Advertising has a history of employing various tools and tricks to boost sales. Nowadays, thanks to sophisticated technology, “…businesses, marketers, advertisers, and retailers have gotten far craftier, savvier, and more sinister,” writes marketer and consumer advocate Martin Lindstrom in his book Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy.
In it, Lindstrom reveals the many ploys companies use to seduce, soothe, tempt and scare us into buying their products. Here are a few tidbits from the book to help you become a smarter, sharper consumer.
1. They mix amusement with ads.
Some food companies disguise their ads as entertainment, which of course is especially appealing to kids. According to a 2009 report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, the biggest cereal companies, General Mills, Kellogg’s and Post used games to peddle their least nutritious cereals.
For instance, Lucky Charms has a game on their website that lets kids track Lucky the Leprechaun’s various adventures, and Honey Nut Cheerios lets kids create a comic strip with the mascot BuzzBee.
Lindstrom says that using games as ads greatly benefits companies in important ways: “They allow marketers to circumvent the regulations on advertising junk food on television”; “they spread virally…[kids] unwittingly become guerrilla brand ambassadors; and “these games are inherently addictive in nature.”
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