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Marketing Manipulation ~ Dilbert August 13, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, Mindfulness, People.

Dilbert’s satirical swipes at office life aren’t limited to inter-office politics.  

This strip highlights the psychological impact of advertising lures and marketing manipulation on gullible consumers . . .

Thought to Ponder:  Who’s responsible for deception in advertising?  Marketing managers . . . or the consumers who buy into their lures?

Addendum:  Rik’s word of the day ties in nicely with this post ~ Nimiety:

Nimiety pimiety biggiety boo
Owning a nimiety of stuff tends to suffocate you!
Nimiety pimiety biggiety bop
You’ll have a nimiety of stuff if you shop til you drop
Nimiety pimiety biggiety buff
You stop living in nimiety when you learn to say ENOUGH!

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  Sidey’s Weekend Theme ~ Advertising * What Have You Been Told? * I Need A ThneedThose Alluring Lures * Annie Leonard & The Story of Stuff * You Better Stop Shopping Around * 137 Steps To Flawless Perfection


1. creatingreciprocity - August 13, 2011

It’s like Sylvester McMonkey McBean isn’t it? He was able to rip-off the Sneetches because they were foolishly full of prejudice. Once they began to think for themselves they weren’t only happier they were less vulnerable – good old Dr. Seuss!

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

That is a terrific analogy! Sylvester McMonkey McBean duped the Sneetches into buying something they didn’t need because their Egos wanted to feel more important than other Sneetches.

Dr. Seuss is MY HERO! 😀

2. Maggie - August 13, 2011

We don’t think hard enough about what we should and should not buy. If it looks cool and does cool things, the majority tend to go right out and buy it – then when it doesn’t work out, they complain about it and pitch a fit.

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

So true! Conformity these days seems to mean granite countertops (which are a pain to maintain), stainless steel appliances (that show each and every finger smudge), and double sinks in the master bath (twice as much mess to clean up):

Anything less just will not do!
What would others think of you?!

Silly rabbits! 😛

3. Carl D'Agostino - August 13, 2011

Vance Packard wrote Hidden Persuaders in 1954 detailing how well researched psychology is used to mold and manipulate consumers whether it be by subliminal suggestion or down right appeal to ego and glamour beyond our means and certainly of no practical use in most cases. They have been so successful, they have 2/3 of the world addicted to cell phones and all sorts of gadgetry. And you keep buying because of the planned upgrades. It is astonishing that we can’t see our own enslavement.

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

Sounds like Vance knew what he was talking about. Too bad “we” didn’t listen. 😦

So many people sleepwalk through life, working to buy stuff that they don’t have time to enjoy to impress people they don’t even like. What a waste!

The advertising moguls appeal to glamour, and status, and feelings of entitlement (you work hard . . . you’re worth it), etc.

I rarely jump on the “New Toy Bandwagon” . . . preferring instead to let the technology get settled into a groove first ~ if it doesn’t (because technology is moving at the speed of light), I just stick with low tech toys . . . like books and CD’s. 😀

4. kateshrewsday - August 13, 2011

Lots to ponder there. Deception comes from all directions, and I sometimes wonder if we are getting rather good at self-decieving when it comes to acquiring material goods.

A lot of what we buy, we don’t need.

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

We are SO GOOD at deceiving our selves!

Our Ego looks out there, finds something to “desire,” and then it tells us why we NEED, NEED, NEED that particular THNEED!

And we don’t need that thneed at all. 😀

5. MrBillyD - August 13, 2011

There’s an ancient legal principal, that goes back beyond the time of the Romans; all the way back to the very first, primitive, prehistoric market places: “Caveat emptor”. That’s Latin. It means “The buyer beware”.

nrhatch - August 13, 2011


When we swallow advertising lures . . . hook, line, and sinker . . . we have no one to blame but ourselves. 😀

6. adeeyoyo - August 13, 2011

I can testify to that! Internet service providers will sell you a contract for a gadget giving internet connection. Then when you cannot connect they tell you that they don’t understand it as the reception, acccording to their technical dept., is excellent! Then when you throw a tantrum in their premises in front of other customers, they finally agree to send out a technician. The technician arrives and, guess what, there is no reception. 3-4 months into the contract and more denials, you finally get them to admit that they have not provided any service and they promise to cancel the contract. Another month. Finally contract is cancelled and debits, which I refused to pay with the backing of the bank, were written off.

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

I’m glad you got out of that contract.

When consumers insist on getting what they paid for . . . businesses learn that we are not a bunch of ignorant sheep.

7. Richard W Scott - August 13, 2011

What works in advertising is driven by the same dynamic that works in “The News”. That is, advertisers and news agencies, dish out to us what has been shown we will buy.

In other words, we, the news and commodity consumer are responsible for products that come out, or the news that we hear.

Have you ever wondered why you never (almost never) see a “Good News” broadcast program? They’ve been tried over and over, but they always fail. We want pain, suffering, and death (of somebody else).

We want the next cool product or tool because we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that the world judges us by our belongings, so we do, too.

nrhatch - August 13, 2011


When we stop watching ridiculous “reality” shows . . . they will disappear from the airwaves.

When we stop buying gas guzzlers . . . car manufacturers will invest in more fuel efficient technology.

When we realize that who we are is not the same thing as “what we own” . . . our possessions will no longer possess us.

8. enermazing - August 13, 2011

Advertisers go with the lures that work best.

Every customer has free will and some consciousness. As for marketing tricks and subliminal messages, there’s enough information available on- and off-line to get people thinking, to increase their awareness and their doubts.

But how many people bother to find out, or question why they might be attracted to certain products?

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

Exactly. Ad slogans like “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” are designed to imply that everyone who is anyone wants diamonds ~ for birthdays, anniversaries, and other gift giving occasions.

9. SidevieW - August 13, 2011

so very true, and the legal requirement for truth in advertising is always being ignored

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

At least drug manufacturers in the states must list the reported side effects of their big sellers ~ death, blindness, incontinence, heart attack, stroke, etc.

Sometimes the warnings are longer than the rest of the commercial. 😀

10. Patricia - August 13, 2011

When we learn that happiness does not come from what we have on the outside but from who we are on the inside advertisers will have no powers of deception.

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

Yes, as the Grinch found out from the Whos down in Whoville:

[Happiness] doesn’t come from a store.
[Happiness] means just a little bit more.

11. Naomi - August 13, 2011

Too true, Nancy…here’s to traveling light!

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

I very rarely conclude that I need every new widget that comes on the market ~ less is more.

12. Rosa - August 13, 2011

Could not be more true! We can be convinced of the usefulness of just about anything!!!

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

These days purchases we make are much more conscious and deliberate. No deprivation . . . but plenty of careful consideration.

13. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - August 13, 2011

All of the above.Did you hear the brits sued over anti-aging ads?

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

No. Diet pills and anti-aging creams definitely make people’s ears perk up, eh?

We saw a sign today that we liked . . . FREE Ice Cream. Home Depot was handing out ice cream cones as part of a promotion. A FUN surprise. 😀

14. souldipper - August 13, 2011

Who’s responsible?
Neither marketer nor mad consumer be!

Fun to see one topic keep showing up in several, seemingly unrelated blogs.

nrhatch - August 13, 2011

It’s so easy to get caught up in the merry-go-round of wanting every new gizmo and gismet as soon as it hits the shelves. By hanging back just a bit, we see that we often don’t need that gizmo at all.

Aah . . . that’s better. 😀

15. jannatwrites - August 14, 2011

I think we see what we want to in a product. It’s easy to be blinded by slick marketing and high hopes.

I spent a few hours today researching cameras because my older son wants to buy one for his birthday. His criteria? “It looks cool – it has a touch screen. I want it!”

Like I would let him make such an uninformed purchase! We read the reviews to see if the negatives mentioned would be of concern for his use and narrowed it down to three, which we will look at again another day. Then starts the price comparisons…

P.S. I laughed at your comment above about granite and stainless steel – we have white appliances and laminate countertops…the horror 🙂

nrhatch - August 14, 2011

Same here! You shop how we shop! You live how we live!

We have white laminate countertops and white cabinets and white appliances. House Beautiful will never use our kitchen for its centerfold. We do not lose sleep over that. 😛

We’re updating the kitchen by swapping out the white plastic handles on the cabinets for brushed nickel handles.
We’ve narrowed our choices to three . . . and now the price comparison begins. 😆

16. Team Oyeniyi - August 14, 2011

You might like this story. A few years ago I was working for a software development company and the marketing manager came to be with our latest full page ad in Cosmo (or Cleo – I forget – one of them)and very excitedly asked me how I liked the ad.

I said to her, “I never read ads”. She looked at me in amazement. “How do you decide what to buy, then” she asked. “Not by reading ads”, was my response. She wandered off totally perplexed to find someone else to ask.

nrhatch - August 14, 2011

Love that story! People are so surprised to learn that their way of interacting with the world is NOT the only way of interacting with the world.

My cousin-in-law asked me once what teams I followed. I said, “I don’t watch sports.” He looked at me as if I’d confessed to a heinous crime . . . “You don’t watch sports? How come? Everybody watches sports.” Not me! 😀

17. Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 14, 2011

Good post. I just recently became involved in a copywriting course (writing advertising copy) and learned many principles on how to write to attract the eye of the consumer. I wouldn’t say it’s trickery, but I will say the gift of the gab is a definite asset, along with charisma and some writing skills.

We are advised to write to the prospective customers fears (he won’t be successful without xx product – only they put it in a positive way – such as you will be more successful than you dreamed with xx product which can (apparently do everything except clean the toilet)) and their desires (my customers have become so successful that they own fabulous homes and have RVs so they can yadayada) and pride (you work hard and you deserve xxproduct just as much as your neighbor – notice stimulating competition).

This is all very rough and off the cuff, but that is some of what copywriting is about.

nrhatch - August 14, 2011

Yup ~ ads play to our insecure ego and its concerns about fitting in, getting applause, gaining approval, etc.

When we consciously tune in and pay attention to the choices we’re making, we are less susceptible to manipulation by marketing moguls, advertisers, our peers, and our fragile egos. 😀

18. Tilly Bud - August 14, 2011

I love Dilbert. Good post, Nancy 🙂

nrhatch - August 14, 2011

Thanks, TillyB. I wonder if Brian (the highly intelligent talking dog on Family Guy) is related to Dilbert?

19. Alannah Murphy - August 14, 2011

I love Dilbert. Catbert is my favourite, and sadly, I’ve known some HR Director that are almost as evil in real life lol

P.S Owning stuff is highly over-rated. I hardly own stuff, and I feel better…

nrhatch - August 14, 2011

Same here! I wonder who came up with the name “Human Resources” . . . and what the initials “H.R.” really stand for? 😛

Downsizing has been a big benefit to us as we moved from where we were to where we wanted to be.

20. eof737 - August 17, 2011

We collude with the advertisers to keep the racket going. 🙂 I mean, look around… We read the mags and see the ads, and know that the cream won’t deliver on half its promises… yet, we go run and buy it. C’est la vie! 🙂

nrhatch - August 17, 2011

So true, E! I was way ahead of the game when I decided to simplify my life since I rarely read magazines or pay attention to ads . . . especially beauty ads.

That made it easier for me to see that less is more.

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