Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why

By Max Sutherland | Go to book overview

29 CONCLUSION

When we die we will have spent an estimated one and a half years just watching ads either on TV or the web. No matter which way you look at it, advertising today takes up a significant chunk of our lives. For that reason if for no other, advertising is an important phenomenon in our society.

As children we wonder about how car engines work, how aircraft fly, or how it is possible to transmit voices invisibly through the air. We also wonder about advertising as we are growing up—but for a quite different reason. Unlike cars and aircraft, ads seem deceptively simple—indeed so blatant and so transparent that it is difficult to understand how they could really persuade anybody. What really puzzles us, then, is why such advertising continues to survive. Is there some secret that advertisers are not telling us? It seems irrefutable that advertising must be doing something to somebody—but what, how and to whom?

This is the traditional view of advertising that has held sway in our society for as long as we can remember. It is a view that has been based on intuition and introspection and which gets fanned from time to time by books alluding to 'the secret' in terms of hidden persuaders or subliminal seductions. This book has tried to present a fuller understanding of the subtleties and complexities of advertising as revealed through the systematic, continuous tracking of advertising campaigns as well as by scientific developments in psychological research into memory and behavior.

This book has tried to demystify advertising by developing an understanding of some of the real psychological mechanisms underlying it. Not all of the mystery is solved because as we have seen, advertising, far from being simple, turns out to be more complex than the traditional view suggests.

To some extent this complexity reflects simplicity in disguise. If you bolt together enough simple things, you get something that appears complex. So the way to begin to understand such seemingly complex

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