Thirty Second Story Telling

During the 47th Superbowl, Hyundai premiered an ad for their newest edition of the Santa  Fe. You see the father going on adventures with his children and at the end of each activity, the father would say “Don’t tell Mom” implying that the memories they are making would not make great stories to tell their mother. The commercial even says “The best stories you’ll ever tell start with don’t tell.” The commercial harbors some key mythic archetypes and even implies some. The “father” is represented here in, well, the father of the story. He plays the role of the leader, even though he is leading his kids into some hi-jinks. And it is implied that there is a “mother” archetype found in the mother of the story, that she embodies security which might not be found in the adventures the father and children are going on. But it is found that the mother in the story is actually the “maiden.”  She is not the maiden that is seductive, but she does emphasize her youth when she and her son parachute down into a field where their Santa Fe is conveniently parked where she says “Don’t tell Dad.”

Advertisements often use three story telling elements: setting, plot, and characters. This is easily seen in the Hyundai commercial. The characters are obviously represented by the family; the adventurous parents and children that are always willing to go along with the plan. The plot is how Hyundai is trying to sell their car, that it is versatile, and always there to get you to and from your adventures. I found that this ties in nicely with the setting that I believe is the Santa Fe itself. While the story jumps quickly from place to place, the Santa Fe is almost a constant in every one.

Information taken from: The Hyundai Santa Fe advert, and Woodward and Denton Advertising as Myth 288-290 .

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Your Vocabulary Mystifies Me…Let’s Do Business

When I’m inevitably asked by anyone who knows I go to college what my major is, the response is often…”Communication and what?” I then explain the rhetoric aspect of my major, basically, the persuasion side. “Oh, so you can get people to do whatever you want?” ….Sure. All I have to do is throw out some vocabulary terms I learned in class and they’re mystified. Apparently, I can even trick people into thinking I’m a CFP if only I employ mystification:


As a student studying persuasion, I’d like to think (as I’m sure everyone does) that I am immune to such persuasive ploys–but it appears Dreadlocked DJ/Part-time CFP Man had an easy time mystifying his potential clients. How? Woodward and Denton explain, “often the impressive display of language or the staging of one’s own environment is enough to ward off challenges from opponents.” First, the advertisers created an office with a fictitious company name–we often assume that companies comprised of last names are respectable and professional. However, a simple Google search told me that there is no such place as Miller & Koehler. Second, the “CFP” threw out some financial jargon like “401K” and “asset allocation” and there you have it, a certifiable CFP…kinda. These potential clients seem really convinced that Dreadlock Man is the guy to plan their retirement. Yikes.




Woodward and Denton do not offer us any defenses against mystification, so it is up to the persuadee to be intuitive and informed. Do research, ask questions, ask for clarification on words or terms you do not understand…especially if you’re talking about something like retirement. I don’t mean to imply everyone’s out to fool you, maybe they’re just out to make a clever commercial.

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The Flappy Bird Effect

Mike Beckwith

In our society, we tend to take a lot of things for granted. We never really consider a phone app as being one of those things we take for granted. One of the greatest examples of scarcity when it comes to a phone app (or perhaps, the only one) involves the game “Flappy Bird.”

The format of Flappy Bird is nothing we haven’t seen before, much like the helicopter games that have been around for years. The object is to not let the helicopter touch the walls as it progresses through a cave by tapping or clicking on the screen. Flappy Bird used the same formula but used a one eyed bird with mario-style pipes sticking out of the ground for the player to avoid.

flappy-bird-infographicThe app met huge success, with the creator making $50,000 a day and growing. After suspecting foul play with why his app was so successful (he believed that bots were involved in helping the app become known) he decided to take it off the market, stating on his twitter feed, “I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, i will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore. This is where scarcity came into play.

After the app was taken off the market, its popularity grew even more, with people curious as to what the game was. Unfortunately, the real version of this game is inaccessible in any form, resulting in app creators making their own copycat versions to capitalize on the success of it. Apple soon restricted anyone from making copies of the game as the app store was being flooded with them.

People with the app still on their phones are putting them up for bid on eBay. When Flappy Bird was released, it was completely free. Just before it was taken off the market, it was also completely free. However, with it no longer being available to anyone, people were desperate to play it and would be willing to pay hundreds of dollars to play it…or even THOUSANDS.

As a result of the app no longer being available on the market, the supply for the app is virtually nonexistent while the demand is ridiculously high. The highest bid for a phone with Flappy Bird installed on it went for $14,900. $14,900! That’s $14,900 than the app is worth! With the scarcity principle in play, people feel like they’re missing out on something that was popular and are willing to pay thousands of times what the game was actually worth. 


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The Masters Influence on Spectators

This weekend’s Masters at Augusta National Golf Club is one of the most popular sporting events in the entire world. Along with the popularity of the event, comes advertising. A major way in which both golf and non golf related companies advertise during these events are attached to the golfers physically through advertisements on their clothes and equipment. For example, Adam Scott (2013 champion) wears a large Mercedes-Benza emblem on his shirt, a Titleist hat and equipment and dons Oakley sunglasses. To the average Joe, this type of advertising may not be persuasive in the slightest. But to golf fans of all skill levels this persuasive technique may work on many.showbiz-adam-scott
This can be seen as a way companies use “liking” in order to persuade potential consumers into their products. The apparel advertising is a way in which companies can use the physical attractiveness, similarity, and association technique all at one time. Like many professional athletes, golfers are seen as attractive around the world. Although one may not be physically attracted to the golfers, spectators may say “wow, Adam looks great in that shirt, I bet it would look great on me as well”. When it comes to the golf brands in which the golfers are sponsored by can persuade viewers greatly. If a weekend golfer sees that a professional uses clubs or accessories that are available to him/her, they believe that this may instantly improve their game. Golf fans also look past just the skills of the professionals and into the off course antics of the players. If fans see a player as trustworthy and honest off of the course via friendliness or charitable donations, it would “make sense” that the brands they represent are the same way.
Next time you see a golfer or any professional athlete for that matter wearing expensive apparel or equipment that you want to buy ask yourself, is this what makes this player so good or is it the thousands of practice hours that we don’t see what improved their game. Maybe then you’ll think twice before making a purchase.

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Click-Whirr and Price-Quality


We have all been the unfortunate victims of persuasion at one time or another. However sometimes our brain plays tricks on us and we essentially persuade ourselves. In Woodward and Denton, the idea of click-whirr is introduced. This states that we create shortcuts in order to behave and make decisions more efficiently than we would be able to otherwise. One of the ways we sometimes do this is through our price-quality connection. We tend to automatically associate higher prices with higher quality when evaluating products and services. This has been proven true with common products such as paint. I used to work as an employee of Sherwin-Williams paint company. We were constantly taught that our products, being of higher price, were also of higher quality. For many cases, this was not the true scenario. However, people would come in to the store to purchase paint and assume that higher price meant higher quality. I have had multiple encounters with customers who would, without consulting me, choose the higher priced products because “the most expensive means the best”. This is not always true. Most of our more expensive products do not automatically equate to our best products. This point was proven so when professional contractors/painters would comment on the lack of quality of our highest price paint. This shows the natural desire to associate higher cost with best quality. This method of click-whirr works because we have so many different options to choose from as far as products go, and we need a relatively fast way to choose between all of them. The message here is that more expensive does not necessarily mean better quality. It is important to do one’s research before assuming quality based on price.


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Thank You (For Your Purchase) Mom

For the recent Olympic games in Sochi Proctor and Gamble put together an advertisement that rather rubbed me the wrong way. Others seemed to love the commercial, however, and I will admit that the spot was incredibly well done. The ad is posted below.

How could I react negatively to this? Simple. The ad completely ignores a father’s support. In my case both my parents are amazing people, but for me it was really my dad who supported me when it came to athletics; my mom was usually too nervous to watch. My mother did, however, support the family in other ways; she made almost all household purchases, for instance, and that is where I feel this advertisement’s true motive lies. Don’t get me wrong, I believe we’re a more equal nation than we’ve been in the past- but I also believe that (generally) mothers tend to have a stronger voice in which household products are preferred. Both of my parents worked but my mom did most of the shopping, and she’s definitely the one who made the purchasing decisions. Without getting further into gender issues, the point is that I feel P&G’s ad is targeted ingratiation. The commercial plays on the transformative appeal of self-esteem in that it makes a mother feel good about what she’s done for her children, and I’d argue the ad also relies on an emotional appeal not listed in Woodward and Denton’s book- love. I find that there’s deception in that the ad comes across as a “thank you”, when really it’s an appeal towards reciprocation. The ad uses language in that most of the dialogue is muted by the music, right up until the clearly voiced “P&G, proud sponsor of moms” at the end. The commercial also employs children, and the list of companies at the end lets the viewer know which companies they should aim their consumerism towards if they do, in fact, wish to reciprocate with P&G and their message.


The commercial is well done, but I find it disingenuous. It is an advertisement after all, an (in this case unconscious) appeal towards purchase, and I feel we must keep that in mind when a company spends so much money on such a seemingly heartfelt message.


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Eavesdropping Can be a Good Thing…right?

As someone who has very bad luck with technology and has had more replacement phones than I would care to admit, I can safely say that you never realize how dependent you are on technology until it’s gone.

After my phone was frozen on the same screen for 15+ hours, I made a trip to the Verizon Wireless store.  Upon arriving, my name was taken down and I was told there would be a wait.  While I waited, I looked down at my frozen phone screen and realized I had nothing to do.  So I did what any normal human being would… I eavesdropped on other people’s conversations.  What?  Don’t act like you’ve never done it!

I heard many interesting stories being told around the room, but the one conversation that particularly caught my attention was that of a sales representative and a family of three. The family was making the decision to switch from basic phones to smart phones.  After they had already agreed to buy three smart phones (each one costing around $200) the salesman needed them to choose a data plan.  They started to discuss prices, the smallest one being $15/month and the largest one being $80/month.



As they discussed their choices I noticed two persuasive techniques being employed.

Both from Cialdini – The contrast principle and markers of authority.  After the family had already shelled out $600 on the phones, the salesman had no problem getting them to agree to the most expensive data plan because it seemed like pocket change compared to the money spent on the phones.  This is known as the contrast principle, which affects the way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another.  The family also had no idea what exactly “data” was or how much of it they would need.


So they turned to the salesman for his expertise.  With the title of being a phone salesman, wearing the uniform, and having the technological trappings, his authority on the subject was easily taken by the family.

After all was said and done, I thought back to when I had purchased my currently broken Android and realized the persuasive techniques that the salesman had used to convince me to buy it, when I had went in with the intentions of buying an Iphone.  You may have won that time Verizon, but this time I have knowledge of persuasion on my side!


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