The Subconscious Manipulation in Marketing
This particular thought first came into my mind when I noticed a large container at the local Carl’s JR. Proudly labeled “Unsweetened Tea”, I thought to myself “This sounds stupid.” It didn’t occur to me why until I thought about it for a while. It was manipulative, the message is that tea without sugar is “altered”, that tea is naturally engorged with grams of sugar per serving. This is simply not true, Tea has been happily unsweetened for thousands of years.
Yeah! This makes no damn sense! 😀 Buy me!
What the shit is this? We don’t define other food products by their altered name. You wouldn’t call Water “Uncarbonated Club Soda.” Or you could, but then you’d lose all your friends. Think about the suggested name for a moment, this literally means that they had Sweetened Iced Tea, and then removed the Sugar. This is completely untrue and reads stupid.
Plus it would save them money on printing to just have it say “Iced Tea”. I don’t need to be reminded my water has no sugar in it, no reason to tell me my tea does either.
But where else can this be found? My next two examples are for the partiers out there who happen to end up on this random, rather boring, web blog. The first is Alcohol, this is most peculiar. What do you tell someone when you don’t imbibe alcohol? “I don’t Drink.”
Really? Alcohol took the title of the most important activity to keeping you alive? It beat out water? You’d think that Water would hold the title for most common thought when someone says “Drink”. This really screwed with my childhood. I didn’t think there was any sensible interpretation of “Drinking” other than the obvious, consuming liquids to prolong my life.
So when I saw a sign similar to this:
I presumed there was some grave danger with drinking and driving. Perhaps water made you sleepy, maybe soda was too delicious to be consumed at speed, or perhaps juice was some kind of mega cocktail that left the drinker in a state of sugar induced mania. I don’t know exactly what my thoughts were, but I knew that once I saw my mother drinking a soda in the car I got paranoid.
Then when a police officer pulled up beside us I panicked. I figured my mom was going to jail, time to saddle up and enjoy the life of a single parent household. The cop didn’t seem to care that she was downing a soda, remarkable, I didn’t know what to make of it.
It wouldn’t be until later that MADD and all that other nonsense flooded our Elementary and I realized they meant specifically Alcohol. Our culture, or perhaps one far older, had normalized drinking to mean specifically Alcohol.
That, to me, is strange. It makes it sound like anything else you drink is alternative, something unusual, and that the normal thing to do is drink Alcohol instead. These sort of quirks have an interesting subconscious impact, people tend to accept them better and there is less tendency to treat their use as problematic when statistically it more often than not is (compared to other drugs).
Which takes me to our final topic of discussion, another drug that managed to steal the show.
When you Google smoking everything is about Tobacco.
When you ask someone if they smoke, and they say yes, the natural inclination is to assume that they mean Tobacco. Cigarettes or Cigars, but what of the alternatives? Some people smoke Marijuana, others apparently Smoke Crack. I’m sure, judging by how people drive in California, that the latter is a popular pre-drive snack.
Of these 3 examples which is the most widely accepted? Obviously Tobacco, its the easiest to procure and serves as the signature flag of hypocrisy over the US Political system. All other smokes are wrong, but this silky smooth flavor is the best.
And manipulation isn’t exactly unheard of in Tobacco, from marketing to children to manipulating the women’s right movement to get women smoking. The idea that they’ve commandeered an otherwise fairly ambiguous action is not all that astounding.
There are many other examples in our national or even international rhetoric, these are subtle hints at an underlying bias that exists. You (and I) are manipulated constantly by these subtle words, by these word of mouth marketing tools. They create a sense that the surreal is the norm, and that the actual norm is the surreal.