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Top 5 Advertising Gimmicks That You Have Fallen For

Chris has more than 10 years of experience writing articles on a variety of topics for more than a dozen publications, blogs, and websites.

Advertising gimmicks

Advertising gimmicks

The Daily Life of Advertisements

In today's Internet world, advertisements have become a part of our daily life. In fact, if it weren't for advertising, many of the opportunities to make money with the Internet would not be available to us.

Advertisers have always pushed the edge regarding getting the word out on a product. From deceptive slogans and exaggerated imagery to extreme publicity stunts and even subliminal messaging, marketing majors have tried nearly everything to sell a product.

In the end, though, whatever the marketing campaign is, it always comes down to selling a product or service. For advertisers and marketers, there are five tried and true methods that are guaranteed to coerce the consumer into spending their money.

Memorable Slogans/Jingles

  • Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon? (Grey Poupon Mustard)
  • Silly Rabbit! - Trix are for Kids! (Trix Cereal)
  • Waassup? (Budweiser Beer)
  • Have it your way! (Burger King)
  • Got Milk? (California Milk Producers)
  • Like a rock (GM Trucks)
  • Gimme a break… Gimme a break…Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar (Kit Kat Candy Bar)
  • What would you do for a Klondike bar? (Klondike Ice Cream)
  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hands (M & M’s candies)
  • Like a good neighbor…..State Farm is there (State Farm Insurance)
  • I'd like to teach the world to sing (Coca-Cola)
  • I'm Lovin' It (McDonalds)
  • Check out the rest of this list here: Greatest Slogans and Jingles of all Time.

Jingles, Slogans, and Catch Phrases

Think back to your childhood. I bet you can think of several jingles and slogans that have etched themselves into your brain. Jingles work because they play on your emotions and attraction to rhythm and harmony.

Jingle makers exploit your brain's ability to remember things through associations by carefully choosing words that create something that is hard to forget. When making a purchasing decision, these "little songs" will subconsciously be brought to the front of your mind. This forces you to think about a particular product and may even compel you to buy it. Oftentimes, these catchphrases can also get "stuck in your head," making you think about it for a very long time.

Some of the best Jingles and Slogans have been around for decades. Check the list to the right and see how many you remember.

Customer Testimonials

While it is true that the best form of advertising is word of mouth from a happy buyer, a customer testimonial can sometimes be an advertising gimmick. This type of deceptive advertising is most often seen on those infomercials that I know you have been sucked into watching. Most of the time, these 'customers' are actually paid actors. The next time an infomercial comes on, check for these things to help identify who are the paid actors and the genuine buyers:

  1. Listen to the words of the customers. Do they sound staged, rehearsed, or like they are read from a cue card?
  2. Do the customers appear as if they are out of place? Do they seem timid or nervous?
  3. Look for the fine print on the screen. Sometimes it is splashed on the screen for a short period of time or is so small it can barely be read.

Celebrity Endorsements

A recent study by Brand Affinity Technologies has clearly shown that celebrity endorsements are more effective than regular forms of advertisements on social media. The same is true for other advertising mediums (such as radio and TV), and advertisers know this.

In our celebrity-obsessed society, it's easy to see how this would work. But does a celebrity endorsement really mean that the product works well or that it is superior? No, it doesn't. It simply means that that company has a bigger marketing budget than the other guys do. Despite this, consumers still fall for this gimmick every day.

Coupons/Discount Cards

Coupons, which sometimes afford great deals, are actually an advertising gimmick. The idea of saving money will usually make a consumer feel good about themselves and could propel them into a purchase they would not have otherwise made. Are you really saving money, though, if you had to spend money that you had no intention of spending in the first place?

Also, many coupons only knock off a small portion of an already marked-up price. Oftentimes, there are products available that are cheaper than a brand name product with a coupon. That's not to say that coupons are bad or useless. Intelligent use of coupons can and will result in major savings. However, this usually requires a little more work on the part of the consumer (such as following sales, looking for double and triple coupon offers, driving to multiple stores, etc.).

Grocery store discount cards also fall into this category. How many times have you been to your local grocer only to realize at the time of check out that you have forgotten your shopper card at home? Now you must resort to begging or even crying to the other patrons to get the discount. How silly is that? Personally, I hate loyalty shopper cards for this reason.

If I forget my card, I must pay 'full price' (actually, this is should be called an inflated price, because everyone gets the discount but me in this case). Maybe I'm in the minority, but for this reason, I avoid shopping at these establishments. Besides, in my experience, these "discount cards" really don't save you any money. They're just a way for businesses to collect and analyze your shopping habits.


We've all probably heard that it takes around 66 days to form a habit. That is to say that after doing something repeatedly for at least 66 days, it will become an automatic action. Advertisers also know this. Did you know that the average person views around 3,000 advertisements a day? People can't possibly comprehend that many messages every day.

Repetition helps ensure that an advertiser's message is comprehended and understood. It is a key concept when attempting to get a consumer's attention. Eventually, consumers may give in and try a product simply because they've heard the commercial a multitude of times.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Could you get in trouble if you paid actors that said they bought items and you asked them to share what they thought about them? Could you go to jail or would you just get in trouble and not be able to make an advertisement? Is there any way to figure out if the person is not telling the truth?

Answer: It's not illegal to use paid actors to sell a product. Depending on what the actors do and say, it may be unethical. I would recommend getting the actors to use the products and give you a real, authentic opinion of the products. Alternatively, I would use actors to play the part of a real customer. Real customers may be happy with a product, but they may not do well in front of a camera. In any case, if you hire actors, they should not lie. If you have actors that lie, it could undermine the credibility of your advertisement and your product. People who see the ads may be able to tell that the actors are lying. When thinking about advertising, it's important to focus on your audience and your message.


passerby on August 18, 2014:

Interesting to see how these gimmicks work with myself - or rather how they don't work! All this because I haven't watched TV for many years.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on November 04, 2013:

Yeah, eventually everone succumbs to advertising techniques whether they want to admit it or not.

Rohan Rinaldo Felix from Chennai, India on November 04, 2013:

Interesting hub! Everyone falls for advertising one way or the other. I work in advertising btw.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on July 03, 2012:

Brinafr3sh - Hey thanks! Yeah, sometimes I will be concentrating on something at work and a jingle will pop into my head for no reason. For some reason the State Farm and Chili's Baby Back Ribs jingles always stuck with me.

Brinafr3sh from West Coast, United States on July 02, 2012:

Hi Cwanamaker, you make good points about the advertising gimmicks. Especially the jingles in commercials do stick with you from childhood, like the one about C&H Sugar. Although I don't buy white sugar anymore and I don't think I ever will. Informative article thanks, voted up. BTW congrat! on the 100,000 views.

James Ranka from Port Neches on May 07, 2012:

Interesting . . . one of the books you have listed for purchase at Amazon is "Ogilvy on Advertising." In that book, considered the 'bible of advertising', Ogilvy discourages the use of celebrities in TV commercials. He concludes viewers are too transfixed on the celebrity instead of the product. He also writes, there exists NO evidence that music adds to TV or radio advertising effectiveness.

danish bichu on March 27, 2012:

The article is very good noy only because it helped me for my project but also for the information which i was not aware of.

wldtky44 from Great North Kingdom on March 09, 2012:

Like many of us I've been burned. It's a form of propaganda with the little jingles and constant bombardment. It's like Hey, enough already.

ilitek on September 24, 2011:

it is helpful hub for me

Manuel Porras from Germany, Colombia, USA, Panama, Mexico, Spain on September 21, 2011:

I like this Hub Very Usefull thanks

Jeff_McRitchie on August 30, 2011:

Yep, advertising is definitely tricky. Thanks for identifying the 5 gimmicks!

Bruce Chamoff from New York on June 11, 2011:

Stephanie, yes jingles are very effective marketing strategies and they are meant to make you keep the product in your head.

CWanamaker, if possible, could you please add to your jingle list the Coca Cola jingle which uses the song "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" and Burger King "Have It Your Way". Even 30 years later, I still remember those.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on June 10, 2011:

I admit it— I've fallen for all of these gimmicks myself at one time or another. It's funny that, even when you can see that it's a gimmick, you still are swayed by certain things. When Bill Cosby advertised Jello pudding, I was sure it was healthy and good. If I see M&M's, I always think of their "melt in your mouth..." jingle. I do hate store customer cards and some repetitive commercials make me so crazy that I turn the sound off when they are shown on tv! Great hub! Voted up and useful.

Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on June 08, 2011:

Yeah they all do work.

Customer Acquisition Marketin on June 08, 2011:

They may be scams, but they sure do trick people and get them to buy things. The glories of marketing.

Bruce Chamoff from New York on June 07, 2011:

Hey CWanamaker, great hub and article. I agree with you 100% on everything, especially about Customer Testimonials but the repetition section. That is not really a gimmick. Repetition is more a basic advertising principle called "frequency" and advertisers do use it to form habits of memory in a potential customer's mind, and yes, it is repetition and I will say that repetition is annoying at times to the consumer, but it does help an advertiser build a brand and branding is always the goal.