7 Psychological Tricks Advertisers Use To Manipulate Us

Advertisements are anywhere and everywhere. Getting your brand name out there is hugely important to gain traffic and beat the competition, but how do you make your business standout? How do advertisers get us to buy their products? In a world completely saturated in advertising, it’s important to make something that’s memorable. Advertisers are able to boil down what makes a good ad into a science, albeit an ethically questionable one. To better look into what some of these tactics are, in this article, we’ll be looking at 7 Psychological Tricks Advertisers Use To Manipulate Us.

1. They Make You Feel Exclusive

People want to feel that they’re unique from others and are more likely to buy brands and products that help them stand out from the crowd. Advertisers know this and tap into it as much as they can. Surely if owning a certain product will put you in a special crowd, you’ll feel more compelled to buy it. Reverse psychology comes into play by making your brand seem more exclusive, which in turn will make more people will want to be included in the club (Cole 2014).

2. They Use Anthropomorphism 

Humans are empathetic creatures that naturally want to care for others. One trick that advertisers like to use is anthropomorphism ; making a non-human object more human. Using animals as logos, or even developing the product as a character itself helps create an empathetic connection between the brand and the viewer. Animated characters help make the product feel more familiar to you. They also help make the brand more memorable which increases the likelihood of you wanting to buy the product (Costa 2017). 

3. They Use Sex Appeal

Advertisers want you to feel that they can improve your life. They determined that sexuality is one of the biggest motivators to selling a product and will find ways to incorporate it in their advertising. Beauty products, personal care, and supplements are huge users of this technique. Showing attractive models/actors after using a particular product greatly influences the need to have it (Costa 2017). After all, who doesn’t want to be seen as attractive? 

4. They Create Catchy Jingles

Have you ever heard a song in an advertisement and it gets stuck in your head all day? That is no accident as the advertiser wants you to remember their name. Sometimes, they can even get you to remember the phone number or location of a particular business. Music, especially meticulously crafted jingles, are much easier to remember than a voice over. Companies will invest large amounts of money into perfecting the perfect song (Hatch 2018).

5. They Strategize Color

We usually learn in school that different colors have different emotions to them, like red for anger. Did you know that this applies to marketing as well? The colors used in advertisements are no accident as certain hues invoke a specific reaction in the people viewing them. Colors like red indicate a call for action whereas other colors, like black, make a product look more sleek and expensive. Colors can also subtly bring up perks about a certain product, like green implying that something is healthy, regardless of the reality! Color goes beyond the specific hue and extends into the intensity, and vibrancy of it. Choosing between bright and soft colors depends on how you want your viewers to react meaning that designers carefully consider their options (Hatch 2018). 

6.  They Want You To Fear Missing Out

As life happens, we can think of many times that we regretted missing out on an opportunity. Advertisers know this and want you to feel that way about their product. Having special deals and limited time offers increases the urgency to buy a specific product; they want you to feel that you’re making a big mistake for not including yourself. Getting 50% off of a pair of slippers is exciting, even if you don’t necessarily need a new pair, especially more so if the offer expires in 48 hours (Hatch 2018). 

7. They Doctor Visuals

You probably wonder why food always looks better in commercials than in real life. This is no coincidence as what’s shown in advertisements is a heavily modified version of the specific food – in fact, it may not even be food at all! Motor oil is commonly used in place of syrup due to its water repelling nature. Additionally, milk is usually substituted with glue as it is easier to manage on camera. Otherwise, most food is actually plastic models designed carefully to look as delicious as possible. Other techniques include photo-shopping products and models to show the product in its best light. Warping the image and tweaking the coloration ever so slightly goes a long ways in making an item look more presentable, even though it bends the reality of the situation (Costa 2017).

With a world covered in ads, it’s difficult to create something that clicks. Next time you see an ad, try to spot these tricks. What kind of tactics have you noticed in the past? What are some other tricks they use? Let us know in the comments!


  • Cole, S. (2014, July 7). 5 Psychological Tactics Marketers Use To Influence Consumer Behavior. Fast Company. www.fastcompany.com/3032675/5-psychological-tactics-marketers-use-to-influence-consumer-behavior
  • Costa, C. (2017, May 23). 7 Tricks Advertisers Use to Manipulate You Into Spending More Money. Showbiz Cheat Sheet. www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/7-advertising-tricks-you-should-stop-falling-for.html/
  • Hatch, C. (2018, September 27). 14 Psychological Marketing Tips for Customer Mind Control. Disruptive Advertising. www.disruptiveadvertising.com/marketing/marketing-tips/

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