Response Blog to “The Persuaders”

Applying a Christian worldview

Understanding the atmosphere

“The Persuaders” is an interesting documentary on the modern strategies and tactics used to sell products and services. The film opened my eyes to the ways that I am surrounded by advertising messages that I rarely even notice anymore. Our culture is inundated with advertisements of all kinds every moment of the day.

My wife and I recently spent a weekend in New York City with her family. When we arrived, it was impossible to miss the bright array of advertisements flashing across every surface imaginable. I was amazed at how much these ads had faded into my periphery by the time we left, but I was still subconsciously absorbing the messages.

There are several quotes in “The Persuaders” that speak to this psychological phenomenon.

  • “Consumers are like roaches. You spray them and spray them, and after a while, it doesn’t work anymore. We develop immunities.”
  • “What advertising has always wanted to do is not simply to suffuse the atmosphere but to become the atmosphere. It wants us not to be able to find a way outside of the world that it creates for us.”
  • “Marketers find a way so deep inside us that it no longer feels like persuasion at all. Maybe we are in control. Once the market becomes the lens through which we see the world, then there’s no ‘us’ and ‘them’ anymore. We’re all persuaders.”

What does it all mean?

The most telling part of the documentary is in the final minutes of the film. The narrator is drawing conclusions from the research presented and makes the statement, “The secret of all persuasion is to induce the person to persuade himself.” This quote hit me in a way that none of the previous content in the film had.

Have I been duped? Has the world of advertising I live in tricked me into selling products, that I don’t really need, to myself? These questions have inspired me to examine my behavior

A Christian worldview

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe that it is my responsibility to be “in the world but not of it” as Jesus said in John 17:16. Has the constant onslaught of advertising in modern culture taught me to let the world around me determine my desires, needs and goals? I do not want to waste the time, financial resources and relationships that God has given me in a grand attempt to wear the best brands, drive the right car and present myself in a certain way.

So what can I do to ensure that I am not giving my thoughts over to the advertisers, the persuaders of our day? I think Proverbs 14:15 reveals the first step. “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.”

It is so easy, in our world built of advertisements, to believe every message that is presented in a clear manner. However, it is apparent that the word of God calls us to be aware and discerning. We are not to be sold to Apple, Nike or Kate Spade.

I choose to be a prudent man. My God given resources will not be sold to the most convincing bidder. My identity rests in Jesus Christ, therefore I do not need to succumb to the persuasive messages that attempt to create desires in me, and disguise those desires as needs.

Taking it to work

As a follower of Christ preparing to work in the field of communication and persuasion, I think it is important to take responsibility for each and every message we send out. The Apostle Paul taught in Romans 14 that we ought not cause our brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble. Therefore, I believe that it would be wrong for a follower of Jesus to develop an advertising campaign encouraging the use of debt, the worship of a brand, or any kind of immoral actions.

This is a weighty responsibility, but an honor to carry as well. There are many ways God can use us in the field of persuasion. He will prepare the way, and we need to choose to do our best to honor him with the tasks he sets before us. (703 words)

On my honor, I have watched The Persuaders in its entirety.

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