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"The secret of all persuasion is to induce the person to persuade himself."
on July 15, 2012
You should watch this program. Why? As Jewel would say in the L'Oreal commercial, "Because you're worth it."
Here was the synopsis that convinced me to watch it: "Each year, legions of ad people, copywriters, market researchers, pollsters, consultants, and even linguists--most of whom work for one of six giant companies--spend billions of dollars and millions of man-hours trying to determine how to persuade consumers what to buy, whom to trust, and what to think. ... This 90-minute documentary explores how the cultures of marketing and advertising have come to influence not only what Americans buy, but also how they view themselves and the world around them."
Although I generally liked it, I was disappointed that very little attention was paid to the last part about how "persuaders" influence how we see ourselves. Most attention was paid to the behind-the-scenes stuff of how marketing works and some of the science/philosophy of it.
I think to summarize it in one sentence, it would be exactly what the guy said at the very end of the program: "The secret of all persuasion is to induce the person to persuade himself." It's all about appealing to the unconscious/emotion/reptilian brain--making you feel (rather than think) that the product/idea/politician/whatever serves your own selfish primal desires.
One marketing guru formed his marketing philosophy by studying why people join cults. The conclusion? People join both cults and brands for two reasons: (1) to belong, (2) to make meaning. "We need to figure out what the world is all about, and we need the company of others. It's as simple as that."
My favorite moment, by far, is at the beginning of Chapter 4 "Science of Selling" when a market researcher probes a poor guy with a very awkward question: "I've got a whole list of emotions here. I just want you to tell me yes or no as to whether you feel that emotion when you're eating white bread.
The guy's eyebrows furl. He pauses. Looks to the side.
"Do you feel accepting when you're eating white bread?," the market researcher asks again, as if the guy didn't understand the question.
Another 2-second delay and then the guy finally answers, "Yeah. I would say yes," in the least convincing possible way.
P.S. - All Frontline programs are available for free online. There is a Wikipedia page ("List of Frontline (PBS) episodes") with links to and brief descriptions of all of them.