Handy-Dandy Guide to Propaganda Techniques
• Testimonials or Endorsements:
Using a popular figure to promote a cause. "Tiger Wood eats Wheaties. That's why
he so good at golf!"
You watch a crash dummy fly through the windshield of a car. Then you see some
that were buckled up in safety belts that still have their arms and legs. Hopefully
this will convince you to buckle up.
Creates the impression that you have to act fast. "Act now! Supplies are limited!
Everything must go! Order now and receive this free toaster oven!"
• Scientific Approach:
Using tests, statistics, and fake scientific sounding jargon to lend credibility to
something. "This chair is ergonomically designed for the best fit!"
• Emotional Language:
Using words to appeal to your senses or to fire up your emotions. "Terrorists
destroyed his home and brought his country to its knees. Now only one man can
save the planet: Rambo is back and he's taking no prisoners!"
Overstating the effectiveness or importance of a product. "Give us a week and we'll
take off the weight!"
Product names are repeated at least four times: 10-10-321. Just dial 10-10-321. 10-
10-321 saves you money...."
• Glittering Generalities:
Make the product appear or sound amazing without really providing concrete
evidence why this is the case. A good example is the drink Gatorade which asserts,
"Life is a sport, drink it up!" It sounds great, but exactly what does it mean?
Glittering generalities are sweet like cotton-candy, but without substance.
A kind of doublespeak where something bad is sanitized or twisted to seem better.
One president referred to raising taxes as "revenue enhancement" or a nuclear
headed missile which he called a "peace-keeper."
An easy way to create emotional responses in consumers. The advertiser takes
advantage of you by taking common well known symbols and using them to
promote their product. Hence a presidential ad might use a flag or the picture of
George Washington or Uncle Sam beside a candidate hoping that the viewer would
transfer warm feelings for the patriotic symbol to the politician.
• Plain Folks Appeal:
Advertisements that appeal to you by insisting that they are just like you and really
understand you. Presidential candidates routinely pose in ads playing with their
children, and their dogs and cats if only to convince you that they're just 'plain
folks' ...just like you.
This tactic assumes that people like to follow the crowd, acting and buying like the
majority. Most people want to be popular so advertisers portray their products with
this in mind. "Four out five people use Colgate Toothpaste." "Over 2 Billion Served
• Snob Appeal:
A play on our desire for fancy things and the "good life." Jewelry, expensive cars,
perfumes, designer clothing and accessories are often marketed using snob appeal.
• Something for Nothing
Everyone seeks a "good buy," or "something for nothing." Advertisers often
sweeten their offer by another inducement....."Subscribe today and we'll throw in
an extra knife-o-matic for free! That's a $40.00 value for only 25 cents!" This
usually means that the seller is overstocked or are charging you so much for the first
item that it pays for the cost of both articles.