The Act Of Advertising

Mitch JoelPosted by

What is the role of advertising?

A paid form of information delivery? An act to persuade someone? A form of lying? It has – without a doubt – evolved over the years. Some might argue that it’s still a spectrum of options from above list. Part of my passion for the marketing industry comes from the fact that I was always fascinated with the creative ways in which new products and services were introduced to society. Still, I was not brought up when ads were blatantly lies and over-embellishments to get people to pay attention to – and buy – something that would never live up to the advertised promise. Consumer protection acts and groups were created over time, and the mass media played a significant role in informing the public of those unscrupulous companies that were lying, cheating and stealing. Now, with consumer reviews and online tools, it’s hard (but still not impossible) for these bad actors to flourish. One can be hopeful that the ads that we’re all exposed to are closer to reality than a con job, because of how connected and transparent the world has become. Still, we all fall for something, right?

So, what’s the difference between persuasion and a con job?

It’s subtle and powerful (and legal). As a marketing professional, we’re all told to study books like Dr. Robert Cialdini‘s Influence, because of its research-based approach to what motivates people. Now, Maria Konnikova (author of Mastermind – How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes) is back with newest book, The Confidence Game – Why We Fall For It Every Time. I was first introduced to Konnikova’s work by Scott Monty, and this week she appeared on Charlie Rose to discuss not only the book, but why the con game works so well, and is so powerful. It’s fascinating and directly related to the work of advertising. In short, a con isn’t about taking something from someone else against their will, it’s about how people willingly give their money away to these unscrupulous individuals.

Watch this… did I do a good job of influencing you to do it? 😉 – Charlie Rose with Maria Konnikova.