Mass media has become a powerful tool to mold people's thoughts and attitudes. It basically tries to define the norm to the mass. I'm not trying to say that advertising is an evil that is taking over society. However, my claim is that advertisers use the concept of classical conditioning to their advantage by manipulating our thoughts when we don't even realize. Advertising has advanced from informative advertisement to full fledged persuasive advertisement. No matter how hard you try to look for an informative ad, you'll find some persuasive tactics used to sell that specific product. There are many ads that aim to keep us from thinking, and instead, make a purchase decision as an emotional response.
Abercrombie & Fitch is a popular clothing company amongst teenagers and young adults. Abercrombie has been involved in many ad controversies because they use racy campaigns like photos of barely clothed models to send a message of sexiness. Their ads become racier every year. Abercrombie is a branch of the brand that targets juniors, or kids under 12. Their clothes are not that much different from their competition. In fact most of their clothes are not even "racy" or "sexy". They sell plaids and t-shirts with their logos, and a ripped jean is as "sexy" as it gets. However, their advertising tactic is the creation of a brand image that manipulates kids into believing they are grown ups. The huge posters in their store show 13 year old models wearing plaids with their bellies showing. When kids go into the store, they associate the clothes with the positive emotion of feeling grown up and looking cool like their older brothers or sisters in high school. The atmosphere in Abercrombie is the exact same as the atmosphere in Abercrombie & Fitch (the adult store). They play the same loud music and have the employees dress the exact same way that they dress in Abercrombie & Fitch. Employees wear an outfit comprised of the current Abercrombie stock and they are all thing and naturally good-looking. Many studies show that the average American desires being wanted and admired by their peers. Abercrombie uses this idea to suggest that their clothes are for sexy grownups and wearing their clothes will make the kids sexy. Abercrombie uses the concept of believability. Their "racy" ads not only influence their target market, but are also presented in a way so that the customers believe their message. They use the sex appeal in their barely-clothed models, loud pop music and dark lit stores to make the kids believe that when they enter the store they are transformed into grownups.
Classical conditioning develops our physiological associations to stimuli that signal important events or emotions. Advertisers like Abercrombie & Fitch use this concept to influence and manipulate kids into thinking that Abercrombie products make them look older and sexier. Kids were persuaded through sexy topless posters and models to purchase Abercrombie clothing through identification with the company image. Their campaigns create an unconditioned response of being grown up and cool among the kids, and a conditioned response of sexiness.