The Enigma

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Thin Line

The core of advertising today lies heavily on Cognitive Dissonance, according to me. Cognitive Dissonance in Advertising, if I were to concisely put it, is the process of making the customer feel incomplete without your product. Through a flurry of PoP materials, TVCs and other advertisement channels, pre-purchase intentions are created in the customer's mind by creating a sense of incompleteness in the customer without the product. To me, an amazing example of Cognitive Dissonance well used in the Indian context is the Tata Safari's campaign of 'Reclaim Your Life'.

But many people I have met and spoken to tend to associate Cognitive Dissonance with 'Emotional Appeal' in Advertising. This is more so, I guess, because Indian Advertising hasn't been bold enough to employ Cognitive Dissonance for long and has always relied on the Power of Emotions to bond with the customer. Both Cognitive Dissonance and Emotional Advertising use the basic premise of attacking human emotions. While Cognitive Dissonance creates guilt, regret, want or will in the customer, Emotional Advertising strikes a chord with every emotion in the book and makes the customer bond with the product. It is important for Direct to Consumer Advertising to have an emotional element, but it could choose between creating a dissonance or just plain appeal to the customer's emotions. But, with marketers trying hard not to even dream of making the customers unhappy, Cognitive Dissonance has taken a backseat and Emotional Advertising has been ruling the roost.

At the first look, we tend to look at the Emotions and by default tend to file them under the 'Emotional Appeal used in Advertising' Category. This is also because Cognitive Dissonance is slowly setting in in Indian Advertising, and isnt too blatantly used as of now. Dissonance has also set into the market because of the wider Customer base and his nascent needs and his unexpressed realisations of incompleteness which he doesn't let out into open for the fear of embarassment. While Fairness Creams segment has long relied on Dissonance creation, there are several others entering the fray big time now.

There was always Dissonance creation through Advertising, more so because many products need it to be created to be sold but we never realised them clearly and always took that to be Emotional Advertising. One campaign I feel that uses Cognitive Dissonance is Ambuja Cement, while many feel its Emotional Appeal. In fact, probably it is one of the advertisements that ends on The Thin Line that separates Cognitive Dissonance and Emotional Advertising.

Rather, I would file Cadbury's Diary Milk under the Emotional Category for it touches not the product, but the emotions of life, that of happiness, and joy. Ambuja Cement more or less speaks only of the product, and makes you look at your own walls. It could have been in the Dissonance category, but it is a product that is purchased only one at least in the Indian market. We dont cement our walls every year.

The Thin Line between Cognitive Dissonance and Emotional Advertising must be clear when we compare similar but Emotional ads with the already mentioned Tata Safari Dicor ad. The ads that fall into a similar category are that of Smirnoff - The Life is Calling. Where are you? campaign- and Bajaj Avenger - Feel Like God campaign. These products portray emotions of celebration and ego, and they do not put the customer into guilt or grief. They put the customer into thinking what he could have been doing now had he had that brand.

The bottom line is that an advertisement falls into the Cognitive Dissonance or Emotional Appeal categories not based on where the customer or viewer puts the ad or brand, but where the ad or brand puts the customer! :)

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At March 12, 2008 4:49 PM, Blogger Priya Shah said...

I think the Insurance ad's are very emotionally inclined ( when i say insurance add i dont mean the recent reliance Life insurance ad - that is not only horrible but is a sorry rip off of bob dylans song - winds are changing.)

At March 14, 2008 2:21 PM, Blogger Sangeetha said...

I guess you forgot the ever-famous and favourite ad of all Telugus - the Margadarsi ad. I think that was one of those first ads which created an impact and made people feel that they are incomplete without Margadarsi. It was basically because of the economic structure of the society at that time, but that's a different issue.

At April 10, 2008 5:26 PM, Blogger Ujj said...

cognitive what? boy! if only I could take you back a couple of years and show you what you'd start to write in future! Wonder if you'd still want to study management then.


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