Psychology and advertising have long been intermingled. Psychologists have worked in advertising since the early 20th century, and they have used their knowledge of human behavior to try and persuade people to buy certain products.
One way that advertising works is by trying to make an association in consumers’ minds between a product and certain desirable qualities like beauty and wealth. For example, a perfume company might have a magazine ad that shows a beautiful woman getting into an expensive car. The advertiser hopes that the reader will take away an association of the product with beautiful people and luxurious things. The underlying message is that using the perfume might make you beautiful and wealthy as well. Of course, when it is spelled out that blatantly, it sounds silly. People do not generally make such a conscious choice, but such associations do affect them. Otherwise, there would be little demand for things like designer labeling on clothes that often do little more than announce the status of the wearer to others.
This type of advertising also has its dangers. It can backfire if the main image is so distracting that the consumer does not recall what is actually being advertised.
Another thing advertising can achieve is making an audience feel comfortable with a company. The right kind of humor can make consumers feel as though a company is just like them. Humor is an effective tool for creating this sense of familiarity and friendliness. Geico and Aflac are both examples of companies that ran advertising campaigns that attempted to be memorable as well as funny. By having animals with names similar to the companies themselves deliver pitches and repeat the name of the company several times, viewers could both be amused and remember the product.
Color is another way advertisers and companies hope to appeal to consumers. Color may have an influence on mood and behavior, and different colors have different associations for people. Think about a room painted a deep dark red and then one painted a sunny yellow. How do those colors affect you? How do companies use those colors to convey certain emotions and ideas to consumers?