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In “The Hard Sell: Advertising in America”, Bill Bryson gives specific insight on the necessity of being more aware of why you buy what you buy. Bryson argues that the product name must be short, simple and unique. He states, “First. It is short. Second. It is not capable of mispronunciation. Third. It does not resemble anything in the art…” (425). Another effective advertising strategy that Bryson observes is the “giveaway”. Bryson states, “Consumers became acquainted with the irresistibly tempting notion that if they bought a particular product they could expect a reward…” (427). Bryson also asserts the importance of creating in the consumer a feeling of anxiety that makes the consumer feel as if they NEED the product and not just merely WANT it (428-429). Another efficient selling tactic is the use of scientific-sounding terms, according to Bryson, “There was never slightest hint of what GL-70 was, but it would, according to the advertising, not only rout odor-causing bacteria but ‘wipe out enzymes!’” (434).

Bryson is very insightful and emphatic in his arguments about the alluring thought of a reward, the necessity to create an anxiety in the consumer, and the conclusive “scientific studies”. Take, for example, any product you can find on a late-night television infomercial. One of the most effective advertisements is the commercial for the ShamWow. Like all the products found on the infomercials, the ShamWow “comes at an UNBEATABLE offer, call now and get not one, but TWO ShamWows for the price of one!” The company does a very effective job at pulling in the viewer with this line, sometimes you can get even more products like books and containers if you call quick enough. The announcer does a great job at creating the anxiety by asking, “Does your car always have unsightly water spots? Do your friends ask you when the last time you cleaned your car? Fear no more! The ShamWow will WOW your friends and family!” This causes the viewer to become embarrassed if their vehicle has water spots on it, leading them to want to purchase the ShamWow so they can dry their car before the sun bakes on the water spots. Lastly, and most effectively, the company includes an exaggerated quality by stating that the ShamWow “holds 12x its weight” to get the consumer to think that they do some kind of study. If you pause in your daily life and take a step by and analyze all the commercials and advertisements that you are bombarded with every day, you will begin to notice the advertising schemes employed by the companies. Bryson’s advice still holds its weight in gold, much like the ShamWow does with water, today. Consumers are tricked into think they need products that they have no use for and can get at a cheaper price.


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