Professor Van Epps
21 February, 2012
Essure: Advocate For Strong Mothers or Polished Scam?
An advertisement is tailored to target a specific audience and many techniques such as color usage, word usage, and other specific propaganda techniques are used to evoke emotions and persuade their audience to purchase specific products, as is seen here. The topic of this advertisement is Essure, a surgery-free, permanent birth control insert. The ad features a young mother and her family having a pillow fight in their home. To the untrained eye, this ad appears to be very concerned about the average mother's needs, and many would feel that they find they can easily relate to the ad and the simple message that those that are advocating for Essure are trying to convey. Unfortunately, those in the advertisement industry carefully tailor every image in the media to brainwash and manipulate viewers by using their own joys and fears, worries, concerns and guilty longings, interests and hobbies (the list continues) to help create a false sense of security about the company, empathy with the subjects of the ad, and relation to a product that may or may not necessarily identify with the viewer. This technique of deception has been used since the very beginning of the advertisement industry and every day those techniques become more advanced and harder to identify. With this new and savvy advertising world, viewers must learn to become more aware of what they are viewing and much more vigilant to the signs of deception and mind control.
Firstly, there are many details in the appearance of this advertisement that the reader should be aware of, and also the reader should take note of specific "weasel words" that are used in the ad to subliminally deliver messages to its audience. The advertisement is attempting to sell a permanent birth control insert by the name of Essure. The photograph is displaying a mother, her significant other and what appear to be their two children having a pillow fight in the living room of their home. The family is happy, which is clearly indicated by their smiling faces and positive body language. There is little color usage in the photograph of the ad, and the color that does appear seems to be strategically placed. The pillow the mother is using is bright pink, varying greatly from the other white pillows in the room. The walls, the family's clothing and also the furniture are white, giving the ad a soft, non threatening appearance that doesn't distract the viewer from the product that the ad is attempting to sell. The ad finishes with a small description of the product, its benefits, and a few strategically placed weasel words and phrases that should alarm the viewer to think more seriously about the product's credibility. The ad claims that "more than half a million women trust Essure as their permanent birth control". Considering that the population in the United States alone is in the billions, the utilization of the product in question by a half of a million women is not entirely impressive. The article also fails to state where these 500,000+ women reside, nor does it include how long the product has been on the market or how many women have disliked the product. The article claims that based on four years of clinical study, Essure is the most effective permanent birth control available. Unfortunately, no elaboration is made as to what kind of clinical study was done or how many people (if any) were studied. The phrase also fails to state the performance levels of other permanent birth controls to use as comparison. The significance in these "weasel words" is that they raise questions about the advertisement's credibility and should alarm the viewer to use caution when thinking about the ad's claims.
In addition, the target, purpose, appeal and implications of the ad can all be determined by the many subliminal messages hidden carefully in the subjects of the photo and their body language, the color usage throughout the ad, and the words attached to the ad itself. The average American family has two children, which helps the viewer identify with the subjects in the photo and enables the viewer to easily view this photo as comparable to their own life or the life of someone that they know. This suggests that the ad is not only designed for mothers who are not looking to have any more children, but also to women that can relate to the situation. The actions of the subjects also manage to convey further messages. The pillow fight seems to suggest that although having children is joyous, it can also be a struggle for a mother to overcome. It seems to convey that mothers with multiple children struggle to maintain control of the children that they already have and it attempts to convey the message that a mother needs to take control of her life and her children, as is shown in the playful struggle for dominance that the mother is displaying in the photo. The use of color in the advertisement suggests many more things to the audience that they, as viewers, may not be aware of but are affected by just the same. The photograph is, in majority, neutral-looking, with small, strategically placed splashes of bright colors. The entire family is dressed in white, which suggests that the members of the family as individuals are not important and should be viewed as a complete and whole unit. The couch, pillows, walls and bookshelf are also white, which helps the family somewhat blend into the background, showing unity between the family and their home. Small splashes of blue are used to highlight personal objects in the background of the living room which personalizes the environment and makes it unique to the family. The pillow the mother is holding above her head is bright pink, although every other pillow in the photo is white, with the phrase "being done" labeled across it, suggesting the significance of the pillow and what the mother is doing. It appears that the mother has finally decided to take control of the pillow fight and is using the pink pillow to dominate the situation. The color pink is also very similar to the color used for the product logo, suggesting that Essure is the obvious way that this mother will take control of her situation.
Using caution, one must take note of the clearly visible usages of four different propaganda techniques in this article that are utilized to make this product more appealing to its target audience. The propaganda techniques being utilized in this specific ad are as follows: the "plain folks" technique, the "card stacking" technique, the "bandwagon" technique, and the "faulty cause and effect" technique, all of which are extremely successful when combined to evoke emotions from potential Essure customers. The "plain folks" technique is used in the photograph of the advertisement. The subjects in the photo are portrayed as an average small family, and this message is made successful through many different aspects of the photograph. The family is dressed all in white, which is the color of innocence, and is a neutral color that unifies the family as a unit. The decorations in the living room of the photo are simple and humble but do not appear to be ragged nor worn out. This implies that the family is neither poor nor rich, and suggests that this is a middle class family (which is the majority of the families in this country). These messages are not obvious, but they manage to attract average mothers from average families and enable them to relate to the advertisement. The "card stacking" technique is used in the actual message in the bottom of the advertisement. The ad lists many positive effects and conveniences attributed to the product but mentions very little side effects or dangers. The ad also implies (in much smaller writing) that to see a complete list of negative side effects attributed to the product, one must visit the product's website. This technique is used to create a positive, memorable impression of the product without actually mentioning or denying the down-sides to the drug. The "bandwagon" technique is utilized through the appearance and messages throughout the entire advertisement. The ad insinuates that average mothers will one day need to stop having more children and focus on the ones that they have, lest running the risk of losing control of their families. It implies that since other mothers use Essure, the viewer must too in order to avoid losing that control. The "faulty cause and effect" technique is used through the implication that, without Essure, one may become a bad mother to her existing children, and if another product was used instead, they would become less successful mothers than those using Essure. Essure does this by implying that no other permanent birth control will provide the amount of security and control that their product can provide.
In conclusion, advertisement techniques use various methods of mind control through color usage, word usage, and propaganda techniques that evoke emotions from viewers and persuade them to purchase a specific product. The advertisement industry is becoming more successful at their job every day, and as viewers of these advertisements, society needs to become more aware of these techniques to avoid being emotionally and financially manipulated. The advertisement being described in this essay is a campaign launched to attract middle-class mothers of small families to use Essure (a permanent birth control insert) by appealing to their need to be there for their families, their struggle for control and balance, and their want to be healthy, strong and respected individuals. As the target audience, women need to become more vigilant, as unfortunately suspicion has become necessary in this world of manipulation and deception. The ad itself is not necessarily untrue, but it is safe to say that the ad is much too vague for a decision of purchase to be made solely on its message alone. Many facts need to be determined before a smart choice can actually be made, and to make the best decision, one must fight the urge to become emotionally effected by the ad's message.