The Psychology of Advertisement

The Psychology of Advertisement

The Psychology of Advertisement

Watching live cricket, recently held world test championship, on TV, it is difficult to avoid the advertisements (henceforth ads) which appear at a blazing fast speed on the screen as and when the situation arises. The ads try to give a lot of messages to the public in a quick time. It essentially involves various psychological principles to register the ads in our minds.

The ads definitely can’t be avoided and become a part of our life. Their teaching leaves a strong message on any individual, especially the children. The Havells ad, for instance, teaches boys to gift flowers (made of wires!) to female classmates. It is creating gender roles that manifest in individual adolescents as proposing and getting rejected by a girl in crucial years of their life. It is glorifying relationships at a very young age. Such kind of media exposure is likely to get emulated by school-going children as per an experiment by psychologist Albert Bandura

Zomato, on the other hand, has a week’s schedule of what to eat and order. For example, Tuesdays are meant for oriental food and Wednesdays are for Italian only. The meaning of food has actually been changed by such ornamentation.

The hashtags of foodgasm, foodporn, and the neo-culture of clicking a photo before eating is hurting the basic tenets of food as the source of organic growth of humans. It is making food as a pleasure-seeking activity that will further reinforce the learning. It is also promoting the consumerist culture. The more you consume, the more you are happy!

Similarly, the Bajaj pulsar ad for doing stunts with the bike initiates a driving “passion” among youths. The rider seems to be riding with his head on the seat and his body straight. One can easily drive down a stair on a bike.

Definitely, the ad does say “performed by experts” but it’s written in so small and that too at the bottom, hence beyond the cognitive capacity of humans.

Such rash and “creative” driving are certainly one of the reasons for road accidents in India, being the highest in the world.
Persuasion tactics are widely used in the majority of ads. The source attractiveness tactics, being a celebrity, is used quite often. For instance, ad by actors like Shahrukh khan for Bigbasket have boosted their sales. Similarly, Akshay Kumar's ad for wearing a mask and avoiding spitting works wonder for instant behavioral change amidst COVID-19. It also involves the concept of Association learning (Ivan Pavlov), which is used to create a mental link between the product and the actor. So, whenever there is that product, the individual will associate it with the actor, and hence chances of buying it increase further. For example. Paan masala ad by Ajay Devgan.

However, there are certain ads that can teach society some lessons. Like, the Ultratech cement ad puts a woman in an engineering role that is beyond the traditional stereotypical mindset. Similar training by UNESCO in Ethiopia led a female teacher to change the image of males from roles of engineering, medicine, and piloting in textbooks which in turn improved the self-efficacy of adolescent girls. Such innovative methods must be replicated in our primary school textbooks too.

Even Byju’s ad wherein a parent is now being transformed into a partner is commendable. It is imperative for parents to be friends so that the children are open to them. The Havells ad needs to be explained by parents in a friendly manner without attaching any gender specificity to it.

Pharmeasy ad shows that illness can be controlled by ordering medicines, and devices from their site. It is trying to give a sense of psychological control. Generally, people leave it up to God leading to fatalistic attitudes. However, this ad gives an uncertainty avoidance measure which is crucial for coming out of a disease or at least a dignity-filled life if it is a chronic disease.

Awareness ads try to create moderate fear. A growing body of research has given the consensus that if a message creates too much or too less fear then it is not followed by people. These ads try to take the middle path to show moderate fear. For example, RBI awareness ads of risky market instruments, fake OTPs, etc. create fear in the minds of the public. But it is not out rightly mentioning that all your money will be lost. Similarly, Dream11 speaks clearly of the danger and addiction of playing it unlike some ads wherein they hurriedly read to just reduce the time limit of video. Likewise, Mutual funds Sahi hai ad warns the market risks involved in investing, moderately.

Lastly, these ads are not limited to cricket matches and can be easily found on popular channels. And hence, it is advised to exercise caution while watching these ads and at the same time taking lessons from them.

About the Author

Vivek Keshri
Senior Software Engineer.

I am an engineer by profession and currently working in Bosch Global Software Technologies. 

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