One of my jobs in University was at the Television Bureau of Canada. It was a summer job, watching and categorizing commercials, developing their database. I seemed to land the job because my response in the job interview was “Who WOULDN’T want to watch commercials all summer?!”
Well, I’m sure there are lots of people who wouldn’t, but I did and it seemed to have foreshadowed my career to some degree.
Commercials entertain me. I have a sincere interest in Advertising and Marketing from more of a psychological perspective than creative. I’m fascinated by the elements of a GREAT spot, from the script to the visuals and the choice of talent. That a commercial can make us FEEL something within thirty seconds is fascinating to me. What emotions are evoked? What does the advertising make us BELIEVE?!
All this to set up my disbelief/shock/amazement at a commercial/promotion/advertisement I recently saw on YouTube. I looked up how to create a “fishtail braid” for my daughter and we came across, what I thought was, a great how-to video from a girl that seemed to be extolling her fashion and beauty knowledge.
As we watched the five-minute video, I realized we’d sort of been duped. I didn’t think this was a casual video created by some (talented) young girl. It seemed to be an infomercial for Suave hair products.
The actress, Meghan Rienks, is very convincing. She speaks in a casual way and teaches the viewer how to perfect this braid. When it came time to add product to her hair, she slickly added her love of the Suave Professionals Products to their viewing/target audience! With further research, I found out that she is actually an actress and new media sensation who has created countless videos and says she doesn’t work for the companies or products she shares. A brilliant move on her part, she has created a HUGE following, provides a platform for her acting career, and has her “advertising” products while actually advertising herself.
I felt a little manipulated. And yet, I appreciate what she has created.
This all adds up to media literacy – or – understanding what we are being told by media. I believe in questioning everything. While advertisers are within their right to woo us into buying their products and believing whatever they’ll have us believe, it’s our personal responsibility to understand the truth.
(My daughter was only 3 or 4 when she demanded I buy “whitening” toothpaste because, “Mom, if I’m not whitening, I’m yellowing!”)
Technology has provided plentiful opportunity to create mirages, things that appear a certain way, but may not be reality. Automated posts and responses on social media are another example. While that gal had me going for a while that she actually wanted to share her abilities on how to make a fishtail braid, others have us going that they are posting interesting content on social media all day, all the time. The truth is, we are able to schedule our blogs and our social media posts to appear, not when we’ve created them, but when you are most likely to read.
Things are not as they seem. We are constantly provided all kinds of propaganda that advertisers want us to believe. And perhaps we can take a note from this actress come marketer all in the name of clever promotion.
But, buyer (and advertiser) beware, the truth…is out there.