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super powers

February 3, 2016


“I am a discerning customer who considers most advertising to be misleading.

I am not a brand enthusiast, and only tolerate marketing when I deem it necessary to research products and services I am reviewing for purchase. I have no emotional connection with any specific manufacturers or branded providers. I resent being referred to as a consumer, and I resist all efforts to corral me into any form of herd conditioning. I am a skeptic.”

Somewhere, hidden deep inside each of us is this person, independent, intelligent, self-sufficient, self-confident, self-directed, self-absorbed, and untouchable. I want these core traits to be my shield against all who would attempt to manipulate me. I don’t really consciously desire to become that person, but when I see them display these super powers on screen or on the pages of my favorite novels, I somehow feel empowered, if only for the moment.

But are they really super powers? Well, no, they’re not. They are more learned defense mechanisms that we instinctively develop along our winding path. But, defense from what? We are put together in such a way that our decisions must be the result of the interaction of our mind, emotions, conscience, and will. That is, I must deliberate on the pertinent information presented, consider how I feel about it, have a sense of whether I’m comfortable with it, and then finally make a decision regarding it.

Any attempt to short-circuit this natural process is sensed as manipulation and a personal violation. My initial reaction is to reject such efforts. Although I am open to be led through my decision-making process, I am personally offended by attempts to manipulate me. Truth be told, however, I cannot begin to count the times I have succumbed to these manipulative tactics.

Therein lies the primary cause of our over-developed defense tactics. We either become highly suspect of any suggestion of being led along, or desensitized to even hearing the piper’s flute. Regardless, we lose a lot in the process. How so? In our reaction to these slips of judgment we are allowing our power of discernment to become hardened into disgruntled disbelief, and our preferences to become closed to only those tastes and experiences that we have already tried and proven. Our wills end up being routed, not by external manipulation, but by fear of its possibility.

Advertising and marketing, at their best is the presentation of a universe of options to be discovered, tried, and proven. Inherent in that presentation is a path that is designed to guide you into exercising your judgment as well as spark your imagination. The advertiser’s goal is to sell you on their offering, not trick you into falling for it.

You are confronted with these presentations a thousand times a day. Why not put to task some of your real super powers by paying closer attention to a few of the more popular advertising campaigns. Exercise your power of discernment to see if you can unpack how they are put together. How is basic information about their offering woven into the overall narrative? How and at what point is your emotional bias drawn in?

Can you discern a logical path that is leading you to make a decision regarding how you feel about the offering? Once you recognize it, do you feel that it was manipulative, or was it through engagement with your natural process of decision-making?

Effective advertising is designed to work with you by providing what you need to feel good about the decisions you make. The more you exercise critical discernment, the more you will be prepared to interact both with the message and the offer. You will also be far less likely to become disgruntled and closed to any hint of inspiration that may be found in the message. Pay attention, or as they say, “Pay the Piper.”

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