Introduction to Media Literacy: Persuasion Techniques

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This article was composed to fulfill my softskill assignment from Mr. Romel Noverino.

Advertising is regarding commercialism. By nature, advertising is neither neutral nor objective. Pleading its case through the strongest, most persuasive suggests that, advertising informs, entertains and sells. sometimes, it even evokes. If advertising is regarding commercialism, then persuasion is however we tend to get there.

Persuasion techniques divided into three levels: Basic, intermediate, and advanced.

Basic persuasion techniques

1. Association
This persuasion technique tries to link a product, service, or idea with something already liked or desired by the target audience, such as fun, pleasure, beauty, security, intimacy, success, wealth, etc.

BitTorent (file sharing website) billboard

2. Bandwagon
Show lots of people using the product, implying that "everyone is doing it" and that no one likes to be left behind. Urges us to "jump on board." (are you one of the million americans who use state farm).

Aqua commercial for Indonesia

3. Beautiful people
Uses good looking models or celebrities to attract our attention. Used to imply that if we use the product we will look like models.

David Beckham wears a rolex watch

4. Bribery
Tries to persuade us to buy a product by promising to give us something else. exs. discounts, rebate, coupon, or free gift. We don't really get something for free, part of the sales price covers the cost of the bribe.


5. Celebrities
Tend to pay attention to famous people. Ads often use celebrities to grab our attention. they speak, and endorse the product.

Cristiano Ronaldo in CLEAR for men commercial

6. Experts
We rely on experts to advise us about things that we don't know ourselves. exs. scientists, doctors, professors.

Oral-B ads use dentists to persuasive

7. Explicit claims
Specific, measurable promises about quality, effectiveness, or reliability. exs. "works in 5 minutes!" They can be proven true or false through close examination or testing. If false, advertiser can get in trouble.

Colgate ad promises that the product can kills 99.9% of bacteria.

8. Fear
Opposite of Transfer/Association technique. uses something disliked or feared by the intended audience. exs. bad breath, failure, high taxes, and terrorism. use fear to sell us products that claim to prevent or fix the problem.

9. Humor
Grabs our attention and its a powerful persuasion technique. When we laugh, we feel good. Advertisers make us laugh and then show us their product or logo because they are trying to connect that good feeling to their product.

"You're not you when you're hungry" campaign by snickers

10. Intensity
The language of ads includes superlatives (greatest, best, most, fastest, lowest prices), comparatives (more, better than, improved, increased, fewer calories), hyperbole (amazing, incredible, forever), exaggeration, and many other ways to hype the product.

11. Maybe
Outrageous claims are fin, in preceded by maybe, might, often, virtually, can, or could.


12. Plain folks
One of propaganda techniques that uses the approach used by a person to show that he was humble and empathy with general population/society.


13. Repetition
Use repetition in 2 ways, within and ad, or in the message itself. exs. words or sounds may be repeated through the ad to reinforce the main point. And the message itself may be displayed many times.


14. Testimonials
Media messages often show people testifying about the value or quality of a product. They can be experts, celebrities, or plain folks. Technique works best when it seems like the person "testifying" is doing so because they genuinely like the product or agree with the idea.

Sharpie ad promoted by famous football player David Beckham and used his testimonial.

15. Warm & fuzzy
Uses sentimental images to stimulate feelings of pleasure, comfort, and delight. Uses soothing music, pleasant voices, and words like "cozy" and "cuddly".

Jahe Merah product pledges warm conditions for it customers.

Intermediate persuasion techniques

16. The Big Lie
The Big Lie is more than  exaggeration or hype; it’s telling a complete falsehood with such confidence and charisma that people  believe it. Recognizing The Big Lierequires "thinking outside the box" of conventional wisdom and  asking the questions other people don’t ask.

mcdonalds commercial

17. Charisma
Sometimes, persuaders can be effective simply by appearing firm, bold, strong, and confident. This is particularly true in political and advocacy messages. People often follow charismatic leaders even when they disagree with their positions on issues that affect them.

mitt romney campaign ad

18. Euphemism
Euphemismtries to pacify audiences in order to make an  unpleasant reality more palatable.

19. Extrapolation
Persuaders sometimes draw huge conclusions on the basis of a few small facts. Extrapolationworks by ignoring complexity. It’s most persuasive when it predicts something we hope can or will be true.

20. Flattery
Persuaders love to flatter us.

21. Glittering generalities
A vague word or phrase used to evoke positive feelings rather than to convey information.

22. Name-calling
Name Calling is the use of derogatory language or words that carry a negative connotation when describing an enemy or opponent.

iphone 6 bending jokes

23. New
We love new things and new ideas, because we tend to believe they’re better than old  things and old ideas.

indomie new variant

24. Nostalgia
This is the opposite of the New technique.

Ada apa dengan cinta dan rangga 2014

25. Rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions are used to build trust and alignment  before the sales pitch.

26. Scientific evidence
This is a particular application of the Expert technique.

27. Simple solution
Life is complicated. People are complex. Problems often have many  causes, and they’re not easy to solve. These realities create anxiety for many of us. Persuaders offer  relief by ignoring complexity and proposing a Simple solution.

28. Slippery slope
A fallacy that assumes that taking a first step will lead to subsequent steps that cannot be prevented.

29. Symbols
Symbols are words or images that bring to mind some larger concept, usually one  with strong emotional content, such as home, family, nation, religion, gender, or lifestyle.

Advanced persuasion techniques

30. Ad hominem
Directed against a person rather than against his arguments.

31. Analogy
An analogy compares one situation with another.

32. Card stacking
Card stacking,  however, deliberately provides a false context to give a misleading impression.

33. Cause vs Correlation
While understanding true causes and true effects is important,  persuaders can fool us by intentionally confusing correlation with cause.

colgate brilliant advertisement

34. Denial
This technique is used to escape responsibility for something that is unpopular or  controversial. It can be either direct or indirect.

35. Diversion
Diversion seems to tackle a problem or issue, but then throws in an emotional non-sequitor or distraction.

x mild

36. Group dynamics
Group dynamics is a more intense version of the Majority belief and Bandwagon techniques.

37. Majority belief
This technique is similar to the Bandwagon technique.

38. Scapegoating
Scapegoating is a particularly dangerous form of the Simple solution technique.

39. Straw man
This technique builds up an illogical or deliberately damaged idea and presents it  as something that one’s opponent supports or represents. Knocking down the "straw man" is easier  than confronting the opponent directly.

40. Timing
Sometimes a media message is persuasive not because of what it says, but because  of when it’s delivered.