Advertisers think very carefully about who they are designing the advert for. They look at our needs, fears, hopes, desires and dreams. And different groups of people have different fears and dreams. So then the adverts will be designed differently.

Let’s look at an example. We’ve got a new product: Cheekos Chips. We want to sell them to everyone.

Advert one: For mothers, who want their families to be happy, we can have pictures of children smiling, and we can emphasise the fact that Cheekos are baked not fried – as baking is healthier, and parents want their children to be healthy. So let’s use the caption: Cheekos – a healthy treat for the whole family! Baked not fried!  And then a picture of happy healthy children eating chips.

Advert two: We also want to advertise our chips to teenagers. But they aren’t so concerned with health. What do they want? Teenagers are interested in romance. So how can we make them associate Cheekos with romance? Let’s have a picture of a sunset, with a girl and boy.. and the girl is offering a packet of Cheekos to the girl. And let’s have the byline: Cheekos.. for those romantic moments, cheek to cheek…

Those two adverts were aimed at desires – the desire for a healthy family, the desire to be romantic. But advertisers use all sorts of other techniques, for example, fear. What do parents fear? Their children getting hurt. So car adverts aimed at parents will emphasise the safety features that protect people if there is an accident? What do teenagers fear? They fear being left out, being unfashionable, being laughed at. So many adverts aimed at teens emphasise that everyone is using this particular product, eg a cellphone, and if you aren’t then you aren’t cool and you are not part of the group.

So always be aware, when you see adverts, that they are trying to manipulate you into buying something by playing on your own feelings. And then decide whether you really need that product at all!