Editor’s note: This text was written by Thorin.
There is a reason why salespeople
are called salespeople
and not checkout clerks.
It’s all about the money. It doesn’t matter if it’s the shifty-eyed drug dealer in a dark alley, or a cartoon mascot greeting you at the gates of an amusement park. You’re the con or the mark, you’re the solicitor or the John.
We have been conditioned for decades to doubt ourselves. This self-doubt is the very root, which feeds our desire to conform, and our very attempt to “purchase” acceptance. We buy many products to avoid social ostracism (elevate out popularity, and instill envy). Commercials do not just sell a product they sell an image. An image of acceptance, popularity, likability; all the things we have been trained to desire.
Sex is not the only thing that sells. Fear sells. Fear for your safety, fear of being left out, fear of being laughed at, fear of being out of fashion. Fear sells many products today. Fear sales items ranging from automobile tires and security systems, to acne facial creams. The abundant use of fear selling tactics only takes a back seat to sexuality and prestige marketing gimmicks.
Lean on a man’s weakness, and you can control him. Merchants have discovered ours personal insecurity. Yet not so astonishing, it is the merchants themselves who perpetuates many of the personal insecurities that we feel today. Fear is free, but the remedy has a price. It seems every merchant can alleviate us from these fears with a simple purchase of their product. I have seen many commercials, but I have yet to be left out of any reindeer games because of my “unsightly wrinkles,” “dingy white clothes,” “insecurity causing gray hair,” “stubborn belly fat,” “embarrassing dandruff,” “annoying bikini line,” or my “shameful rust and lime deposits.”
Everybody wants your money and everyone has a ploy to get it. Take the Great American vacation for instance; the second you pass the amusement park gate the bleeding begins: photographers, extremely overpriced meals, and every ride exits right into a souvenir shop with a shiny cash register. Cruises hit you up for expensive alcoholic concoctions. “Live it up, you’re on vacation,” they say. “Come to the spa, live like a king, cut loose. Oh, and don’t forget to let our physical trainers sell you on the latest detox gimmick while you’re aboard.”
No matter what time of the year, every jewelry story hats its wares on sale. Nothing suckers in a foolish sheep like a “Sale” sign. They ask, “wouldn’t you like to save 50% today” and I always reply, “how about I don’t buy shit and save 100%.” Infomercials sell the “greatest inventions ever made” but yet, “if you call right now” the salesman miraculously, “double your order!”
Ever notice how a car salesman’s approach is very friendly and talkative? Other than trying to get you to like him (because salespeople know that we are psychologically inclined to purchase from people we like) he is simply sizing you up. His greeting is peppered with seemingly innocent sounding questions, but the real intent is to feel out your income level. Once your income level is established, the salesman will contour his comments, presentation, and persuasions right towards the highest price range vehicle that he feels you can be qualified for.
Every real estate agent will look at your face for signs. He/she will tell you what you want to hear. Their positive comments are usually accompanied by a head nod subconsciously motioning you to agree. If you seem really interesting in a home, there will usually be an, “offer already on the table and you will have to hurry up and make an offer now.” Many agents will start a showing process by taking you to a home, which is severely overpriced. The point is not to sell you this home, but to make the other homes on the list appear to be a great value in comparison. Funny how these very personable, best-friend-type real estate agents never communicate with you at all once they cash their commission check.
Money, money, money. Integrity now takes a backseat to marketing salesmanship. Morals and ethics have lost the war against persuasive marketing. Profit is the new game, and psychology sets the rules. You have a choice, buy products that bring you personal joy, or become suckered into buying products that are marketed to instill envy and offset insecurity causing phantoms. You can chart you own course and be yourself, or you can be “in fashion” with the rest of the negative net worth manipulated lemming class. If you think these mass marketers and media empires do not have the power to condition a society, think again. Taste in fashion, taste in music, taste in home décor, and even taste in sexuality can all be manipulated by the persuasive orchestra I collectively call: the media. They can push rap music and suppress tock, or they can push rock and suppress rap. (It simply depends upon which format is the most profitable at the time.)
Many companies do a great job of conditioning the populace through commercials. But ask yourself, what is the actual method of salesmanship in a commercial? Are they simply showing us goods that may be of interest to us? Simply explain what they do, and being straightforward and honest about the total cost and limited application? Of course not. They use an arsenal of psychological techniques that attempt to persuade rather than inform. Some attempt to take advantage of our weak minded, copycat nature by persuading us with the use of a paid celebrity “endorsing” their product. But since we seem to be catching on to this technique, many merchants are now employing the use of seemingly off-the-cut testimonials of actors portraying average looking people as an attempt to try to encourage us to buy their product through the persuasive method of social compliance.
Do merchants show us the merits of their product, or simply pander to our laziness by selling “convenience” and “ease”? Do they advertise a product, or do they play into our fantasies and desires by promoting, not simply a product, but a desired lifestyle? The merchants take us as suckers. They mantra is, “Buy, Buy, Bye Suckers.” Their wealth depends on our persuadability, our insecurities, and our ignorance. Why does all of the large corporations have all the wealth, and we have all the bills? Because they’re selling and we’re buying. They’re manipulating, and we’re being manipulated.
Ever wonder why celebrities (who have millions) are given everything? They often receive free dining, free clothing, and free jewelry by the most expensive designers. Have you ever stopped to wonder why many celebrities are paid for appearances at nightclubs? The reason, of course, is to influence you: the consumer. Merchants understand that the identity-less drones will emulate their pop divas, their sports heroes, and their movie stars. Merchandising is no longer about, “Here is my product, I hope you like it, and find it to be a fair exchange for the price.” Nowadays, it is about, “Look at this star” you (insecure purchasing consumer) should do what he/she is doing. “Everyone else is doing it.” “Don’t be left behind!” Hurry, hurry, hurry! Sale, sale, sale!
We are conditioned to pay more than double for what a product is actually worth. Ironically, the inflated cost of many products is the direct result of the cost associated with paying a celebrity or sports “here” to endorse the product. So not only are we weak-minded enough to emulate an actor or sellout whore, we are also foolish enough to pay for his/her salary when we purchase their pimped out product at an inflated cost.
I find it disturbingly comical that American consumers are so deeply conditioned that they are willing to pay more for slick logos and glossy packaged than for the actual merit. (to prove my point, take the tags off a new product, and then see if you can resell it for more than 50% of its original price.) today, it seems “out of fashion” to just be yourself. To get props from the sheep you must be persuaded as persuaded by the intellect offending merchandising tactics as the “cool kids” (a.k.a. “fashionable” lemmings). We have let the merchandisers successfully swap the meaning of “cool,” for “fool.” When you foolishly believe that your possessions define who you are, it becomes official, you have been successfully converted to the new religion of consumerism.
Source: “Advertising (The man behind the curtain),” from The Virus, by Thorin
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