What is the Blemishing Effect? Why Imperfections Aren’t Always Bad

Jen Clinehens
Choice Hacking
Published in
2 min readMar 28, 2024


🧠 What is the Blemishing Effect?

This psychological principle says that when we show a little negative information alongside the positive, we can make something seem more attractive.

Lots of brands use this effect to make themselves more lovable.

Just take Pringles who’s 2023 Super Bowl ad showed people getting their hands stuck at the bottom of its distinctive can:

Or VW’s classic example of the Blemishing Effect in action, the famous “Think Small” campaign (which could be seen as the inspiration for Mini’s triumphant U.S. launch).

Or Heinz ketchup’s advertising that focuses on how slow it is to come out of the bottle:

If you want to use the Blemishing Effect in your marketing and customer experience, start here:

  • ✅ Talk to and listen to your customers — is there a quirk in your product that they love to hate?
  • ✅ What are the small imperfections that make your product unique? (Don’t pick something that’s integral to how it works, like how Teslas *allegedly* have the tendency to catch fire)
  • ✅ Think about how you can dial up this quirk and present it alongside your product’s good attributes.

Want to learn more about how your buyers tick (using marketing psychology, behavioral science, and predictive AI)?

👉 We’ve worked with brands of all sizes, including T-mobile, McDonald’s, Adidas and Starbucks.

And when you’re ready, Choice Hacking can help you, too:



Jen Clinehens
Choice Hacking

ChoiceHackingIdeas.com // Brands win when they know what makes buyers tick (behavioral science, psychology, AI)