Infomercial Tricks: Use Big Words

A popular tactic in direct response advertising (infomercials) is the use of complex terminology to increase sales.

It works on your brain like this: Your subconscious sees the terminology it doesn’t understand. It tries to make sense of it by associating with something. Because it sounds scientific, your brain associates it with science. We have been told science is a good thing for reliability and truth. Therefore the product must be good.

This isn’t always the case — just because it ‘sounds’ scientific, doesn’t mean it is based on fact.

For one: The scientific technology may only relate to a single aspect of the product and not the entire product. This is how cigarette makers tried to make cigarettes look healthy:

Most filtered cigarette advertising sought to make claims about the technology behind the filter. Through the use of complex terminology and scientific claims regarding the filter, the cigarette industry wanted to ease fears about the harmful effects of cigarette smoking through risk reduction. However, Leo Burnett decided to address the growing fears through an entirely different matter; creating ads completely void of health concerns or health claims of the filtered cigarette. Burnett felt that making claims about the effectiveness of filters furthered concerns of the long term effects of smoking.

Here the cigarette maker tried to say smoking is better because it’s filtered well. However, the filter does not work with second-hand smoke and the filter only works with a few additives in cigarettes. Never-mind the thousands of other chemicals present.

Second: It may not be scientific at all. Take the patent. Some infomercials will trumpet the use of patents as if it automatically means they have something special. However, those familiar with patents understand they are easy to get.

Bottom line: Don’t be impressed with scientific lingo or patents — they are tactics to get your to trust a product that may not deserve your trust. It is not to say that all scientific lingo or patents should be distrusted; however do not take them as gospel.

“Marlboro Man.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 20 Aug. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlboro_Man>.

“Another 10 Bizarre (And Stupid) Patents.” Top 10 Lists – Listverse. Web. 20 Aug. 2011. <http://listverse.com/2008/06/16/another-10-bizarre-and-stupid-patents/>.

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