Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand how advertisers study and analyze consumers and construct communication processes to reach them:
Do you ever get much sleep when you’re on an airplane? Most people don’t, and that’s a problem for airline commuters who travel the globe. With an eye toward serving the public better, Continental Airlines has decided to retrofit many of its planes with new lie-flat seats. The new seats will be in premium sections of aircraft and will allow passengers to lie completely flat. Another feature of the new seats is their size—they will give customers six and a half feet of sleeping space without appreciably impacting cabin space. Continental hasn’t forgotten gadgetry for the new seats and their occupants. Each seat will be equipped with laptop power, headsets, and USB ports.
Considering that Continental wants to introduce its new seats this year, what message format would you suggest? What target customer is likely to receive the first messages about the new seat? Explain how your chosen message format will effectively reach the designated target customer.
“Fashions come and go,” as they say; however, with Baby Boomers approaching their sixties, the 1960s seem to be coming back in fashion. AMC’s Mad Men, a stylized adult drama about advertising and ad men (and women) from the 1960s, has grown rapidly in popularity with U.S. television audiences. Period costuming and retro taste cultures have brought back memories and stories to those who grew up in the time period. Smoking, heavy drinking, no seat belts in cars, fascination with early TV, sexism, racism, and sexual harassment in the office are themes that are as common in the program as the ad campaigns that are masterminded by the Mad Men. The uncanny attention to detail in this “period drama” has won the creators critical acclaim.
The viewer of Mad Men will notice rather quickly that 1960s-era Mad Men smoked and encouraged America to smoke. Review information about Mad Men and the 1960s approach to smoking. Review the chapter section on motivation. Assuming the role of a social critic, describe how 1960s-era ad campaigns encouraged smoking. Focus on motivations, involvement, and perceived risk used in these campaigns. Provide illustrations of the motivations if possible.
One of the keys to understanding a consumer’s behavior is to understand how consumers perceive advertising messages. Advertisers often use size, color, position, and novelty to impact consumers’ perception. Inverted Advertising, a Houston-based advertising company, has come up with a new twist on how to reach a mobile population. Consumers often walk, skate, or ride through the organization’s advertising messages. The company uses projected 3-D holograms on sidewalks, ice sheets, walls, ceilings, kiosks, and other smooth surfaces to stimulate consumer perception and gain attention.
Go to the Inverted Advertising Web site at http://www.invertedadvertising.com and review the features and the ad gallery provided. Your assignment is to construct a brief plan for introducing “Inverted Advertising” to a client of your own choosing. Comment on how you might be able to use inverted advertising to reach a designated target audience. Discuss your concept and plan with peers.
As the chapter indicates, subliminal persuasion is “a topic that has captivated the public for more than fifty years.” Basically, subliminal persuasion attempts to reach consumers below the conscious thought or awareness threshold. Validity of the technique is, however, open to serious question by scholars and critics. Review material on subliminal persuasion in the chapter section and use a search engine of your own choosing to find additional information. Be sure to review historical work by Wilson Brian Key during your investigation. Once you understand the concept of subliminal persuasion and its colorful history, take an ethical stance either for or against the technique. Support your position. Describe any examples that would help you defend your position. Participate in a class discussion and present your position and findings.