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Are You a Sucker For Advertising?


Call it what you want, but advertising usually leads to discontentment. Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle made a funny and true statement about advertising:

Advertising exists to create in you a sense of discontentedness. Things you didn’t even know you needed. And the truth is you don’t really need them. Have you just watched a car commercial lately? “Oh, it’s a new car. I have an old car. My car does not have all of those speakers. Those are amazing. Oh! Heated seats. I—oh. My bum is cold. I don’t have heated seats. I need heated seats.” All of a sudden you’re discontented. “I need heated seats. I need one for my bum and one to warm a muffin on the way to work for my breakfast. That’s what I need, heated seats.”

Think about “window shopping”

If we’re honest, walking through the mall and window shopping often leads to thoughts like “I need that. I need that. I need two of those. I don’t even know what that is. I better go in and find out just in case I need it too.” Thankfully I don’t go to the mall unless I have the intent of buying something but even in these situations I find myself wanting a shirt in the display window that I didn’t even know existed five minutes earlier…but it’s on sale…

Think about TV shows

MTV’s “Cribs,” for example. I can tell you that I’ve never finished watching that show and thought about how much I love my 1999 Honda Accord and my Dell Inspiron I got in 2006. In between the show I see commercials for laptops that are only $[insert good deal here]. My Dell works well and I don’t need a new computer, but now that I know I can get a brand new one for not that much, I think I need it.

Think about food commercials

Don’t want to make dinner tonight? Even though you have plenty of food in your fridge, there’s no wait for a $5 Hot N’ Ready from Little Caesars! I don’t get how commercials with celebrities promoting food works but I’m sure Dr. Pepper got a boost in sales from using Dr. Dre or Fergie in their ad. Just last week my friend and I met up for lunch and as we were talking about where we should go a bus drove by with a giant Panera Bread ad on it. I enjoyed a wonderful “Pick Two” meal from Panera Bread that day. Suckered in by advertising once again.

Totally affordable. Plus you deserve it.

What gets me is how the pricing is made to look so affordable. A monthly payment of $200 sounds doable but is the car worth $40,000 after all the payments and interest? An extra $0.50 for a larger fountain drink doesn’t seem like much, but is it worth the extra 200 calories that can add up to 20 pounds in a year? Add the personal touch to advertisements and you’ve got a lot of people hooked. “Detroit, you deserve better” is a slogan I saw on a billboard aimed to get those driving by to open a checking account with their bank. Even the bible sitting on my kitchen table was purchased because of an advertisement! I was fine with the paperback version I got for free until I saw this black leather one that has a cute black and white flower design on it. If you take a look around your home, can you identify any purchases you made that were influenced by advertisements?

Are you a sucker for advertising? What advertisements have led you to purchase a product?

This has been a guest post from Jessica. She is a Registered Dietitian and shares practical, useful tips on food, fitness, and finance. Be sure to subscribe to her blog, Budget For Health.


AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.


  1. I wouldn’t say I am a sucker but I am influenced. Honestly though I try to evaluate the purchase as to whether it meets my goals rather.than how the advertising makes it look.

    • Asking “Why do I need this?” probably saves a lot of unecessary purchases from occuring. I’m glad to hear you check in with your goals before making a purchase.

  2. I’m often taken in by things I walk past, see on TV, or read about online, where I think ‘ Wow, how cool would THAT be. The thing that works for me most is simply walking away. What happens is that I simply forget about it. As quickly as the ‘Wow, look at that’ thought comes in, it vanishes. And I’m all the happier with what I have.

    • Walking away is a great tip! Even if you end up returning to buy the product at least you gave yourself time to think about why you want it. That can avoid a lot of spontaneous purchases.

  3. Unfortunately, I can definitely be a sucker for advertising sometimes. This is why I tend to avoid malls at all costs, don’t go grocery shopping while hungry, and fast forward through commercials when watching tv. I’ve noticed though that my newest temptations to shop hit while I’m browsing through Pinterest – I always find an outfit I’d like to have or a dessert I want to try.

    • aw man Pinterest is the best and worst thing ever. For every healthy meal posted there are about 3280 desserts…and I want all of them!

  4. I don’t window shop. I don’t think people are suckers for advertising just that they want to buy stuff in general. Its not that you need them. You simply want them or feel you deserve them. Heck you work 40-50 hrs per week those nice heated seats would be nice.

    Personally i could care less about this stuff and am happy with the 401k growing but thats me personally. Most of us don’t have the self control to look at too many things we want without getting something.

    • It’s great that you’ve got self control and weigh your decision to purchase something. Some people aren’t affected by advertisements but there’s got to be a large population that is or else it wouldn’t be bringing in so much profit to the companies!

  5. Sometimes, I can also be a sucker for advertising. There are times when I have bought a new electronic gadgets or a new pair of shoes that I don’t even need. I agree with you that watching advertisements will make you think that you NEED those products. That is why before purchasing an item, I usually ask myself: do I really need this, or do I just want it?

    • …and most of the time the answer is that we just want it. If we truly needed it, we wouldn’t even need an advertisement to tell us that.

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