Mango during sales? It is intended to make you shop quickly, and linger less. 

Oh wait, was that them persuading you?

Monday, April 16, 2012

What Comes Next

What would you do?

When you have so many ideas and so little time to elaborate them...
    1. Pinterest: when is it worth tackling as a business
    2. What Facebook users can learn from stars
    3. Politicians on Twitter and accountability
    4. Why Google Plus is set for Viral Marketing
    5. A start-up's tipping point: Firms with small vs big budget products

    6. Advertising: between manipulation and persuasion
    7. Corporate Social Responsibility: the best selling point online?
    8. Discount cards vs coupons: why the latter is more beneficial
    9. The meaning of life in relation to the butterfly effect
    10. Weddings in Lebanon: When a social need overcomes all economic sense (5 marketing lessons to learn)

    I chose to write them down to get them out of my system.

    Which would you like to read? ... and in what order?

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    CityMall Paid Parking: Pros and Cons

    On March 20th, 2012, CityMall launched its paid-parking policy. 

    While the CityMall Facebook fans retorted in protest on the Facebook status update, complaining about the financial changes, many were overheard roaring impatiently as they waited in line.Was it a sound decision?
    CityMall parking

    Obviously there's the financial motive to start with. It costs to implement the system, but it certainly reduces the cost on parking lot employees on the long run, not to mention that it provides an additional revenue source for the mall; which until this, had a sole income type: rentals. 

    citymall parking comments-1

    Well, not exactly "one" additional revenue source actually. They get two. Not only are the CityMall visitors paying an hourly rate, CityMall has made its parking tickets an advertising medium that starts at about 8,000$; not so bad, ey?

    citymall parking comments-2

    Nonetheless, this is not the only factor. CityMall has been suffering from a syndrome on the malls market in Lebanon, maybe because of its location, or the presence of a supermarket on its premises; most likely both factors played a role; but the end result is one. 

    citymall parking comments-3

    CityMall has gained a big market share of medium to low income shoppers (a majority, but not to be generalized on all clients). Could the paid parking play a positive role on the long term in that regard?

    citymall parking comments-4

    For the moment, they sure managed to kick out 50% of their clients (personal and random estimation). If you have been to CityMall lately, you will instantly note the ease in which you are to find a parking spot; but mostly, you will be shocked at the sight of the half-empty parking lot. 

    citymall parking comments-5

    Could they manage to gain a bigger market share of the middle to high-end customers on the long run?

    citymall parking comments-6

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