Category: developers journal

Buying emotions at $19.95

Author: Daemon May 9, 2008

It’s time for my usual rant on on the world of marketing.
It is pretty obvious to me by now that most of the Design studios and Marketing agencies read some books and saw some documentaries on how to successfully sell products. Mister Edward Bernays, father of „public relations“, with support of Sigmund Freud gave an observation that people will respond better if you sell them emotions instead of direct products (watch the great BBC documentary, “The Century of Self“). Using this method, he soon started marketing campaigns that sold Love, Freedom, Happiness, related or not related to some underlying product. Long story short – people will buy new shoes because „when you buy this shoes you will feel great and in love and entire world will smile with you“, not because „they are made out of quality leather and rubber“.

Selling emotions is currently the drive of entire design & marketing world.

In the start this was all cool, because those few products were really sticking out. Soon others followed, as marketing agencies caught the idea.

What we have now, are two typical examples (in Croatia, but there is a parallel all over the world).

Example one:

Telecom, VIP. Telecoms have loads of cash that they constantly rotate in the marketing. All the European advertising spaces (billboards, TV commercials, newspapers, …) are flooded by telecom commercials. However they do not advertise the product or the product specs, they advertise emotions. VIP goes so far that their motto „All for you“ has nothing to do with telecom. On their homepage, there is no direct visual clue what they are about. Do they sell laptops?

One of my friends works for VIP, at sales for people, and he worked there since they started. His main issue is that nowadays people come into the sale point, and noone has a clue about options. Noone knows what plan options VIP offers, what phones are available inside those plans. Few years ago, while marketing revolved around selling product, not emotions, people came into the store, knew exactly what they want, bought stuff, and went out. Today, sales staff has to explain to every customer entire product range, since marketing is not communicating it. This leads to queues, too much workload being put onto staff, etc.


This is one of their billboards placed at very frequent locations in the city. It says “love”. What the hell are you selling there? I know that this is supposed to help raise “brand awareness” and “communicate” something, and all that marketing buzzwords that actually have no meaning, but this is pure nonsense if you ask me. What, people in love are turning their backs to me? Is that what you are saying? Are you selling antidepressants?


Example two:

This one is a winner, when i saw their TV commercial i decided to write this. Croatian company „Dalmacija cement“ joined with Cemex, they produce cement and concrete. It does not get any more straightforward, should i say solid, than this. However, their TV commercial, pity i cannot find it on YouTube, is about people driving from capital city to the remote areas of the Croatia, in order to visit grandparents and stay happily connected with them. Invisible punchline is that they drive over the bridges and other road building-blocks that are made with their cement. What the hell? There is no talk about endurance of this cement, or about any of the qualities that would lure potential big buyers.


The logical conclusion is that within 5-10 years, all that will be on the market will be emotions. You will not even be able to buy matches at your local corner store without having a feeling that by buying those matches you will feel like champion, like king of the world. It does not matter is that t-shirt made out of quality cotton, as long as i feel some emotion related to it.

And i will take you one step further. Here is my prediction what will happen soon after that. One of the big players (Nike, CocaCola, T-Com, Apple, whoever) will launch marketing campaign where they feature their main product, display what materials are used to produce that product, and emphasize the quality of those materials. Screw emotions, this product is made out of top quality leather. Brilliant! Revolutionary! I bet some marketing agency will collect great money for this “new” idea.


    7 thoughts on “Buying emotions at $19.95”

  • Oh yes „Dalmacija cement“ has really insance commercial on TV. I couldn’t believe what I am seeing or hearing. It’s a commercial for a concrete for God’s sake!

  • Hopefully you can watch this documentary if you ever have a free second

    talks about what you are referring to..the selling of emotions

    this is also cool

    Lovemarks:Lovemarks transcend brands. They deliver beyond your expectations of great performance. Like great brands, they sit on top of high levels of respect – but there the similarities end.

    Lovemarks reach your heart as well as your mind, creating an intimate, emotional connection that you just can’t live without. Ever.

    Take a brand away and people will find a replacement. Take a Lovemark away and people will protest its absence. Lovemarks are a relationship, not a mere transaction. You don’t just buy Lovemarks, you embrace them passionately. That’s why you never want to let go.

    Put simply, Lovemarks inspire

  • Good stuff Fred, thanks!

  • All cool and fine, but “Lovemarking” bag of cement is a bit dull.

  • well i seriously doubt people are going to get emotional over a brand of cement…unless its REALLY good ;)

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