Love for Sale?

Have you noticed? Advertisers are using longing, love and Al Green to sell us more stuff.

Advertisers are using love to wrap us and their products in one big All-Consuming Embrace. Take another look at these 7 commercials:

1) Subaru makes some good cars, but this commercial seem to suggest we should love our automobiles like we do our partners, kids, and dogs.

2) Did you know pizza functions as sacrament at family love feasts? “When you get together around a Papa Murphy’s pizza,” says the spot, you can experience “Love at 425 degrees.”

3) Johnson & Johnson’s new branding campaign, “For All You Love,” features evocative images of parents and kids. Cute, but the New York Times suggests J&J may be trying to powder over the $68 billion corporation’s recent problems with massive product recalls and consumer lawsuits.

4) “Love” fills the final screen of a recent spot for heart-healthy Cheerios. But apparently, not everyone was feeling the love. The commercial’s multiracial family (the cute kid has a white mother and black father) has generated online racist comments.

5) Love your dog? “Keep love strong” with Iams dogfood. Installments in the “Keep love strong” campaign tug at your heart by featuring a woman returning to her beloved pet following a military deployment or a girl putting lipstick on her dog.


6) Starbucks claims its rewards program is OUR WAY OF LOVING YOU BACK in print ads that invite readers to “see how rewarding a friendship can be.”

7) “I’m so in love with you” croons Al Green, in his 1971 #1 hit, “Let’s Stay Together,” which was used in this commercial featuring¬† Meanwhile, an alluring woman enjoys an intimate moment with some Lay’s potato chips. “One taste and you’re in love,” says the voice-over.

Vance Packard’s 1957 book, The Hidden Persuaders, explained why “professional persuaders” (guys like “Mad Men’s” Don Draper) used insights from psychiatry and social science to create commercial imagery that bypassed our brains and went straight for our gooey core:

…they see us as bundles of daydreams, misty hidden yearnings, guilt complexes, irrational emotional blockages. We are image lovers given to impulsive and compulsive acts.

More than half a century later, some still create commercial come-ons that exploit the deepest affections of the human heart. But in the last line of his song, told us how to handle people who mess with our emotions:

  And if you do me wrong, I just might leave you alone.


Posted in Blog, Mixed Media

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