Advertising - what tricks are the ads using to sell products services?

Edit: New readers to the topic can join as of March 2023 by clicking here.

I chanced upon a repeat episode of an old TV series that I liked on a commercial channel. Normally I don’t watch commercial channels, or if on the rare occassions I do, I do something while the ads are on.

This time I was washing up, so was stuck with the ads. I became intrigued not so much with what they were selling, but how. I noticed the prevalence of guilt being used. If you want what is best for your child… or do this so you don’t leave your kids with the debt of your funeral expenses… etc.

I thought it might be interesting for people to post ads and identify the strings they are trying to pull to get you to buy their product. I’d like to make this an educational thread rather than a critical one. Forum users, as wise as they are, should be able to pick the tricks and help educate others.

Anyone up for the challenge?


I feel bilious at the mere thought of watching free to air television … my antenna socket is empty, so I can’t help … sorry :wink:


Guilt is certainly one of the strings that is pulled. Mummy guilt, where young women are set up to feel they are not doing all they can for their children unless they buy product X seems common.

Another string is aimed at jerking young men on the masculinity string, a caricature of young men really. It is where they are invited to be “a real man” by indulging in some commercially exploitable behaviour. Once it was the Marlboro Man, who hasn’t been seen lately but used to flex his muscles and his granite jaw while riding his mighty steed and smoking a cancer stick.

Today it will be the bloke who spends his time at the Saturday arvo BBQ with his head in his phone using a betting app so he can be seen to “Back yourself”. Real men it seems are strong and decisive and are not afraid to put their money where their mouth is even if that means betting on events where the odds are most unfavourable. Nobody said real men are smart.

Then there is fun. I haven’t seen one lately but a well known cola drink used to put a huge amount of money into adds for fun. Pretty girls and handsome youths all had an absolute ball, usually in or around water, with the sun shining and their smiles never failing, with the use of huge fun props, simply by drinking brown sweet drink. The odd thing is that your smile may not be so great and your belly so flat if you do drink lots of the stuff.

There is so much of this stuff that’ll do for now.


I often see this behaviour as putting your money where your mates are putting their money. The pull of the tribe and desire to fit in and be accepted.

For gambling adds many pull towards a socially important experience, and when you are alone, “back yourself” too. Another message - gambling builds self confidence and success?

It is notable that these adds typically feature male roles. Risk taking + desire for acceptance + self assurance + loss of control = gambling addiction?

We eventually banned tobacco advertising that typically used similar marketing tactics (One style noted by @syncretic) due to the harm it caused. Looks like we have fallen for the same trap by allowing similar emotionally targeted advertising for gambling.

Apologies fir the slight diversion.


“What strings are the ads trying to pull?”

Too easy. Your purse strings of course.


Quite so. This is part of the caricature of the group that is being portrayed, fortunately not all that tribe is actually like that or thinks that they ought to be.

Using group pressure to amplify many of these strings is so on trend.


Yes, there are heaps of examples.

  1. My pet favourite is toddler powdered milk. The advertising seems to indicate that a toddler needs the ‘expensive’ toddler milk to supplement any nutritional deficiencies which may occurs through their diet. Why give them fortified milk powder, where it is likely that the additional nutrients added to the powder will pass straight through the toddler. I also think…'I never had toddler milk with growing up, didn’t have any nutritional deficiencies and had a active, happy and healthy childhood. What has changed, making parents feel guilty that they are not giving their children everything they need.
  2. The current rush my manufacturers to make chewable milk powder based tablets for children. Like toddler milk, the advertising is very much about giving children what their parents don’t provide in their diet (guilt trip - what if I am one of those parents that don’t…)

Here is one example of the tablets…

The labelling also is misleading as it says ‘made using 100% real milk’. I never knew that agricultural scientists have bred cows where their milk is blueberry flavoured (containing Blueberry Fruit Extract Powder) and also contains Calcium hydrogen Phosphate, Glucose, and Cellulose Microcrystalline, Flavour (Milk).

What it wrong with giving your child (toddler plus) unadulterated, 100% Australian farm fresh milk? Those who do must now feel guilty.


Remember this series from the Checkout? Brilliant and appropriate to the topic.


An article regarding Costco using psychology to get customers to overspend by having them believe they are simply saving more money.

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There is lots of marketing psychology, but if one is wary and follows the prices it is not hard to win the game, at least far more often than not. The ‘Disneyland’ is an appropriate analogy when you walk through, bombarded by free samples of foods and often product demos.

Today a Beats Studio3 headset is $349 at Costco and $449 at JB. Costco just rolled out online shopping yesterday, although not without teething pains. Hearing footsteps yet?

As I have posted many times, if they have what you want, and you know the street prices and buy accordingly you can get significant bargains, or pay more than you would if you bought at your corner store, item specific.


A completely different way of enticing you to buy?

A cute cow symbol, a play on words to make you think about milk and yum, honey how sweat it is, and to top it all off: “Sunshine Coast Hinterland Family Farmers”

The call to support the locals, although no mention of what they farm. Guess it must be cows.

About as honest and direct a product package you could get. It worked once. Taste test, no tang and flat on the palette. IE kid proof like the taste tests for the classic cheese burger, pickle removed.

The side label is interesting, small print being the first observation. The wonders of a decent phone camera.

Displays around twice actual size.
Plenty of space for a larger “Made in Australia” symbol, wow 85% Aussie yogurt.
Some of the ingredients are also interesting.
Where is the calcium and why do you need gelatine?

Perhaps it is really not yogurt but a new product “honey yogurt” I really can’t believe it’s not yogurt?
No it really must be yogurt, it’s got culture in it.

There is calcium in milk products. Gelatine is used as a thickening agent.

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If we don’t make it to the mute button quickly enough when ads come on, my wife and I usually chime in with a different first word, starting a few letters further long. Those sorts of ads appear to us to be featuring losers who think they are smart. Certainly no strings pulled by them here!

If the topic is not restricted to TV, then I see regular ads in emails promoting “the latest gear”, or “most popular this week” from several online cycling stores I use. I guess they think people have a need of keeping up with the Jones’, or FOMO. I delete them without opening, I know what bits I need, and they aren’t featured in those emails :wink:


… perhaps its Djoghurt ?

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I notice they add sugar and honey (further down the list, so not as much of it) for sweetening. I imagine it tastes like most of the commercial yoghurts, very sweet, as it is >16% sugar.

Perhaps one of the family farmers has a side import/export business, for the 15% OS ingredients :wink:

The labelling of products as “gluten free” is getting ridiculous, appearing on all sorts of foods that do not have gluten in them. Is that a string that is pulled for those jumping on the GF bandwagon? I would think those who genuinely need to avoid it would have researched what foods to avoid.


Sold! :rofl:

Or from Kenilworth Dairies themselves.

At Kenilworth Dairies our original Natural Yoghurt is a perfect balance of tart and sweet. For those who love flavour, there’s our range of wonderful creamy honeyed yoghurt and our delicious combinations of real fruit flavours. We have a style, texture and flavour for everyone.

Kenilworth Dairies Webpages

Obviously. :wink:

P.S. if anyone is wondering about the effectiveness of the pull of their product presentation, it was the only almost plain yogurt on the shelf at our Local IGA on the day. The relatively new Kenilworth Dairies product lines and business have six generations of local farming behind them. I read their webpage. One more pull on the heart strings. Some of us can only reach back four in Australia, but who’s counting. It must be good?


Pretty much all Advertising is just indoctrination. The most successful one at the moment is “You will Save” No one spends money, Your bank Account never goes down because your always SAVING sometimes right across the store. You just saved $200…no you just spent $600 not knowing if you can get it cheaper. Of course everyone knows your not really saving because their SAVINGS account never goes up after buying something its just a propaganda tool to think great I think I now have more money to buy even more goods I don’t need.


As I don’t have a Smart TV or Netflix or any other bought streaming service I watch Free to Air. However when any program I want to watch is on the commercial stations I record them on my DVD device and am able to fast forward the ads.
I am NOT into guilt or recommendation advertising as I used to work for a well known Newspaper in the advertising section and I know full well its ONLY about revenue, revenue revenue regardless of the content and its authenticity, value for money or ethical purpose.


Latest angle I have noticed (apart from the many others already mentioned), seems to be show kids misbehaving or being particularly mischievous, and then being rewarded with their favourite fast food - for example as witnessed of late with both KFC & McDonalds advertising.


You forgot the incessant pressure on women targeting skin, weight, looks, hair and all these other things that make women feel inadequate if only they bought that particular product