It’s in that order that we are introduced to the concept of these powerful influencers on our lives. From a very young age, we see Advertising on TV and other media. Children as young as four are introduced to, and quickly understand, the concept of need and desire at its most basic. More importantly, they understand the need for immediate gratification and they learn how to manipulate parents to feed their appetite.
As we grow older, we are introduced to God. We’re taken to a place of worship and told that an unseen being is the be all and end all of humanity. As hard a concept as it is to fathom for our young minds we get on with believing because we're told to and that’s what everyone else is doing, plus there’s the singing and the book with all the words in it.
Sex is the last concept we encounter. I believe that we don’t understand its motivations at all, regardless of our age. As teens, our bodies change. We feel unexplained urges, and the concept of Sex manipulates us. Usually, we don’t know why this is happening; we’re just driven to experience it. We chase an orgasm and we don’t even know why. Is it just there to continue the line of our species? Or is it just as simple a notion as gravity – it’s there, you can’t do anything about it, so get over it?
Sex is a powerful, modern day concept. In the United States, the adult entertainment industry rakes in $15 billion per year compared to Hollywood’s $10 billion. That’s an astronomical figure for an industry with only one focus. Bear that in mind for later.
In its heyday, Religion was the unchallenged influential power. People still believe so passionately in a tale woven centuries ago. They believe an ark could carry thousands upon thousands of animals; that a man could live inside a whale; that a man could rise from the dead. In the name of this wars were waged, crusades were lost, inquisitions formed and gas chambers opened. To a scientific, modern mind however, it’s easy to dismiss the power of God.
Advertising as an entity is new when compared to God and Sex. But it’s a lot harder to dismiss simply because Advertising promises so much more, far quicker, with many options and less regret. Advertising has infinite points of manipulation, so much so that if one message doesn’t suit us, we are simply shown another that does. It’s a lot easier to change brands than it is to change Gods. It’s a lot easier, and better accepted, to buy a pair of shoes and brag about it than it is to buy oral sex and brag about that.
I’ll be the first to say I’ve never heard of anyone influenced by advertising to the point that they strap C4 explosives to their bodies and walk into a Harvey Norman shouting “Noel Leeming is Mighty! Noel Leeming is Mighty!” before detonating and eviscerating everyone nearby. But I do know of people who stood in line when KFC brought back the “Double Down” burger. I saw the people who waited in line to go shopping at TopShop when it opened in Queen Street. When was the last time you saw people queuing outside a church or a mosque? When was the last time you saw a long line of people waiting patiently to get into a brothel?
Advertising, for all it's warts and imperfections, has only one purpose: to generate sales.
If you’re an advertiser and you’re not getting sales, you only have yourself to blame. You have at your disposal perhaps the most powerful, widely accepted, mind-altering tool ever known to mankind. If you don't believe me then join the queue outside H&M when it opens later this year in Sylvia Park shopping centre. There you'll see magic at work.