Time for Fear – or Greed

Ever notice how ads target our emotions? I mean, they never just give us the facts. Instead they play on our hopes or fears or greed. Take SUVs, for example. They show people driving through forests and across streams, pulling up to the beach at sunrise with a surfboard on top.

Yes, that’s exactly what I would do with my SUV – get a surfboard and take it to the oceanside or the Minnesota mountains.

Or medication. They show us people getting together and laughing, moving about without pain, living life without worries. Not just any life, but one of parties and dinner by candlelight and riding bicycles in the park. And while we’re taking in all that imagery, the fine print informs us of all the little side effects: nausea, cramping, diarrhea, blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, loss of consciousness and in extreme cases – death.

Ask your doctor for details.

Thank God they’re letting us know about these important advances in medicine. Without them, why, doctors would be clueless. They’d have no idea what to prescribe for us. All their years of medical school, internships and residency, combined with their years of practice, mean nothing in the face of a well-placed ad for some drug or other.

And did you ever notice that these drugs are medications you’ll have to take for years or possibly the rest of your life? They aren’t one-off treatments. Big pharma has little interest in creating drugs you’ll only need to take once. They want medications that you’ll need to buy over and over.

And now we’re being flooded with campaign ads, where not only do they target our emotions, they often don’t even bother with telling us truth. They twist words and distort positions and spin their way through snippets of speeches taken out of context or flat-out wrong.

All in pursuit of evoking an emotional response.

Because facts don’t matter. Facts won’t get us to change our minds, at least not for a long time, not until we no longer have a strong emotional investment in the outcome, like years after our preferred candidate has left office. Maybe after they’ve died.

So ads target our gut responses, seeking to change the minds of those susceptible to their savvy. Their creators dismiss the rational thinkers and the firmly entrenched – Those few souls impervious to their siren call. But the rest of us, those who can be moved, they’re gonna hit us hard, hoping to sway just enough to get them over the finish line to profitability or victory.

Because emotional pleas work. History has proven that enough times. We like to think we’re rational, but we’re mostly not. Too bad.

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