The Persuaders Reflection

A Journalism 225 blog post

What did I learn?

The Documentary “The Persuaders” is full of interesting stories and facts about what professionals do when they are trying to sell their product. In order for a company to sell something, the consumer must be convinced that it will benefit them or they will not buy the product.

Specifically, I was intrigued by the on-code and off-code technique. Different demographics can view something as simple as cheese differently solely based on their culture. Because of this, the way you market to different people will effect the sales of that product.

If you are on-code, you are talking the right language to the correct group. While off-code is using the wrong language to the group you want to target.

Are there any real life examples?

I am a country girl. I grew up in the country, worked on a ranch and still drive a truck. Needless to say, my family is automatically drawn to trucks for their durability and usability.

A recent Ford Motor Co. commercial for the Ford 150 Super Duty does a wonderful job of using the on-code language for the people who will most likely buy their trucks. Here is a list of a few words and phrases that are used to reach a specific audience and peak their interest in the product.

  • Horse power
  • Towing
  • Tough
  • Don’t you want to be first?
  • First in class

How do you ethically persuade someone?

Is using key words to persuade people manipulation? Many people believe that the mind games marketers play are unethical because it is forcing the consumer to buy a product.

As a Christian in the field of marketing, does it go against Christian beliefs to use these techniques?

I believe the answer is no.

Every person is going to buy things that they either need or like. Why would you market to someone that would never buy your brand?

If you are truthful about your brand, I believe there is nothing ethically wrong with using persuasive techniques when marketing.

Where is our loyalty?

The problem does not just lie with the producer; it also lies with the consumer.

I know people that swear by Ford with no thought out reason. I also know people that will only drive Dodge Ram trucks. Just like any brand, it can become such a religious following that the brand becomes an idol in their life.

Yet, as Christians we know that we are to serve the Lord Jesus with everything that we have which can be found in the Greatest Commandment.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37–39 says.

There is nothing wrong with having a favorite brand but it becomes a problem when our love for that brand exceeds our love for Jesus.

What should we take away?

In “The Persuaders” documentary, Frank Luntz gives an example about fire to explain how easy it can be to create an ethical dilemma.

The examples goes like this. Fire can either warm a house up, or it can burn it to the ground. There must be a proper use of fire.

For the marketer, it is important to ask yourself if you are being truthful with your persuasion techniques. It is also important to ask if you are putting your brand above all else.

For a Christian consumer, all we have to do is ask ourselves if we care more about a brand then we do about our relationship with Jesus.

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it may be necessary to get rid of that brand or change bad habits until God is first in our mind, heart and soul.

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

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