Mad World Open Thread: Which ads have *actually* compelled you to buy something?

Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

OK folks. We’re a little busy here at Bitch HQ today getting ready for our Compromising Positions Forum tonight (you’re coming, right?) so it seemed like the perfect time for a Mad World open forum. The prompt: Which ads have actually compelled you to buy something? Or, have you ever purchased something just because you liked the ad?

I’ll start. Last week I was at a big box store (OK, it was Target) and I was looking for some body wash. Although several brands were cheaper, and they probably all contain roughly the same ingredients, I went with Dove Cream Oil. Why? Because I like the ad! I was taken with the Dove Cream Oil ad for a few reasons. I mean, sure, the name “cream oil” makes you think that the product will moisturize the bejeezus out of your skin, but most body washes have similar names so that wasn’t really a factor here. The real reasons I like the ad are due to its spokeswoman, Whitney. Not only is she super charismatic and ridiculously cute (hey, I fall victim to cuteness just like anyone else) but she is also a chubby black woman–not the norm for beauty product spokeswomen. I couldn’t embed the video for the ad, but you can watch it here, and here’s a screenshot of Whitney with her (now my) body wash:

My charisma and non-normativity compel you! Now, of course Whitney is still a young, beautiful, able-bodied woman, so it’s not as if any major boundaries were broken here. Still, if I’m going to buy body wash, I’d rather support an ad I like than one I don’t. If this ad featured the the more typical thin white woman I wouldn’t have looked twice at it, but Whitney’s presence prompted me to bust out my wallet. (Oh, and yes, I know Dove is owned by the ever-problematic Unilever, but I still like the ad.) This isn’t the first time I’ve purchased something based on the ad campaign, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I guess I figure that I’m voting for quality advertising by purchasing the products (this might not be true, but I like to think it is on some level). So what I want to know is, which ads have prompted you to buy something? Have you ever purchased something you normally wouldn’t have just because you thought the ad was clever/fun/interesting/unconventional? Let the open thread begin! OH_Logo.jpg

This project was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH’s grant program. Any views, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Oregon Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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23 Comments Have Been Posted

I admit it:

the U by Kotex shtick totally worked on me. (It's the line we all discussed at .) Not only did the ironic ads, despite all their problems, entertain me; I'm a sucker for bright colors and cool patterns. Do I need neon tampons or pads with cool swirls? No, but I *do* need menstrual products, so why shouldn't I enjoy some extra colors and patterns? At least, that's how I rationalized it to myself.
Before the out-of-proportion price started to bug me, my go-to tampons were the Tampax Pearl multipack, but I don't think I ever saw their ads. That was a purely color-based decision (and, yeah, the fact that they were compact and comfortable didn't hurt.) I loved the way the green, yellow and purple applicators looked peeking out of the box -- like exotic Mardi Gras flowers!
In fact, I think packaging, which can be considered part of a product's advertising force, has a more profound effect on me than commercials or print ads. This first hit me in college, when I was troubled to realize that I enjoyed Hershey's Nut Lovers less in this form than this one .

Those Dunkin Donuts ads- the

Those Dunkin Donuts ads- the catchy tunes stayed in my head, and when Dunkin Donuts came to my town, I bought.

Oh yeah, I agree. Those

Oh yeah, I agree. Those Dunkin Donuts ads were something. Dunkin Donuts is so ubiquitous where I live that I'm not sure I can claim that I bought more as a direct result of that campaign. However, I do have to admit that they effectively changed my mental image of the chain to something cool and fun rather than last-ditch-effort-to-stay-awake-during this road trip coffee. In fact, it was not uncommon to find me singing "doing things is what I like to do" on a typical Saturday afternoon for a couple of months last year. Damn you, They Might Be Giants.

I'm not going to lie

Cadbury Creme Egg commercials. Those adorable fuzzy animals get me every time!

It is quite sad to say, but

It is quite sad to say, but in a fit of low self-esteem and too much Oxygen network, I was compelled by a bazillion Weight Watchers ads to sign up for a free trial. I'm not sure this counts as purchasing something because I canceled by account before the free trial was up. In fact, I canceled my account after just one day because I realized that, while they are promoting themselves as a healthy weight loss option, they are still pretty messed up and basically taking money from insecure ladies (which I like to think we can all be sometimes). And that thinking about food as "points" instead of actual food isn't helping anyone, and that I can't get behind the promotion of reduced-fat cheese and poorly written articles on emotional eating.

At least I felt a little better when they asked why I was canceling my account, and I said I didn't need their crazy weight obsessed crap in my life.

I agree. and on that note

I agree. and on that note anything that has ever been endorsed by Queen Latifa. Needless to say, she's made me watch some pretty mediocre movies, but she always makes me smile.

I go for Dawn Hand Soap every time.

The whole 'one dollar goes to save animals' angle would make me buy ANYTHING, but cute baby animals don't hurt. ;)

hmm, I dont watch a lot of

hmm, I dont watch a lot of TV, but I have impulse purchased cute cloth diapers for my young son after seeing adorable ads online or in mothering magazine. hmm what else? Krogers opened a "chippery" and every time I would walk by the section I grabbed a bag - I think I liked name more then the actual potato chips. I too am not exempt from effective marketing*sigh*

While I may not be swayed by

While I may not be swayed by advertisement, I am a total sucker for product packaging. I love things that are simple and sleek. Hence, why I use Ivory soap. It is white and the product packaging is striped down to the bear essentials. Also, Ivory Soap, Simply Ivory scored a 3 for toxicity ( in a scale of 0 - 10) on the EWG: Cosmetic Safety Database.

Product packaging is also how i decide what brand of a product to purchase when confronted with a multitude of brands for the same product. It's a hit or miss technique.


I love Ivory for the same reasons! I got my love of the soap from my mother. I also prefer things that are stripped down. A lot of marketing doesn't work on me, though. I automatically flip something over to the look at the ingredients and (if food) calories. If anything, things marketed as "just for women!" tweak me and have the opposite effect. I'm ok with buying the exact same products, but for the MUCH lower price with the "manly" labelling (e.g. razors, shaving cream, body washes, etc.). :)


Although I don't have a Mac or iPhone or iPad or whatever, I do own an iPod and lust over a lot of Apple products. Why? Their ads are just perfect. Simple white background, lots of shots of the sleek looking Apple products. I'm not talking about the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" nonsense (nerdy Jon Hodgman beats Justin Long's hipster Mac any day of the week), but the really simple iPhone ads make me want one even though I think they're a little excessive and pricey. However, those Google Droid ads freak me out.

Here's a vintage Apple ad that is so perfect in its simplicity:

Also, the Google ad that played during the Super Bowl made me want to use Google more. I guess that's different than buying a product but not really. Here it is: (it's pretty cute)

Agree on all fronts.

JNH, I totally agree with you that the simple Apple ads are the best and they make me want to buy the products. Also, who in the world would think Justin Long was cooler than John Hodgman?

Oh, and good call on the google ad. I actually wrote about that campaign in a different Mad World Open Thread (–I think it's so creative and clever. Good thing I use Google all the time already.

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor


Their iPod commercial featuring the Feist song totally made me buy the song. (Already had the iPod.)

Forgot to add...

Their "Think Different" campaign back in the late 90s was also awesome, I just wasn't purchasing things at that time! If I hadn't been broke and in college, it might have gotten me.

Target ads are my weakness.

Target ads are my weakness. There was one featuring a nice black lady who power walked and had a nice kitchen and then went to work.

I know that commercials the reason I have the same dishes and pot holders. I also find it interesting seeing "myself" really <em>did</em> make me relate to the product. I haven't had as many experiences with that so I often found people swayed by advertising to be a bit silly.

Being judgmental is bad idea jeans.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I remember that power walker!

Target ads have an effect on me too (see above for evidence of me shopping there) and I totally remember that nice power walking black lady–she was so put together and pretty! She made me feel like I should get up earlier in the morning to power walk before work.

Good observation that when we see ourselves we relate more to the product. I think this is true across the board, which is why advertisers should wise up and include some more diverse representations in their campaigns. We'll buy the stuff if you just show people like us using it!

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor

Goodyear is still taking me home!

Agreed. I wonder if this also is the reasoning for my general disinterest in Apple products. Watching their advertising - particularly the PC/MAC spots - made me think, "Oh, they're not talking to me."

Also, I related more to the nerdy PC guy and wondered if he had commercial. I would buy products from him.

I'm fairly certainly I've been a longtime loyalist to Goodyear tires because of their memorable <a href="">Take me Home</a> ad campaign from the late 80s.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kotex Click

After seeing the commercial and ads for Kotex's click tampons, I decided to give them a try. It was the first tampon commercial I saw that didn't make tampons seem over ridiculous or fun and girly, because the truth is, periods suck! But these tampons don't! Besides, the packaging is also pretty awesome. I'm not a sucker for ads or packages, but this was the exception for me! Give 'em a try, ladies!

The orgasm in a bottle ads

I was in middle school when the Herbal Essences ads came out, and although I didn't totally understand it at the time, the shots of organismic women were pretty subversive in my little middle class, single-white-mother-in-grad-school world. Sex was explained to me at a young age, but *sexuality* was a really touchy subject and not discussed, or even insinuated, so seeing women get to have *that* much fun was amazing. So I bought the shampoo, which as it turns out is *not* the best product for my hair -- a fact I finally figured out years later after much trial and error with other products. But there's still a soft spot in my heart for those ads, even though they are terribly cheesy now.


Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" gets me every single time. i love their products, too, that doesn't hurt -- especially the unscented deo and the body wash. heavenly.

I bought those...bobby pin

I bought those...bobby pin thingies like the day after I saw the commercial. The ones where they're like...12 bobby pins in one? I was very sad to discover my hair wasn't quite long enough to use them yet. D:

Does TV sway the way you think?

<p>Before television, communication took place in an orderly sequence of words; then through mental steps, plus recall of past experiences while listening or reading, you would come to a conclusion. It was logic. For example, an apple has a stem, it is semi-round, red thin peeling of the outside, with seeds in its core. To listen or read this statement, you go through mental steps. Your brain analyzes each step and puts together a mental picture from them, which you conclude from what you heard, and also from past experiences concerning apples that are already stored in your memory. You had to be alert, in a state of attentiveness. What science has found and proven is that television skips most of these steps in the brain and it is just there in image. Because the image of an event is infinitely closer to reality than any written or spoken account, television has a way of becoming more real than life itself. Something opposed to reading a book. The book requires your effort and when read, it is always better than the movie. Watching it on television you are passive, limiting your imagination to what you see. Understanding this is important to realize what the TV actually does to you when you watch it.</p>
<p><strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;Researcher, Herbert Krugman, wanted to find out what happens to the brain of a person watching TV. &nbsp;Monitoring subjects' brain waves, he found repeatedly that within about 30 seconds the beta waves which indicate alert and conscious attention change to alpha waves which indicate lack of focus and lack of attention; the state of aimless fantasy and daydreaming which is below the state of alert consciousness. &nbsp;When given something to read, beta waves reappeared. &nbsp;What surprised Krugman the most was how rapidly the alpha state emerged. &nbsp;Surprisingly, more research proved just as astounding: &nbsp;the left side of the brain is the side that accepted the step you just read about the description of the apple. &nbsp;It processes the information and critically analyzes it. &nbsp;The right side of the brain forms the images of what you think or see, receives information emotionally, and does not critically analyze it, leaving that job to the left side. &nbsp;The right side is where images are formed. &nbsp;It perceives the world in terms of moods, sensations, feeling, starts to form an image and is dependent on the left side to analyze and logically help it to form the image. &nbsp;Krugman concluded, "the brain responds to the medium or television, not the content difference." &nbsp;In other words, the "medium," the "thing" causes the left side (beta) of the brain, which defends your thoughts, your values, to tune out, bypassings your logical reasoning process, going straight to the right side (alpha) which contains all the feelings and sensations to implant, prompt, stamp, or mark an image in your mind and which can be made use of in temptations. &nbsp;Krugman, along with other researchers, has found that watching television tends to shut down the left side, thereby disengaging the information processing of this area of the brain. &nbsp;Krugman concluded: &nbsp;"What you receive on TV is not thought about at the time you see it."</strong></p>
<p>There is no ability to reason and reflect and defeat a temptation if it is already presented to you and you entertained it.</p>
<p>Do you really think you are deciding whether or not to buy, if the TV is telling your subconscious that you want it; it's a really great idea? &nbsp;How about sex scenes? &nbsp;Is it okay to watch, engage in offensive sex? &nbsp;The TV shows us these scenes all the time. &nbsp;It's okay then, right? &nbsp;Everybody does it and we are told subconsciously that it is normal. &nbsp;How about our kids, what are they being fed through the TV. &nbsp;Jersey Shore, in my opinion one of the worst shows that is normally accepted by teens and young adults, tells our kids that it's okay to be dumb and sexually permissive. &nbsp;</p>
<p>TV is dumbing down our world!</p>

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