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Sample Essay on Advertising Techniques

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Advertising is a very common means of getting customers to see your brand, message and product. However, we all know that advertising is intentionally deceptive in the sense that it tries to prey on your weaknesses as a human being. Read the following sample essay on advertising techniques and find out why. If you need some additional help, check out our essay help section to find out more about how to structure and write essays.

Advertising: Modern Day Propaganda

In our day to day lives, we are constantly barraged by marketing and advertising in many forms. These advertisements employ a variety of schemes in order to capture our attention and hopefully spend our money on the product or service. According to Ann McClintock in Propaganda Techniques in Today’s Advertising, we are victimized and seduced on a daily basis to buy products without much actual logical thinking involved. McCormick listed name calling, glittering generalities, transfer, testimonial, plain folks and bandwagon as the six major ways in which we are deceived on a daily basis. In browsing through a September, 2010 issue of Forbes Magazine, there are three specific instances where the tactics of testimonial, transfer and plain folks are used.

Forbes Ad for Credit Suisse

The first ad I found was by a financial services company named Credit Suisse that boasted the support of Roger Federer, the famous tennis player, in a classic testimonial tactic. In a whole page ad, the picture of Federer proudly crossing his burly arms and looking into the distance is elegantly portrayed on half the page. Although Federer’s picture is in black and white, a red line across the bottom contains some words in support of Federer. The largest font text reads, “48,000 employees, 96,600 fingers crossed, one Credit Suisse with Roger Federer all the way.” The bottom also reads some extremely flattering words about both Credit Suisse and Federer; “Determination, dedication and a will to succeed. The Attributes on which Credit Suisse are built have served Roger Federer equally over his remarkable career…” Clearly, there is a very strong association between this company and Federer, as they portray him as almost a fellow team member.

This ad successfully employs the testimonial tactic. As McClintock argued, “the testimonial capitalizes on the admiration people have for a celebrity to make the product shine more brightly” (McClintock). As we all know, Federer is a very good tennis player who has gained notoriety for his accomplishments. However, Federer is clearly not employed by Credit Suisse for the purpose of offering financial services. Moreover, anything relating to financial services is not even found on the advertisement. Without ever hearing of the brand beforehand, one would be confused as to what they did or sold in the first place. Thus, this ad completely rests on the popularity of Federer and the proclaimed relationship that he has with the company. Furthermore, the tactic of glittering generalities is also used because in analogy to Federer’s accomplishments, Credit Suisse claims that they have the same determination, dedication and will to succeed. These terms are all relatively vague and tell you little about why you should use the company in comparison to its competitors. All you know from the ad is that Federer endorses it and that he has similar successful traits as the company does. Click here to read an analysis of Budweiser's Superbowl ad in 2014.

Albert Einstein Ad

Another ad that successfully utilizes the transfer tactic is an ad for meaning based technologies via Autonomy that portrays Albert Einstein on over half the page. Most of the photo is covered with the face of the famous physicist who accomplished marvelous discoveries in his time. In the bold text below reads, “genius is just a word until someone gives it meaning.” The ad then carefully describes the value of meaning: “Meaning brings words to life. They become a shared idea, a request or an instruction. They become intellectual property and inside information. And companies rise and fall as a result.” The advertisement also vaguely describes what the company actually does, “Autonomy, the leader in meaning based technologies.” It is worthy to note that the company uses the themes of intelligence, genius and the value of making wise decisions with the information we have. This is precisely why the picture of Einstein was included as part of their modern marketing strategy.

By using Einstein’s picture, Autonomy engages the reader to associate his accomplishments with their product. In associating their meaning based technology with Einstein, it cannot even be interpreted as an endorsement. Since Einstein is dead and cannot possibly have any involvement with the product at this time, the real value of using him has to come from the admiration that people have for him. Indeed, since Einstein is a household name that people associate with genius, mathematician and intelligence, the company is trying to have the same image as well. Moreover, as McClintock remarked, “the advertisers hope that they prestige attached to the symbol will carry over to the product” (McClintock). The primary hope is that readers will associate the accomplishments of Einstein with the company in a similar fashion. 

The Blue Collar Worker

The final ad the used the plain folks tactic was a Siemens ad that depicted gentleman in a manufacturing facility working. Portrayed in three quarters of the ad is an older gentleman with a grizzly gray beard and protective glasses working on something. While we cannot see what he is specifically doing, we can tell by his clothes and posture that he is a blue collar worker. In a caption below reads, “What can a century-old factory teach us about the future?” Below that is a bold statement that summarizes what Siemens does for factories, “Siemens technologies breathe new life into old factories- and help ensure America’s best manufacturing days are still ahead.” Finally, the advertisement also claims that while Siemens has done a lot for American industry, it is ready to do more. Noteworthy is the theme of American manufacturing, which is being overtaken by outsourcing in China. Another theme is the portrayal of a blue collar worker.

In portraying a blue collar worker on the front, this advertisement appeals to plain folks. The individual is diligently working on a project with his bare hands. This appeals to plain folks because it glorifies the value of American manufacturing. In an age where labor jobs are leaving the country very quickly, this ad effectively empathizes and supports the need for efficient American manufacturing jobs. By portraying a blue collar worker and reciting quotes about how they have helped this industry, Siemens also sends the message that they are not only an integral aspect of its success, but that they are also there to support the industry during tough economic times. Siemens is emphasizing that they have the same values as the average labor worker. They want to epitomize themselves as the solution to ensure that “America’s best manufacturing days are still ahead.” This encourages the reader to perceive Siemens as ‘the good guy’ who supports America (despite not including a woman in the ad and clearly using gender stereotypes). While the advertisement doesn’t clearly outline how or why Siemens helps bring life to these factories, it merely claims that it does on the basis of association to plain folks with similar values and goals.


As we have seen, marketing tactics such as transfer, testimonial and plain folks are commonly used in modern advertisements. In associating Credit Suisse with tennis player Federer, the ad made it seem as though that Federer was a fellow team member and a definite supporter of the financial services company. Because nothing was listed about the actual company and its services, we have to presume that the advertisements effectiveness stems solely from the association with Roger Federer. Another example of the transfer tactic was the Autonomy meaning based technology ad depicting Einstein. This one page ad utilized Einstein’s credibility and value as a genius physicist to carry over onto their own product. Finally, the Siemens plain folks ad was tailored to project the notion that the company supports blue collared American industries that are being challenged by a tough economy. Siemens’ ad also utilizes the association to the average Joe by glorifying the role of American industry workers, thus epitomizing similar values. 

Works Cited

McClintock, Anne. “Propaganda Techniques in Today’s Advertising.” Oct 28, 2009. Print. 

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