John Bargh's Theory Of Emotional Advertising

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John Bargh’s theory of automaticity stipulates that our behavior is governed predominately by subconscious cognitive processes. Therefore, in order for an attitude to elicit deliberate action, it must be brought into our conscious awareness. This activation process relies on memory cues, or mental “tags,” created most effectively through emotional experience. For this reason, the power of advertising lies in the premeditated association of symbols with emotion, which serves to reflect societal values and link them to previously unrelated products. The efficacy of an advertisement is contingent upon the emotion it evokes that is then, in turn, linked with the product. These sentiments reflect both inherent and elicited human desires for love, …show more content…
The use of emotional advertising is evident in a Downy fabric softener commercial, which features a young couple “ripping each other’s clothes on.” The girl—freckled and blue-eyed—captivates the audience with her radiance. She begins standing in her underwear, the camera focused on her bare torso, the sunlight soaking both silhouettes in a warm glow. Her partner—who is also conventionally handsome—slips a soft gray T-shirt over her head and spins her around. She laughs, coy yet comfortable, and helps him pull his jeans on. They take their act to the kitchen table, then the living room couch. All the while they are dressing each other with lighthearted tenderness—a dance between partners—until, finally, they collapse onto their duvet, fully clothed in cozy cashmeres and knits, eyes locked in endearment and smiles spread across their faces. This “feel-good” commercial conjures a sensation of warmth, youth, and compassion—and yet, there is no direct tie between fabric softener and intimacy. According to the 1997 film, “The Ad and the Ego,” symbols are a powerful force of persuasion because they elicit emotion, which enhances memory retention. For this reason,

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