Imagine you just paged through a popular magazine and saw both of these toothpaste advertisements. Shortly after, you find yourself using the last squirt of your old toothpaste, which means it is time to head to the grocery store to pick up some new toothpaste. What a coincidence! I cannot speak for everyone, but personally, after seeing these advertisements, the usual 4-hour debate between buying Crest or Colgate would now be a lot easier.
It was no accident that a beautiful woman, with a beautiful smile ended up on the same page as a tube of Crest toothpaste. To create this advertisement, those in charge of marketing at Crest headquarters were relying on psychological manipulation to get us to buy their product. They are basing this advertisement on the human tendency to react to the unconditioned stimulus of seeing a beautiful person (with beautiful teeth), with the unconditioned response of wanting to look like that person. By pairing the beautiful woman with a tube of Crest toothpaste, the marketers are hoping to establish their product as a conditioned stimulus. As a conditioned stimulus, consumers like ourselves would see Crest toothpaste in stores, feel the wanting emotion that was originally elicited by the unconditioned stimulus, and throw the Crest toothpaste into our carts.
Undoubtedly, tossing this toothpaste into our cart would be adding it to a stack of other products that have been similarly conditioned into our minds. This kind of advertising technique is applied in many scenarios. In this election year, another popular place to find this conditioning is in presidential candidate commercials like this one, for Republican candidate, Rick Santorum. As you will see, all positive emotions are associated with Santorum, while negative emotions are associated with President Obama.
Can you think of other ways that we are constantly being conditioned through advertising?