Conned Into an Emotional Connection

We often have an emotional connection to the things that aren't serving us. This makes it difficult for us to let them go. We feel guilty that we can't do what seems like a simple thing to make our lives better. But it helps to see that our emotional connection is not our fault. In many cases, advertising has conned us to link an emotional need to their products.

I saw an interesting video about the origination of connecting an object with an emotion to sell it. It talked about how in the 1920's, the President of the American Tobacco Corporation hired a marketer to break the taboo against women smoking.

During a big parade in New York, the marketer arranged to have a group of wealthy debutante women light up cigarettes. The marketer then informed the press that a group of suffragettes (women who protested for the rights of women to vote) were going to protest by lighting up "torches of freedom." The marketer knew this would end up in the papers, (actual headline "Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as A Gesture of Freedom") and this would inspire women across the country to support their voting rights cause by smoking. It worked, sales of cigarettes to women rose dramatically.

The video said, "It was possible to persuade people to behave irrationally if you link products to their emotional desires and feelings...the idea that smoking actually made women freer was completely irrational, but it made them feel more independent...It meant that irrelevant objects could become powerful emotional symbols."

It's important to see this process in action. It's insidious because it's subtle and we don't notice that we've been tricked. Marketers spend millions of dollars researching how the human mind works, and then creatively uses that information to manipulate us into thinking we have a natural need towards their products.

We suffer when we live with things that don't serve us. It hurts us to try and force our life into something that doesn't fit out life. We break the bonds to living this way, by asking, "Is this actually serving me?", "Do I love this thing?" "Is this making a positive difference in my life now?" And then trusting our response. Not what marketing tells us how we should feel, but how we actually feel. That is true freedom.