Avoid being fooled by advertisements

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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Avoid being fooled by advertisements

It’s 3 a.m., the TV hums quietly in the background as you drift in and out of sleep. You catch the voice of your favorite actress. She’s promoting something. You turn up the TV.

It’s anti-aging cream.

Do you need anti-aging cream? You’re only 19. Should you call the 1-800 number? It says they will give you two for the price of one if the call is in the next 15 seconds. Should you order 10 of them?

Commercials dig deep into the center of our minds to pick away at what affects us most.

They’re smart and tricky. To not be fooled, you must be at the top of your game.

As much as we would like to believe our day-to-day choices are products of our rational thought processes, they rarely are when it comes to consumerism.

“Fact is that most of our decisions in daily life are made on an unconscious level, which means we are quite vulnerable to persuasion attempts which affect our unconsciousness,” said Marc Andrews, author of “Hidden Persuasions: 33 Psychological Influences Techniques in Advertising.”

The following are common examples of sneaky ways that companies lure you to their products.


Advertisers will knowingly choose their models or actors based on their facial symmetry.

There have been numerous studies focused on which type of face people respond most positively to.

Advertisers cast based on facial width-to-height ratio, meaning the distance between the far ends of the cheekbones and the distance from the upper lip to the eyebrows.

The results show that the more feminine a face is, the more trustworthy it seems.


Advertisers know you don’t like being told what to do. They know you like to be the pilot of your own life, so they won’t dare tell you what to purchase.

However, advertisers know that by playing to the fact that you love making your own choices, they make the choice for you. They are the experts of reverse psychology. Do you get more bang for your buck if the ad is sexy or erotic? Yes. Pun intended.

Advertisers will often use nudity, strong men or pin-up girls to sell a product. Think 1950s cigarette ads or the recent Carl’s Jr. ads.

Sex attracts people to the ad.

Whether positive or negative, it elicits an emotional response. People rarely remember what the ad was even selling because they were numbed by the sexual stimuli — that is, until they see the ad again and an emotional response is evoked.

The end game for the advertising companies is to simply be remembered.


Anyone who has taken an intro psychology class is familiar with this concept.

Essentially, this means giving a ridiculous request that will very likely be turned down and following up with a “normal” request that will seem doable in comparison.

This old sales technique is used for anything from cars to cruise prices.

An example of this is the girl who left a note on her bed saying she decided to drop out of high school and run away with her new boyfriend to the Middle East.

At the end of the letter she explains that she actually just wants to go out on a school night, a small request compared to the first.

Never forget, everybody wants something from you. Nothing in life is free.

There’s nothing to be said for a house filled with Snuggies, Shake Weights and selfie sticks. Stay skeptical.

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Avoid being fooled by advertisements