Ad agencies have been selling us a lot more than just products.
Have you ever loved a commercial so much that you wanted to buy the product it was selling? Or maybe you chose a particular company’s product because their slogan was so memorable, or you felt like the company was reputable and cared about the products they created because their packaging said so?
Whether or not we realize it, we’re easily influenced and manipulated by brilliant marketing strategies, especially women. From the clothes we wear, to the food we buy, to the personal care products we select, much of our decision to buy that product was thanks to an ad agency and some good marketing.
And while we might assume these ad agencies are only selling products like shampoo, shoes, and makeup from major brands through commercials, magazine ads, and pop-ups, they’re actually selling far more than just simple everyday products — and they don’t keep to commercials, either. Instead, they’re selling us sometimes damaging life advice on news and lifestyle websites, marketing to us through what seems to be friendly advice, empowerment, and self-love, all while guiding us to make life decisions that benefit their company in the long run. Here’s how they do it:
It All Started with Diamond Rings
Today, a diamond ring is an expected facet of any marriage proposal, seen as the ultimate symbol of everlasting love — we’ve all heard that a diamond is forever, right? This idea was actually sold to us by an ad agency for DeBeers, a corporation that mines, sells, and manufactures diamonds, originally created to drive up the price of diamonds when enormous diamond mines were discovered in South Africa in the late 1800s.
Over the following decades, diamonds became the ultimate mark of romance, commitment, and a couple’s indestructible bond. But it didn’t stop there — the bigger the diamond and more expensive the ring, the stronger a couple’s love, supposedly.
Today, the average engagement ring costs $5,900, a staggeringly high price tag, even though diamonds are actually worth less than 50% of what was paid. Still, DeBeers’ campaigns played on our emotions, leading us to believe we’d be happier and more in love with bigger diamonds on our fingers.
Ad Agencies Constantly Play on Emotions
Marketing companies today know the easiest way to influence us — through our emotions. These days, self-love is a favorite buzzword among Millennials and Gen Zers, often touted as the most fulfilling love, especially when we’re feeling down or overworked. We buy ourselves new clothes, bath bombs, and makeup to treat ourselves through retail therapy.
Ad companies see this and encourage it through promotions and gift cards, giving us an excuse to invest in our happiness by spending more money on their products. In reality, treating ourselves is a brilliant marketing scheme that has very little to do with actually improving our lives, leading Millennials to have high rates of credit card debt.
They Also Want Us To Stay Single
It’s no secret that marriage rates have declined, and it’s actually in a marketing company’s best interest to keep it that way. Just ask Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company that created an occasion to celebrate all the singles out there called Single’s Day. Single’s Day is a one-day shopping festival on Nov. 11, and last year, Alibaba raked in over $30 billion in sales. (It’s bigger than Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I mean, Taylor Swift sang at a gala to kick off the event!)
Advertising companies would like us to believe marriage is outdated because it means more money for them. Single women are prone to spend far more money on food, beauty products, and traveling than any other demographic. Why? Because young, unattached professional women will more likely have disposable income to spend on relatively frivolous products, since they aren’t focused on taking care of children or a husband. But despite the idea that staying single will lead to more happiness, studies have shown that married couples are actually happier.
And They Really Want Us To Stay Childless
Most women have, at some point, been on the pill. We’re first sold the idea when we go to the Ob/Gyn’s office as pimple-ridden teenagers, experiencing issues with our menstrual cycles. The pill, they say, will help clear up our pesky acne and give us regular, predictable periods — sounds like a no-brainer, right?
What none of us are told is that this is actually a sneaky marketing strategy, hoping to get us hooked on the pill early in life in order to make more sales despite the known dangers of taking the pill — such as an increased risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, and depression (which, by the way, big pharma would love to help us out with). But pharmaceutical companies continue to push the pill because it’s lucrative, according to a study that shows the pill is the biggest moneymaker of the contraceptives drug market.
While advertising agencies aren’t all evil, it’s important to understand that much more than the clothes we wear were sold to us, but instead, our lifestyles. Much of what we consume, think, and do with our time was marketed to us with intention, sold to us with the hope that we’ll come back and spend more.