7 sneaky strategies TV ads use to get you to spend more

With Super Bowl 50 coming up, everyone will be talking about commercials. Sunday’s game is anticipated to be the most-watched television event of the year, reaching over 110 million viewers

It’s a high-stakes time for advertisers, who pay up to $50 million for a 30-second spot. They’re going to make every second count.

Watch those spots carefully: Here are seven classic, sneaky strategies television ads use to get you to spend.

1. They carefully craft slogans to stick in your brain.

According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Business Research and reported on by former Business Insider reporter Aaron Taube, there are three primary factors that determine whether people like a given slogan:

• Clarity of message

• Creativity

• Familiarity with the brand

The study also found that while repeated exposure can help people remember a slogan better, people are unlikely to have a more positive reaction to it simply because they have seen it more frequently.

But you don’t have to like it. Just remembering might be enough: Slogans like Campbell Soup’s “Mmm mmm good,” and Nike’s “Just do it” demonstrate the stickiness of a well-crafted slogan.

Here is Nike’s 2013 “Just do it” campaign:


2. They hook you with a jingle.

Ba da-ba-ba-ba.

You know the first thing that came to mind was McDonald’s. This is the power of the jingle.

According to a study from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, these abbreviated songs are effective because they create memories that evoke emotional responses.

“A good jingle catches the customer’s attention and makes him (or her) think twice about a product; a bad jingle might make a company famous for the wrong reasons, or dissuade people from looking at a certain brand,” writes study author Iveta Karailievová.

You can hear the famous McDonald’s jingle at the end of this 2015 commercial:


3. They don’t let you forget them.

You might think you’re sick of a commercial the tenth time you see it, but advertisers know better: The more times you’re exposed to their product, the more likely you are to remember it … and maybe even buy it.

A 2009 study called “The Economic Psychology of Television Advertising” found that consumers become familiar with and connected to a product the more a company promotes it. So, expect to see that commercial over and over.

Who could forget the Geico gecko who has been appearing in commercials since 1999? Here he is in a 2015 ad:


4. They use celebrities you love.

Fitness and beauty companies like Weight Watchers and Proactive often use celebrities for their advertisements.

A 2010 study led by Dutch researcher Mirre Stallen and published in The Journal of Economic Psychology found that famous faces stir a region of the brain that suggests recognition of the celebrity might connect with positive thoughts.

“The positive emotions that are linked to the celebrity get transferred to the product,” Stallen told the Naked Scientists. “Next time, if you see those products like in a shop or a sale, you have some positive associations with it.” She goes on to explain that these positive associates appear to come from memories linked with that famous face.

For instance, Jennifer Hudson makes you “believe” in this 2011 Weight Watchers ad:

5. They put you in an athlete’s shoes.

Sports are big.

Sportswear company Under Armour has seen a 95% rise in revenue after using sports superstars like NBA basketball player Stephen Curry, star ballerina Misty Copeland, and pro golfer Jordan Spieth in their 2015 campaigns.

Using people who perform the most impressive physical feats in front of the world — and maybe even on the other end of this commercial break — may inspire you to try and do the same. And hopefully, you’ll do it using the advertiser’s products.

Here’s Under Armour’s 2015 “Rule Yourself” commercial featuring the athletes:

6. They use regular people who are just like you.

In some cases, “regular people” can be even more effective than celebrities.

Lucia Moses at AdWeek explains that in an age of reality shows and internet transparency, celebrities are losing some of their shine. In their place, real people representing the typical consumer step up. “The result is creative that stands in stark, sometimes even gritty contrast to the typical super-slick TV spot,” Moses writes.

For instance, who can forget Dove’s classic “Real Beauty,” which was considered one of the most successful ad campaigns of 2013?

7. They offer deals for a limited time only.

Some TV commercials feature limited-edition products or show deals that are available for a “limited time only.”

As The Wall Street Journal reports, this is one of the most popular ways for companies to get shoppers to go out and buy. Putting a constraint on time or availability makes people feel an urgency to pull the trigger and spend.

Here’s Red Lobster’s commercial for the Lobsterfest, an event that only comes once a year:


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