Influence & Persuasion: Crash Course Media Literacy #6
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Influence & Persuasion: Crash Course Media Literacy #6


Let’s play a little game of “name that
tune.” I’m going to start singing a tune, and I want
you see if you can finish it without me. Ok here it goes: “Ba da ba ba ba…” What about, “I am stuck on Band Aid Brand….” Did you hear that in the little kids’ voice?
That’s a cute one. OK last one: “Gimme a break, gimme a break.” C’mon you had to know that one. If you didn’t finish at least one of those
on your own, I’d be shocked. These little songs advertisers use in commercials are
called jingles, and you know these popular ones because
they were written specifically to get stuck in your head. Catchy tunes are just one technique advertisers
use to get you to remember them and, hopefully,
buy their stuff. For years psychologists and sociologists have
studied why humans buy things, and brands use that
research to hack our brains and open our wallets. By applying the skills we’ve learned so far, we
can protect ourselves from buying yet another fancy
frappuccino off the not-so-secret secret menu. Today we’re going to un-hack your brain
on advertising. [Theme Music] First things first: let’s define advertising and its
close cousins, public relations and propaganda. An advertisement is a public notice promoting
a product, event, or service. Advertising is the art of creating those. Sometimes brands create ads themselves, and
sometimes they hire companies to do it for them. Yes, just like the people from Mad Men. Public relations, or PR, is something different. PR is the management of the relationship between
the public (that’s you) and a brand. PR tells the public what the brand is up to
and tries to make the brand look as good as possible. They’re the people who write the apology
when someone makes a mistake or build the
hype around the latest iPhone release. Finally, propaganda is information distributed
with the direct purpose of promoting a certain
point of view. This info is often misleading or biased, and
propaganda is usually used to promote specific
political viewpoints. These definitions may seem tidy, but the differences
between these fields can be really hard to distinguish
out in the real world, especially online. Don’t worry, we’ll talk a lot more about
propaganda later in the course. Last time on Crash Course Media Literacy,
we learned that all media is constructed. Creators make choices each step of the way,
from their work’s purpose and focus to the
point of view they use to tell their story. Advertisements work the same way, from the
split-second ad you swipe through before watching
your friends’ stories to elaborate movie trailers that get as
much hype as the movie itself. On top of that, ads are created using a century’s
worth of market research: experiments carried out
to discover what makes us want to buy things. Advertisers use that knowledge to tap into our
desires, often exploiting our most basic needs – not only the food and shelter kind,
but the love and belonging kind, too. One of the pioneers of this somewhat sinister
art was Edward Bernays. Working in the 1920s and ‘30s, he wrote: “The human being—male or female—is a
herd animal. Man is fearful of solitude…He is more sensitive to
the voice of the herd than to any other influence.” That’s from his 1923 book Crystallizing
Public Opinion, which became a classic in
the public relations field. It detailed how humans can be persuaded to change
their habits if it will help them to follow the crowd. Think back to middle school. What was that one trend that everyone had
to follow, or you totally felt left out? Friendship bracelets, the latest pair of Jordans, a fidget
spinner, one of those little electronic keychain pets –
seriously what was the deal with those things? Chances are you or your friends bought them because
everyone else had one – you wanted to fit in. Advertisements love to play on this need,
and that’s how trends and fads happen in
the first place. In the 1940’s, psychologist Abraham Maslow
added another piece to this puzzle. He identified a hierarchy of needs he said
all humans had. It’s set up like a pyramid. At the base, the foundation, all humans need
food and water, shelter, and sleep. Just above that, they need to feel safe, too. Then comes the need for love and feeling like
you belong somewhere. After that, we need to feel accomplished,
like we matter. At the tippy top of the pyramid is the need
to fulfill our destiny, to be our best selves. Now all of these needs, combined with our
natural desire to follow the crowd, are like little
buttons on our hearts and brains. Advertisements press different combinations of
buttons in hopes that we’ll respond the right way. Usually that means buying their product. The sales pitch of most modern ads is that
product X will satisfy your need for Y. For example, security systems promise one
of our most basic instincts: safety. We want to be safe, so we buy alarms to keep
out the bad guys. And Slim Jims? They promise food –
of a sort. Down at the bottom of the pyramid. But some products claim to satisfy multiple
needs higher up on that pyramid. Let’s head into the Thought Bubble to take
a closer look. Check out this vintage ad for hair dye. It features L’Oreal’s iconic slogan “Because
you’re worth it.” They’ve used this slogan more or less since
1971. In this ad, it’s used with the claim that
this dye is the most expensive in the country. Usually, that’s not a great way to sell
a lot of anything. But the slogan “because you’re worth it”
presses a lot of our human need buttons. For starters, any advertisement for hair dye
implies that natural hair color is boring. So, for other people to like us, to stick with the herd,
our hair has to be a different, better color. But still a pretty normal, human-y color,
so we don’t stick out from the herd. That’s the button for feeling loved and
like we belong. But there’s also that need for accomplishment,
like we matter. We’re worth it. The ad is saying, you’re hot. You’re the best.
You deserve this product. You deserve the most expensive dye, even though
it’s luxury. Nay, BECAUSE it’s luxury. Not only is this ad an appeal to stick with
the herd, to blend in with beauty norms, but
it’s also an appeal to individualism. It’s an appeal to that middle of the pyramid
and the tippy top, the desire to become our best
selves and rise above the rest of the herd. It’s genius, really. If you’ve ever screamed TREAT YOSELF while
splurging on a pair of designer shoes after a long
day, you’ve fallen into this ad trap. Thanks for the help, Thought Bubble. Once an advertiser knows which “need button” to
press, they need to persuade you that it will work. Turns out that there are a few things that
really persuade us. The first is authority: if we think the person
talking is an expert, we’re likely to believe them. Like in those “5 out of 5 dentists recommend”
toothpaste commercials. Dentists know teeth, right? The next is likeability: if we like them,
are friends with them, or trust them, we’re
also likely to listen. That’s why brands use extremely popular and
respected celebrities, like, say, Leonardo DiCaprio
and Kate Winslet, to sell watches or perfume. Same with consistency: if what’s being said
vibes with what we already believe, we’ll probably
go along with it. If everything you’ve ever heard about this new true crime
podcast says its great and thrilling and awesome, you probably wouldn’t believe your
coworker’s negative review of it. If there’s a consensus around something, if it’s
popular, we are easily swayed to think it’s good, too. And if we think it’s a scarce resource and we
could have a piece of it, it’s even more attractive. So, if everyone else had an iPhone and you
didn’t, you’d probably really want one. And if a limited edition version came out
that was signed by Beyonce you’d want that one even more. Advertisers often use these persuasive
qualities in benign ways to get us to buy one brand
of chocolate over another or something. But they can also be used against us by being
baked into false claims. They’re not lying, exactly, but making claims
based on poor or misleading logic. One popular type of fallacy in advertising
is an appeal to emotions. This is when an ad convinces you to take action
by tugging at your heartstrings. Those sad sick dog commercials with the Sarah
McLachlan song? That’s an appeal to emotions. Just because sick dogs make you sad doesn’t
automatically mean an organization deserves a
donation; it just makes you link the two together. (I mean, please still save the sick dogs,
this is just an example folks.) Then there’s the false dilemma, where an
ad shows you a limited number of choices so
you won’t consider all of the options. Laundry detergent ads for example, seem to
always go “head to head” with another brand – but only one other brand, even though
there are dozens. Another popular one is the red herring, the
presentation of something totally irrelevant to
distract you from the issue at hand. This happens in politics all the time. Ever seen a TV campaign ad during a
local election that shouted something
totally unrelated at you? Like, “Don’t elect Dan, his daughter eats
CEREAL!” And suddenly you’re wondering what’s wrong
with cereal until you forget that cereal has nothing
to do with politics. Then there’s traditional wisdom, the idea that
you should pick something because that’s how your
grandmom or your old man used to do it. But your old man used a record player because there
wasn’t any other option, not because he wanted to lug
around a crate full of vinyl to every single party. All of these fallacies and persuasive techniques
can be used for good and for evil and in between. Public service campaigns can get kids to stop
smoking or invest in local journalism. But on the other hand, cosmetics ads can harm
teens’ body images, causing eating disorders and
depression. The better psychologists and sociologists
get at persuading the human brain – even if their intentions are good – the better
bad actors get at it, too. All the more reason to stretch your media
literacy muscles. Today we talked about how advertisements can
make you change your mind. Next time on Crash Course Media Literacy we’re
going to tell you when and where they’re doing it. We’re going to talk all about those creepy
targeted ads that follow you around the internet
and much, much more. See you next time.
Until then, I’m Jay Smooth. Crash Course Media Literacy is filmed in the
Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT. It’s made with the help of all of these nice people,
and our animation team is Thought Cafe. Crash Course is a Complexly production. If you want to imagining the world complexly
with us, check out some of our other channels like
Eons, Animal Wonders, and SciShow Psych. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for
everyone, forever, you can support the series
at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows
you to support the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making
Crash Course possible with their continued support.

100 thoughts on “Influence & Persuasion: Crash Course Media Literacy #6

  1. Great video, I've wanted to see someone do this for a long time. We're so easily manipulated, and knowledge free's you from it. With this knowledge, you no longer get sucked into these ads, and can see through the lies and are richer for it, because you're not buying a lot of useless crap you never needed. 😀

  2. Another wonderful episode. I'm going to remember a lot of what I learned here the next time I'm watching TV and a commercial comes on.

  3. "Clothes! TREAT YOSELF Fragrances! TREAT YOSELF Massages! TREAT YOSELF Mimosas! TREAT YOSELF Fine leather goods! TREAT YOSELF

  4. Youtube is GLOBAL. As is your audience. I know this is a shock but there is more to the globe than the USA. I'm a patrion. I love the courses but it annoys me when they are so geocentric.

  5. I'm from Russia , why you didn't include the video of the Russian revolution of 1917 and the video is about the Soviet Union , there is a lot of information ?

  6. Whoaaaaa, hey, "treat yourself" isn't falling for an advertising trap. Treating yourself genuinely feels good, regardless of ads. The ads make you think that something IS treating yourself when otherwise, perhaps it might not be for you. If shoes bring you joy, go get some shoes!

  7. Who is Aubrey Nogle? The writer of this course, couldn't find any information of him/her (?) on the internet.
    Jay is a great host but the script is equally splendid.

  8. I love commercial jingles. My family quotes them all the time, especially ones from local businesses. Those are the best because of limited budget, stilted acting, and they're not afraid to go wayyyy out there to get attention.

  9. Mostly commentary; very little science. E.g., Maslow's hierarchy has very weak empirical support, especially for predictiveness.

  10. If you're from another country and didn't get the jingles, that still makes the point. You weren't subjected to those specific jingles so much that completing them becomes a reflex. It demonstrates their effectiveness. As importantly, you can imagine jingles from your own country that you can autocomplete. You know what he's talking about.

  11. I like how you're using philosophical descriptions of certain types of ads. Calling it a type of fallacy promotes critical thinking.

  12. Sure there are dozens of laundry detergent brands. But there are what, three companies that own all of them? They really are different, though, having tried quite a few.

    Nope, don't want an iPhone, wouldn't pay money for a "signed" one.

    Never bought designer anything, except for a hard drive where Porsche wasn't a thing I even noticed until later.

  13. 𝐋𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐖𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠

    also little-er sister is watching

  14. Honestly, I'm always bothered by this implied need to "belong." Maybe I'm just weird, but to me that's always been a turn-off, or at least a red flag. Whenever it becomes obvious that someone's trying push "belonging," it always makes me stop and look for hidden agendas. What do you want me to look past for the sake of "belonging?" What are you not telling me? Because if you're trying to sell me on an idea for anything OTHER than its empirical merits, then I have to assume that those empirical merits wouldn't be enough or at least wouldn't be convincing. In essence, you're trying to sell me on something you're pretty sure I don't actually like, want or agree with.

    Maybe I'm just weird, but I don't need or really want social reinforcement to form my own sense of self-worth. I don't need or want to be told that I'm special or unique. If I am, that'll pan out in practice. If I'm not, then oh well – not everyone can BE special. And besides, the old cliché of "be yourself" is the easiest way to be unique. In a homogenised pop culture where everyone behaves by the norms, any aberration is immediately unique, memorable and noteworthy.

  15. Hello crash course love from india 😘😘😘😍😍😍
    And please do a MATHEMATICS crash course

  16. In Latin America Politician powers play a rol to promote voters against others, the right or conservaties parties create emotional appeals by middle of Venezuela situation. Emotional appeal really sucks

  17. If i'm forced to sit through an advertisement I boycott the product purely out of spite. If I need something I'll buy it simple.

  18. How many people didn't get the give me a break one, I'm sorry I wasn't paying attention to kit kat ads in the 90's.

  19. I didn't know the last two, just the first 'jingle'. But funnily enough, when I want a burger, I'm much more likely to go to my local kebab and burger shop, Burger King or KFC (all of which lack that Justin Timberlake jingle) than McDonalds because…well, the burgers are significantly nicer. So maybe there is some room for improvement? It's no use reminding people that a brand exists if they end up using this reminder to buy from a competitor.

  20. Tom & Donna! This is the first time I can remember the internet being referred to as the real world. And please still save the sick dogs.

  21. This is such a great Crash Course series so far! Jay Smooth is such a personable host!

    I would love to see an episode on dominant ideologies portrayed in the media, and how those dominant ideologies may lead to real social consequences, including racism, sexism, classism, etc. This could probably reference Leslie Grinner's SCWAMP framework.

    Also, I would love to discuss what responsibility the media should have for the messages they create, and how the public could hold the media accountable.
    Thoughts?

  22. You have an audience that is wider than the US. You shouldn't be surprised that a large proportion of viewers does not recognize any of the jingles in the beginning of the video.

  23. This is the second video of this series that did not appear on my subscriptions page, Despite the active notification bell. Something's up…

  24. Great and very informative video! Would like to point out that the line stating that advertising for cosmetics can "cause" eating disorders and depression seems incredibly simplistic and misleading. They can be contributing factors, yes, but it is particularly harmful to claim that advertising is a direct cause of eating disorders. This has long-been dismissed and genetic factors are considered to be much more important.

  25. Love how there was a Big Brother poster in one of the animation scenes. I always think about 1984 while watching this series.

  26. I must have an abnormal brain. Often when presented with a consensus viewpoint (eg "everyone has an iPhone" or "every family owns a car") I think to myself, "I have a better solution."

  27. I saw an example of "using crappy logic to get you to buy something" just the other day. Somebody went through how ridiculously difficult it is to make a weighted blanket (used by autistic folks etc.). The most ridiculous point they made was about cost.

    See, in the real world, the monetary cost of making something yourself = the cost of materials. That's not how they put it. They asked you to imagine yourself paying $15 an hour to make it, driving the cost up past $100. Therefore, it was reasonable to… buy a weighted blanket from the author. The whole damn article was a cleverly-concealed advertisement.

    Unless you decided to make a weighted blanket by taking time off work (where you were apparently paid $15 an hour) to make the whole thing, the cost does not add up. If your cost of materials is more like $30, then congratulations, you have over $70 left that you can spend on other things, like food and rent.

    This sort of thing especially drives me nuts when it's a medical thing that many people have trouble affording. These blankets can make a huge difference for autistic people like myself, but they are expensive as balls, especially for adult sizes. That someone would take advantage of people's desperation disgusts me.

    (Note: making such a thing is definitely not for everyone. What angers me is that the article tried to turn people away from making their own, even if they might be perfectly capable of making it.)

  28. tech deck was super popular when i was in middle school. i just had to have one, and i persuaded my grandmother to buy me one. i never use it now

  29. Love the vids, but why does the Kate Winslet cartoon always look like she is in a straight-jacket? Can't stop seeing it!

  30. On point. This reminded me of our class discussions, even made me understand more because of the relevant examples.

  31. They say a man should always dress for the job he wants, so why am I dressed up like a pirate in this restaurant?

  32. the first one was actually mcdonalds i am loving it so you were off with your own ad

    thx for this awesomely ha bisky vid still and luckily ads dont work i havent been to a mc donalds in ever and i have been trying to boycott it since i was 4 if not younger (that got me yelled at several times)

  33. Crash Course — because you deserve to know!
    Watch Crash Course so you can be smarter than the neighbours!
    I know that because I watched it on Crash Course!

    ok ok i'll let the experts come up with the slogans.

  34. CHECK SHIRTS,,There's a subliminal marketing message,I feel the need to wear a CHECK SHIRT,.it will give me the Mr Smooth deep dulcet tone,his voice has.Makeing me more attractive to women and improve my life…

  35. 1:04 when he said “today we’re going to un-hack your brain on advertising” and the familiar melody of the theme song ironically appeared, i realized that this was an advertising as well

  36. 0:30 I think I finished the first one but I'm not sure. And you're shocked that there are people living outside of the united states?

  37. I used to love videogames a lot more but nowadays many of them use those limited time events that I began to hate after a while because of that addictive feeling that I need to get a scarce thing which followed by spending a lot of time on getting it. That's why today I usually prefer a single player PC videogame over an mmo. That's why I don't even look at mobile gaming anymore.

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