October 2012

Make a person think something, and they’ll know what to do. Make a person feel something, and they’ll do without thinking.

Emotions are some of the strongest forces in nature. I’m sure Newton wasn’t considering them when defining his Law of Inertia, but it works in the same way with people. A mind at rest can be compelled to great action by a surge of adrenaline, and a mind in action can be shut down by deep sadness. Often this force overcomes even the strongest logical reasoning. Think about it. How many times have you heard, “Love is irrational”?

The Visa commercials during the Olympics are always fantastic examples of emotional appeals. Watch this one again:

The first thing I noticed is how the advertisement really isn’t about Visa. In my first post, I mentioned how Axe uses the same strategy in many of it’s commercials. This commercial promotes Michael Phelps and has the company logo at the very end. So why is it compelling? If the commercial makes you proud to be an American, you’ll look favorably upon Visa.

Note: This isn’t just an American phenomenon. Visa actually ran different commercials of a similar nature in many countries.  You can check out their Youtube page to see others.

The content of the ad creates this emotional reaction. It shows a video from a time when most Americans who were watching felt anxious, excited, nervous, etc. Every time you watch that commercial, you relive that moment and the emotions that came with it.

It also adds Morgan Freeman’s voice. A large part of nonverbal communication is known as paralinguistic, or vocalics. This is everything that happens when we talk aside from the words we say, things like voice quality, volume and pitch. Morgan Freeman’s deep voice and slow rate of speech mirror techniques used by hypnotists to put people in trances. Trances leave people open to suggestions, especially emotional ones. This article from a hypnosis expert explains how you can create that effect yourself.

Finally, the commercial has some nice, inspirational music playing softly in the background. People tend to agree that music communicates emotion, and Visa uses it for that purpose. These elements work together for an effective appeal.

Thanks for reading another exciting post on Prescribing Reality! Stay tuned for more adventures. Don’t know how? Well, if you go to my home page, you’ll find a button on the right side that let’s you follow my blog. You can also follow me on Twitter @IllusionofMatt. My feed updates every time I post new content. If you have any questions or comments, I love hearing from you. Just post them below.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite. – Matt


First, an aesthetically pleasing picture to grab your attention.

I haven’t posted a while, but it’s time to start again. Summer was crazy busy. I worked as Program Director for a Boy Scout summer camp, so I wasn’t really in any position to use technology much. Now that school has started again, that’s changed, and I’m excited to start pumping out more content. Here are some of the exciting things to look for:

  1. Research on Physical Attractiveness – I’m doing my college thesis attractiveness of models in clothing advertising. We know what the ideal person looks like. If you take pictures of a bunch of faces (same sex) and average them together with a computer program, you get a very accurate approximation of the ideal person. What I want to know is how much more attractive that ideal is than models, and why.
  2. Persuasion Theory in Advertising – I want to post some more commercials and break them down. Why are so many of the things we see so compelling? Marketers use specific tactics to get our attention and force us to behave the way they prescribe. It’s a fascinating science with a lot more detail than most people realize.
  3. The Superbowl Archives – I promised this before, but it hasn’t happened yet. Well, it’s going to. I insist.

That’s my plan for now. If you want me to discuss anything, leave a comment below. I’ll do my best to answer any questions. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @IllusionofMatt, and follow my blog to stay up to date. There’s a button on the right side of the home page.

I hope you all live forever. – Matt