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Andres Aullet


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Should we teach our kids about how advertisement (public relationships, marketing) works?

Let's face it, advertisement works.

But let's also admit it, it is not as simple as a creative ad shown during the superbowl or a picture on a magazine that we find funny and incidentally reminds us of some particular brand of chips, or insurance company.

As far as i know (admittedly a much more thorough research can be done), advertisement works because it exploits a few flaws in the way our subconscious work:

- we remember things best when emotion is evoked while we learn them (fear, anger, excitement). And this is due to the chemical changes that these emotions induce in our brain.

- we decide mostly with emotions, and not with reason. This seems counter intuitive to most people

- we live with the ever present contradiction of trying to be unique and trying to be like others. We like to be singled out if we are wearing nice clothing, but we hate being singled out if our pants happen to rip.

- being rejected by our peers, or not being part of the in-group we admire, actually hurts, pretty much in the same way (neurologically) as a punch in the stomach hurts

- anything repeated frequently makes a stronger memory, easier to recall, and a memory that is easier to recall is trusted more (and feels more familiar) regardless of it's veracity

- novel experiences are considered riskier than familiar experiences, regardless of their real inherent risk

So all these factors are merged with a product and tweaked to make that product appealing and familiar to us, without us fully understanding why it feels appealing and familiar.

Now, recently the target of the advertising industry are increasingly younger kids. And I would venture to say that if many adults don't fully understand why advertisement works, then even less kids would be expected to know

Should we include in a kids education: at schools, in church sermons, at dinner table conversations, an explanation of what advertisement is and why it works? What would be an argument against teaching this?


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  • Nov 10 2012: No, as it's a wast of time. If to young will not understand and if older will ignore you. You must lead by your actions to the advertisements. If you are any kind of good parent your children will pick up on your actions and incorporate them in their own way into their own.
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      Nov 14 2012: Hi Walter,

      I would be curious to know why do you consider it a waste of time. There are plenty of things that kids learn at school (from geometry to basic chemistry, to geography) and i would argue that they don't throw all that knowledge away

      Absolutely true that parents teach with example more than anything, but there are parents who cannot spend a lot of time time teaching, or simply lack the knowledge or skills required to teach something like how the brain works

      I remember things i learned both from my parents and from school as i was growing up, I am not sure i would consider that a waste of time, but i would like to understand your point of view


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