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Psychological Theories of Advertising

Info: 2110 words (8 pages) Essay
Published: 21st Mar 2019 in Psychology

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Advertising gives us a message in many forms whether it be attracting, informing, reminding, suggesting or impelling us numerous times throughout the day. Advertising is the process of making things known to us. Psychology is the word of the mind and to be successful to get people to buy things you must combine both psychology and advertising.

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Gill, L. E. (2013), said that the designer of advertisements must first catch the eye of the consumer, then they must arouse them and make them want the product being advertised, and then this should result in the acceptance of the message and the consumer will consume. Advertising can be taught. The teacher strives to impact the minds of others. Like stated above: you must get the interest and attention, then by suggesting ways by which significant facts and figures may be impressed on the memory and later be recalled. Repetition also pays an important role in assisting the public unconsciously to incorporate various points about the product which includes remembering the name of the product.

Problems arise when it comes to picking the right kind of media for a publicity effort. The reason being is because it is essentially a psychological issue. Since media selection contains an assessment of the type of people who may be exposed or expected to read many publications chosen for deliberation. Out of all the media available, the press is one of the most reliable ways of persuasion. However, when choosing the press there are several other factors one must think about such as, size of the prospective market, will it be nationwide scale or regional, who is the target audience, or will it appeal to all or only select people?

If there is a want to introduce a new product the research specialist may decide to ask some potential customers to give their opinion about the product. If the product is an old product that has been out on the market the researcher may ask potential customers to compare this product with another product like it. The aim is to increase the demand for one’s own product by using the mind of the potential consumers (Gill, 2013).


Strong, E. k. (1925), said that appeals are found through an analysis of what is selling. It’s also important to understand the reasons a customer bought that certain product. The easiest way or method to get this analysis is through personal contact. The customer must know what exactly the seller is trying to sell. On needs to show what their brand is all about. One also needs to know what the competitors are trying to sell. The most valuable information is obtained from the consumer. The consumer will let the seller know what they are exactly looking for and what is most important to them within a product. Advertisements are meant to be appealing that is why they tend to be bright and colorful, family/friendly, comedic, etc. companies tend to spend large amounts of money to get their message across and make it appealing to the consumers. (Strong, 1925)


Strong, E. k. (1925), Says that the reason for selling is to make a customer. Many sellers are only striving to make sales rather than making customers. It is a psychological problem when trying to convert potential customers into regular customers. You get the result of a regular customer when the minds of potential customers have changed. You want them to come in to think and feel in a new and different way. The seller must know what changes need to be made to make a regular customer. The seller must adapt to changes that are happening and only then will the seller be successful in making potential customers regular customers. (Strong, 1925)


Strong, E. k. (1925), says there is a mental process when it comes to purchasing. In the simplest form these processes are: want, solution, and purchase. An example is: Mrs. Sprague wants to do her laundry. To do her laundry she must have soap, and she is out. She goes to the store to buy more. She buys Tide because she finds Tide to be satisfactory to her needs. If it had not been satisfactory she would have gotten something else. The outcome of the purchase is the determining factor if there will be future purchases of the same product. Today almost all selling organizations are interested in repeat orders it is then essential to add a fourth element to the process which then makes it: want, solution, purchase, satisfaction (Strong, 1925).

Motivational Research

Samuel, L. R. (2011) says Motivational research is marketing research that tries to explain why the consumers behave the way that they do. It is there to notice and comprehend what consumers do not fully understand about themselves. It gets into the mind of the consumers to help with marketing strategies. When motivational research came out people started embracing Freudian psychology to get inside of the consumer’s mind. By the time the post war era was over, motivational research did not just alter the path of American business, it completely changed and incorporated psychology directly into the heart of the nation. Motivational researchers looked to Freud to get deep into the minds of consumers. Freuds concept of the unconscious, with its desire to shape people’s behavior, was the powerful idea behind the marketing (Samuel, 2011).

Other psychologists behind the market research were John B. Watson and Paul T. Cherrington. These two fellows were known as the fathers of market research. Cherrington investigated consumer attitudes and purchasing habits in a wide variety of product categories. Cherrington’s staff often went door to door asking the Mrs. About her preference in brands, design, and price of the items she would often buy. Cherrington was way ahead of his time. He was a firm believer that it was the consumer who ruled the market place, not the manufacturer. Which reminds me of the saying “the customer is always right”.

General Motors (GM) started consumer research in the 1930’s. GM would mail out questionnaires to more than a million of its car owners. In return GM received information related to issues regarding the style, price, and engineering of their products. The customers even loved that GM took the effort to ask their opinions. They didn’t think of it as a research questionnaire because GM made it more friendly. More companies started sending out questionnaires to get the feedback they needed to be able to sell to the people. Motivational research was needed for the well-being of the nation. America needed it to survive (Samuel, 2011).

Subliminal Advertising

Edwards, J. (2011, October 20), tells us that Subliminal advertising is placing hidden pictures in commercials or on packages. The plan is to have the viewer process these pictures unconsciously. Examples are the Camel logo, SFX magazine, Gilbey’s Gin, Coke’s naked ice lady, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The logo for pirates of the Caribbean is in the shape of the Mickey Mouse head. The ice cubes in Gilbey’s Gin spells the word sex. On top of the Coca-Cola can people seem to think there is a naked lady made of ice. SFX magazine altered their logo when they placed Jennifer Garner on the cover. The logo looked like it spelled sex. The Camel logo has a naked man with his cigarette. These are subliminal advertising examples that we never notice until someone points them out and maybe at times we do process these unconsciously (Edwards, 2011).

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Memory and advertising

Gill, L. E. (2013), tells us that Our memories eventually fade over time. (Gill, 2013) says that Researchers have found that our memories are at their best two seconds after their experience has taken place. After two seconds the memory fades very fast. So, in about 20 minutes we have forgotten more of an experience than we shall forget in the next thirty days. What we end up remembering in a day is only a small portion of what we experience. What we get people to remember during the day is crucial especially when trying to advertise a product to the public.

Bright colors seem to impress us more than the dull colors. The bright colored inserts and advertisements that run-in colors are remembered better than others, because they make a greater impression on us.

The back-cover page is important to a person reading a magazine or whatever it may be because when the magazine is laying on the table the back cover-page is likely to be turned up, however, it is also an important page because it is likely to be the first or last page seen. The second cover page is also valuable because it is likely to be seen first. The intensity of the impression which an advertisement makes is dependent upon the response of the reader. Even though what was written may not be anything more than what would be on a post card. The action is vital in helping the memory of the reader. (Gill, 2013)

Feelings and Emotions

Scott, W. D. (1916), says that looking at advertisements you may feel a pleasurable feeling and want to buy what that advertisement is showing. There are times however that you may get a displeased feeling from an advertisement and that could make you not want to buy the product being advertised. There are also times where you may be in a good mood and everything is favorable to you. There are also times where you may be in a bad mood and nothing looks good to buy and you have a displeased experience. When angry or in pain or displeased, it is not easy to be persuaded or influenced by anything like when we are having a happy day and a pain free day.

For a certain product to be pleasing to the consumer’s eye people tend to like advertisements with bright colors that also have pleasing characteristics that are appealing and will awaken their feeling of appreciation in the normal person. Consumers may get a pleasing feeling if they relate the product to a good memory with it. An example of this is eating an Oreo with your grandma and then you see the advertisement of a girl eating an Oreo with her mom or grandma and so its pleasing to you and you want Oreos

Sometimes the advertisement can show sympathy and make the consumer feel a certain way also. Advertisements try to hit all spectrums of emotions to make the consumer relate. An example of this would be the sad animal commercial that shows the animals without a family and who have been mistreated. This commercial tends to make multiple people sympathize for those animals. It’s a great way to get money donated. Other commercials such as weight loss, or the stop smoking cigarette advertisements, try to get you to feel the way they show it in the commercial or advertisement. It will show someone being very depressed about their weight and then happy after they lose 50 pounds. The commercials and advertisements that try to get “smoking is bad” across to us is trying to show some of the terrible after math of people who did smoke. (Scott, 1916)

Psychology and advertising go hand in hand. To make an advertisement appealing or to make a sale and keep regular customers one needs to know what the consumers think and want in a product. People are unconsciously thinking when they repeatedly buy an item. People are unconsciously thinking when they buy an item because of the advertisement is appealing to them. People don’t realize when they do this they are giving these companies feedback on how they think and pretty much tell the sellers what these people want and need. Whether the advertisement is for select people only or for all. Responding to surveys sent out from the stores one shops at is helping them become better sellers.


Edwards, J. (2011, october 20). The 10 best subliminal ads ever made. Retrieved from cbs news: cbsnews.com/news/the-10-best-subliminal-ads-ever-made

Gill, L. E. (2013). Advertising and Psychology . Routledge.

Samuel, L. R. (2011). Freud on Madison Avenue: Motivation Research and Subliminal Advertising in America. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Scott, W. D. (1916). The Psychology of Advertising: A simple Exposition of the Principles of Psychology in their Relation to Successful Advertising. Small, maynard and company.

Strong, E. k. (1925). The Psychology of Selling and Advertising. Mcgraw-Hill book Company, incorporated.


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