- Illustration by Megan Mulholland
By Lucy Perkins, Daily Arts Writer
Published November 20, 2012
The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. Not because of Black Friday, but because of the commercials. My cousins and brother and I eat leftovers all day, lounge on the orange shag carpet in my Grandma’s basement and watch the first Christmas movie of the season.
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If we’re lucky, it’s “Home Alone.” If ABC decides to show a different family holiday flick, we have back up and pull out our own collector’s edition of the Macaulay Culkin classic.
But it’s way better to watch on TV. Because the commercials on Black Friday are just as good as the movie. It’s the first day of the season, and advertisers are in fine form. They can finally use all of the great Santa-and-his-elves material they’ve been working on all year.
There’s that one animated commercial where a poor little elf is sitting in his cabin on top of a snowy mountain. He has a terrible cold and can’t help Santa build toys. His nose is so raw it looks like Rudolph’s. Remember that one? The voiceover rhymes in couplets about how sad the elf is to stay in bed — until someone brings him Puffs Plus with Lotion! The elf uses one of the tissues, the redness goes away and he is instantly happier.
I won't be offended if you don't remember it.
Advertisers love me. Slogans and jingles by celebrities meant to sell me something usually succeed. They convince me that there’s a 100-percent chance my life will get better if I buy whatever they’re trying to sell.
Once there was this ad for toothpaste that was so cool and minty fresh that your mouth would feel as icy and clean as the snow of an avalanche rushing down the side of a mountain. It had these little breath strips in it that exploded to reveal a girl with radiant white teeth skiing down the mountain, narrowly escaping the wall of snow crashing down behind her.
I buy that toothpaste.
I also buy shampoo that claims it will make my hair smoother and shinier. You know those commercials where they zoom in on animated hair follicles and show how each and every rough strand of hair is silky after using whatever kind of hair conditioner they’re selling? I think I’m doing that to my hair almost every time I shower. Sometimes I disgust myself.
As you can imagine, terror strikes at Starbucks. Those seasonal beverages get me every time. Pumpkin spice lattes dictate when fall begins, and the arrival of peppermint mochas mark the beginning of my holiday festivities.
I’m painfully aware of how susceptible I am to corporate persuasion. One of my majors is communications.
Once, my professor showed us two different commercials for bleach. One of the commercials featured a black family, and the other a white family. Then she asked us which one made us want to buy the bleach. I raised my hand and said the one with the black family. The professor then informed us that the majority of those who watched that version of the ad shared my opinion. According to the studies we later looked at, white clothing looks cleaner and brighter on darker skin, so the company chose to use the ad featuring the African American family.
Time after time, class after class, I continued to find myself falling in line with the what “the majority of Americans are influenced by.”
Even though I’m learning about all the different ways advertisers try to appeal consumers, I still fall for it. I know drinking Diet Coke won’t make everything in my hectic life fall into place, but I still buy one when I’m stressed out. If I have a cold and my nose is red, I rush to CVS and buy a box of Puffs Plus with Lotion and immediately believe the redness will dissipate. I know what these marketing schemes are trying to do, and I let them have their way with me completely.
I may be an exaggerated case study, but everybody is influenced by advertising somehow. It just depends on how much you give in to them. It takes a strong person to pass by a Starbucks while warm cinnamon swirls and pumpkin leaves adorn the windows.
All I’m saying is that you should give in sometimes. Buy a Diet Coke and watch as your life gets better.
Lucy Perkins is an LSA senior and an arts writer for The Michigan Daily.