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Advertising as a Way to Manipulate the Mind of the Target Audience


Traditionally the concept of the advertisement has been governed precisely by the factors of promotion and profits. ” However, is it more than that? The dynamism in consumer preferences and the changing techniques, ob, and values of the advertiser has remodeled the concept of advertisement. Now, I believe that advertising means trying to persuade or influence people so that they may buy the advertised products even though they may not be willing to buy them initially. My opinion is that advertisers are basically governed by the objective to make sales, but they achieve this through stylistic manipulation of the target clientele’s minds. Meyers (1999, p.212) states that ‘… consumers are more vulnerable to ads now because promotional culture has colonized so many other discourses that might provide alternatives.

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Classification of Advertisements

The expansions of the global market competitions and policies of advertisement have meant that advertising remains the bargaining ground that determines success or failure in the product market. No one can escape from the bombardment of advertisements everywhere – in magazines, newspapers, on trains, even in books – anywhere they can be placed. Wells, Burnett & Moriarty (1995, p.564) claim that ‘Out-of-home advertising has taken giant steps to target specific people with specific messages at a time when they are most susceptible to its impact’.

In this paper, we shall compare advertising strategies adopted by two types of consumer products. We shall focus on two categories of products: “status symbol” products, such as fragrances; and “functional” products, such as household cleaning agents. Hence, ‘what product category do the advertised commodities fall into?’ (Fowles 1996, p.171). In order for the advertisement to work effectively, the product must be directed at the correct audience.

Let us first analyze the “status symbol” product category.

One advertisement was the Dolce and Gabbana’s (D&G) Anthology – ‘Different Colours for Different Moods’, a series of scents for men and women. This advertisement contained many attractive male and female models such as Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell. The music for the advertisement, titled ‘Freedom’, is sung by George Michael. The models are seen removing their robes at the end of the advertisement. The technique of aligning cards to lifestyle is most manifest in some fragrances which are made to represent tarot cards. The specific perfumes are made in ways that link them with specific attributes of the character of the cards. This technique achieves a quality of naturalization whereby the product becomes accepted by the target clientele as the most ideal. The five scents presented in glass flagons, “topped with grooved black caps and embossed with black & white labels” have their own names and are created “without a target, age or gender barriers”. Perhaps through the possession or use of the product, it wills ‘self transform (Tolson 1996, p.74) the consumer in making them feel better.

Advertisements do not follow the binary opposite of gender. They are never strictly classified as either male or female but the distinctions are made in ways that leave room for the satisfaction of clients from either gender who might be interested in the advert but who fall outside the circumference of the targeted market. The feminine or masculine attributes in the adverts are therefore captured in techniques and styles that are not entirely exclusivist.

Wernick (1994, p.49) states that ‘the promotion of fragrance to heterosexual males, for example, involves a break with the formula that men hunt, women attract…’. The inversion of the socially constructed roles of men in advertisements is one technique through which the male clientele is reached more effectively.

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There is even more to fragrance product design than simply being eye-catching. Many are trying to make a statement with their design which reflects what their product represents and what demographic they are aiming it at. As such, the range of designs is massive with products tailored to appeal based on age, gender, and even hobbies. (Adidas fragrances are clearly aimed at sporty individuals). Pountain and Robins (2000, p.169) claim that ‘advertising portrays a constantly updated collage of personal styles, postures, and entertainments designed both to reflect and affect the way people think and feel about themselves and their society…’. This might imply therefore that attitudes and mentalities are as important to advertisement firms as actual needs.

Great examples of design taking the front seat are Diesel’s ‘Only the Brave’ for men and the range of Jean Paul Gaultier perfume. The Diesel fragrances bottle is shaped like a fist with the clear intent of portraying a masculine image to appeal to men. The Jean-Paul Gaultier bottles are shaped like the male and female forms respectively. Less obvious is the Lacoste ‘Joy of pink’ design. Its demographic is clearly young women and its sleek colorful bottle design is tailored toward this.

Perfumes that target women may also carry some masculine signs and signifiers but generally, these are made less prominent than the other signs and tropes that are essentially feminine. This ensures that the scope of reach gets to most forms of feminine values and preferences or more importantly to men who are naturally given to feminine values.

Some fragrances meant for women have names such as Radiance, Eternity, and Diamonds.

If you consider the fact that when browsing for a product you are attracted by the design before you get the chance to smell it, it begins to make sense. The designers are clearly well aware of this. The abstract and unusual designs are applied to the bottles to draw your attention. It is a fact that by making unusual designs, they are more likely to make the product draw your attention and be unforgettable. It is clear that the design of the packaging does play a major part in the promotion of fragrances. This is not to rule out the influence of advertising and reputation as each clearly plays a part in the promotion of the product. In such a major industry, fragrance designers can afford the luxury of elaborate design and advertising.

The fragrance advertisements are advertisements for “status symbol” products. In each of the advertisements, attractive people are used to trying to sell the product. It is a tactic of self-fulfilling prophecy that is people look at the ads and believe that they, too, can be that beautiful person in the advertisement.

Let us now look at the “functional” category of products.

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The element of diversity is key to a successful advertisement of functional products. This diversity is often represented in the diverse ways in which these items are advertised. The most common way is the multiple advertising techniques through which these items are advertised either physically or through the use of audio-visual techniques. In this manner, the chief aim of the advertiser is to increase the scope of reach and influence of the product in the world of his target clients. This increase in the physical presence of the item in the physical form of audio-visual adverts is a technique that creates some form of a subliminal effect on the buyers who often end up buying the item.

The advertisements that target the male clientele are mostly modeled around male characters who vibrate with some form of heroism. For the male characters, the body structure of the male idol is the supreme code. It carries the connotations and signs of strength, power, and success. The mission of the advert, therefore, is to create a sensationalized aspect of male superiority around which the specific forms of masculinity shall ultimately revolve. The tight-fitting garments and the show of biceps have come to illustrate the male idol on advertisement as the commodity code that shepherds the male clientele into seeking conformity with this idolized hero. The social values, roles, and the rhythm of life of successful male characters in various fields are celebrated through the use of synchronic connotations that capture aspects of success associated with the advertised product (Leiss, Stephen, & Sut 1990, p.207).

Status symbol and functional categories of advertisements are mostly tailor-made with specifics of the target audience. In this manner, it becomes therefore possible for the advertiser to ignore other advertisement tropes that do not fall within the scope of the targeted group. The use of Mr. Muscle as a sign or code in the advertisement might not attract the sensibilities of the clients with a feminized outlook on life. The key factor in this manner is therefore effective targeting of the select niche of clients and not glamour. The privileging of effectiveness over glamour as a technique in marketing aligns with the result-oriented policies that have come to define the advertising world.

The question of functionality in product advertisement however loses its bargain in the event where the products are basically fetish products such as fragrances and perfumes. This means that effective advertisement of such products must be aligned with the rhythms of class. Creating chances for a product on the market involves the skillful association between the product and the target class for which it was made. The use of profiled individuals of high social standing as a connotation of class sensitivity is a technique that ensures that the product as advertised suits the preferences of the target clientele. The implication is that creativity, certitude, and specificity are the governing structures that determine success or failure in the domain of advertisement.


Advertisement is a terrain that needs the manipulation of style, focus, and timing for maximum effect. The messages of most advertisements are might not be casual to the casual observer because many of them are trained for psychological reception. The packaging of an advert succeeds or fails to depend on how well the creator fashions out his signs, signifiers, and codes to endear the product to the specific clientele.

Reference List

Adidas advertisement, Web.

AJAX advertisement, 2010, Web.

Anthology advertisement, 2010, Web.

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BAM advertisement, 2010, Web.

Diamonds advertisement, 2010, Web.

Diesel advertisement, 2010, Web.

Eternity advertisement, 2010, Web.

Fowles, Jib 1996, ‘Deciphering advertisements’, Advertising and Popular Culture, Sage, London, p.167-183.

Jean Paul Gaultier advertisement, 2010, Web.

Lacoste advertisement, 2010, Web.

Leiss, William, Stephen, Kline & Sut, Jhally 1990, Social communication in Advertising, Routledge, London.

Leymore, V L 1975, Hidden myth: structure and symbolism in advertising, Basic Books, New York.

Meyers, G 1999, ‘Advertising literacies: what do audiences know?’, Ad Worlds, Greg Meyers, London: Arnold, p. 203-215.

Mr Muscle advertisement, 2010, Web.

Polo Ralph Lauren advertisement, 2010, Web.

Pountain, D, & Robins, D 2000, Cool rules, Reaktion Books, London.

Radiance advertisement, 2010, Web.

Tolson, A 1996, ‘Modes of address in TV advertising (1956-90)’, Mediations, London: Arnold, p.70-79.

Wells, W, Burnett, J, & Moriarty, S 1995, ‘Out of home advertising’, Advertising, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, p. 563-574.

Wernick, A 1994, ‘(Re-) imaging gender: the case of men’, Promotional Culture, London: Sage, p.48-66.

Windex advertisement, 2010, Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Advertising as a Way to Manipulate the Mind of the Target Audience." January 6, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "Advertising as a Way to Manipulate the Mind of the Target Audience." January 6, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Advertising as a Way to Manipulate the Mind of the Target Audience'. 6 January.

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