Lesson 3: Media Studies

Advertising Techniques

Today every company needs to advertise its product to inform the customers about the product, increase the sales, acquire market value, and gain reputation and name in the industry. Every business spends lot of money for advertising their products but the money spent will lead to success only when the best techniques of advertising are used for the product. So here are some very common and most used techniques used by the advertisers to get desired results.


Emotional Appeal

This technique of advertising is done with help of two factors: needs of consumers and fear factor.

Most common appeals under need are: need for something new, need for getting acceptance, need for not being ignored, need for change of old things, need for security, need to become attractive, etc.

Most common appeals under fear are: fear of accident, fear of death, fear of being avoided, fear of getting sick, fear of getting old, etc.


Promotional Advertising

This technique involves giving away samples of the product for free to the consumers. The items are offered in the trade fairs, promotional events, and ad campaigns in order to gain the attention of the customers.


Bandwagon Advertising

This type of technique involves convincing the customers to join the group of people who have bought this product and be on the winning side. For example recent Pantene shampoo ad which says “150 million women trusted Pantene, and you?”


Facts and Statistics

Here, advertisers use numbers, proofs, and real examples to show how good their product works. For e.g. “Lizol floor cleaner cleans 99.99% germs” or “Colgate is recommended by 70% of the dentists of the world”


Unfinished Ads

The advertisers here just play with words by saying that their product works better but don’t answer how much more than the competitor. For example Lays - no one can eat just one. The ads don’t say who can eat more.


Weasel Words

In this technique, the advertisers don’t say that they are the best from the rest, but don’t also deny. They use “weasel words” to suggest a positive meaning without actually really making any guarantee. For example,  Sunsilk Hairfall Solution - reduces hair fall. The ad doesn’t say stops hair fall. Or . . . a dish soap leaves dishes virtually spotless.



The advertisers use celebrities to advertise their products. The celebrities endorse the product by telling their own experiences with the product.


Complementing the Customers

Here, the advertisers used punch lines which complement the consumers who buy their products. For example, Revlon says “Because you are worth it.”


Ideal Family and Ideal Kids

The advertisers using this technique show that the families or kids using their product are a happy go lucky family. The ad always has a neat and well furnished home, well mannered kids and the family is a simple and sweet kind of family. E.g. a dettol soap ad shows everyone in the family using that soap and so is always protected from germs. They show a florescent colour line covering whole body of each family member when compared to other people who don’t use this soap.


Patriotic Advertisements

These ads show how one can support their country while he uses their product or service. For e. g some products together formed a union and claimed in their ad that if you buy any one of these products, you are going to help a child to go to school.


Questioning the Customers

The advertisers using this technique ask questions to the consumers to get response for their products. For example,  Amway advertisement keeps on asking questions like who has so many farms completely organic in nature, who gives the strength to climb up the stairs at the age of 70, who makes the kids grow in a proper and nutritious ways, is there anyone who is listening to these entire questions. And then at last the answer comes . . . “Amway : We are Listening.”



This technique is used to bribe the customers with some thing extra if they buy the product using lines like “buy one shirt and get one free”, or “give us your email address and get 10% off your first online purchase”




Surrogate Advertising

This technique is generally used by the companies which cannot advertise their products directly. The advertisers use indirect advertisements to advertise their product so that the customers know about the actual product. The biggest example of this technique is liquor ads. These ads never show anyone drinking actual liquor and in place of that they are shown drinking some mineral water, soft drink or soda


Avante Garde

The suggestion that using this product puts the user ahead of the times. Often used in toy ads or new technologies (cell phones, tablets, watches, etc.)


Magic Ingredients

The suggestion that some almost miraculous discovery makes the product exceptionally effective. For example, a pharmaceutical manufacturer describes a special coating that makes their pain reliever less irritating to the stomach than a competitor’s


Snob Appeal

The suggestion that the use of the product makes the customer part of an elite group with a luxurious and glamorous lifestyle. For example, an ad for a designer purse shows a model dressed in a formal gown leaning against a luxury sedan in an exotic location.





Analyzing Persuasive Techniques in Advertising


Persuasive Techniques

How It Is Used

Intended Effect


Uses the argument that a person should believe or do something because “everyone else” does

  • Consumers buy the product because they want to fit in.
  • Consumers assume that if others buy it, the product must be good

Bait and Switch

Dishonest tactic in which a salesperson lures customers into a store with the promise of a bargain

Consumers are persuaded to buy a more expensive item

Celebrity Spokesperson

Uses a celebrity or famous person to endorse a product

Consumers transfer admiration of respect for the celebrity to the product

Emotional Appeal

Makes viewers feel certain emotions, such as excitement, sadness, or fear

Audience transfers that feeling to the product

Glittering Generalities

Emphasizes highly valued beliefs, such as patriotism, peace or freedom

Consumers accept this information, often without enough real evidence to support the claim


Used to make audiences laugh, but provides little information about the product or service

Consumers remember the ad and associate positive feelings with the product


Appeals to consumers’ desire to be different from everyone else; the opposite of the bandwagon appeal.

Consumers celebrate their own style, or rebel against what others are doing

Consumers perceive the product as unique, stylish, or cool

Loaded Language

Used words with positive or negative connotations to describe a product or that of a competitor – such as purr, snarl, or weasel words

The words appeal to consumers’ emotions, rather than their reason

Purr words, such as “fresh” or “juicy” make a product seem more desirable


Attacks people or groups to discredit their ideas

Consumers focus on the attack rather than the issues

Plain Folk

Shows ordinary people using or supporting a product or candidate

Consumers trust the product because it is good enough for regular “folk”

Product Comparison

Compares a product with the “inferior” competition

Consumers believe the feature product is superior





Marketing to Kids . . . Advertising Strategies


Advertisers have many methods to try and get you to buy their products. Lots of times, what they are selling is a lifestyle, or an image, rather than the product. Here are some tricks of the trade.


Ideal Kids (or families) – always seem perfect. The kids are really hip looking, with the hottest fashions, haircuts and toys. Ideal families are all attractive and pleasant looking – and everyone seems to get along. Ideal kids and families represent the types of people that kids watching the ad would like themselves or their families to be


Family Fun – a product is shown as something that brings families together, or helps them have fun together; all it takes is for Mom or Dad to bring home the “right” food, and a ho-hum dinner turns into a family party


Excitement – who could ever have imagined that food could be so much fun? One bite of a snack food and you’re surfing in California, or soaring on your skateboard!


Star Power – your favourite sports star or celebrity is telling you that their product is the best! Kids listen, not realizing that the star is being paid to promote the product.


Bandwagon – join the crowd! Don’t be left out! Everyone is buying the latest snack food: aren’t you?


Scale – is when advertisers make a product look bigger or smaller than it actually is.


Put Downs – when you put down your competition’s product to make your own product seem better.


Facts and Figures – when you use facts and statistics to enhance your product’s credibility


Repetition – advertisers hope that if you see a product, or hear its name over and over again, you will be more likely to buy it. Sometimes the same commercial will be repeated over and over again.

Heart Strings – ads that draw you into a story and make you feel good, like the McDonalds commercial where the dad and son are shoveling their driveway and the son treats his poor old dad to lunch at McDonalds when they are done


Sounds Good – music and other sound effects add to the excitement of commercials, especially commercials aimed at kids. Those little jingles, that you just can’t get out of your head, are another type of music used to make you think of a product. Have you ever noticed that the volume of commercials is higher than the sound for the program that follows?


Cartoon Characters – Tony the Tiger sells cereal and the Nestles Quick Bunny sells chocolate milk. Cartoons like these make kids identify with products


Weasel Words – by law, advertisers have to tell the truth, but sometimes, they use words that can mislead viewers. Look for words in commercials like: “Part of …”, “The taste of real…”, “New, better tasting…” There are hundreds of these deceptive phrases.


Omission – where advertisers don’t give you the full story about their product. For example, when a Pop Tart claims to be “part” of a healthy breakfast, it doesn’t mention that the breakfast might still be healthy whether this product is there or not.


Are you Cool Enough? – this is when advertisers try to convince you that if you don’t use their products, you are a nerd. Usually advertisers do this by showing people who look uncool trying a product and then suddenly becoming hip looking and do cool things.




How to Analyze Persuasive Techniques in Advertising

Understanding persuasive techniques can help you evaluate the messages that surround you and identify misleading information. Here’s how:


  1. Consider the Message and the Audience

The obvious goal of most ads is to get you to buy a product or “buy into” an idea. When you understand the message and the audience, you can determine which techniques are being used and why. Ask yourself:

  • What is the message? What does the ad want the consumer to buy?
  • Who is the audience? Does the ad appeal to certain emotions or beliefs? What do those emotions or beliefs tell you about the audience?


  1. Spot the Persuasive Techniques

Advertisers strive to make each ad memorable, convincing, and exciting. Characters, slogans, text, and sounds are all part of the persuasive technique. Ask yourself:

  • Who appears in the ad? The people who appear in the ad often reflect the target audience or whom members of that audience are likely to admire. Advertisers might choose specific celebrities to endorse products because they want the audience to associate the celebrity with the product. Actors, athletes or models might be chosen for many reasons. For example, they might be people just like the audience (plain folk), rebellious or unique (individuality) or “one of the crowd” (bandwagon)
  • Does the ad appeal to emotion or to logic? Many ads today don’t provide information about the product, and some ads don’t even show the product. Instead, ads appeal to the audience’s emotions, such as pity, fear, or vanity. For example, commercials for telephone companies often appeal to viewers’ emotions of happiness or nostalgia to leave them with a positive feeling about their product and company. Some ads use humour to persuade an audience.
  • What language is used? Every word in an ad counts, but not all words actually inform the audience. Loaded language, including purr, snarl, and weasel words, appeal to the audience’s emotions rather than their reason. Purr words . . . such as “tasty” and “sensational” . . . can make a product seem more desirable.
  • Does the slogan stick?  The best slogans are memorable and create an “image” of the product. Slogans are less about the actual product and more about the audience recalling a catchy phrase and associating it with the product.


  1. Understand the intended effects on the target audience

Most ads don’t employ just one persuasive technique. They often use several. Each technique is chosen to appeal specifically to the product’s target audience. Ask yourself: Why do I think these techniques were chosen?  






Activity: Advertising Strategies


  1. Choose TWO of the following strategies and find examples where they were used in advertisement. (print or copy the advertisements and submit with your work)
  2. Briefly describe how the strategy was used and WHY the advertiser might have used this strategy.



Avante Garde: the suggestion that using this product puts the user ahead of the times.

Magic Ingredients: the suggestion that some almost miraculous discovery makes the product exceptionally effective.

Patriotism: the suggestion that purchasing this product shows your love of your country.

Transfer: positive words, images, and ideas are used to suggest that the product being sold is also positive.

Plain Folks: the suggestion that the product is a practical product of good value for ordinary people.

Snob Appeal: the suggestion that the use of the product makes the customer part of an elite group with a luxurious and glamorous lifestyle.

Bribery: offers you something “extra” with the product.

Bandwagon: the suggestion that you should join the crowd or be on the winning side by using a product . . . you don’t want to be the only person without it!