Deconstructing A Television Advertisement: The Lesson Of Robert Goulet

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Given the slickness of modern advertising, many people often view ads strictly as entertainment, when in fact they are intelligently packaged items designed to use various methods into tricking you into buying your product. I find myself often guilty of this, as I was during the Super Bowl this past weekend when I fell in love with the Emerald Nuts ad starring Robert Goulet. Here it is, in full YouTube glory:

Even though the ad is a solid little piece of entertainment, it’s also very well-designed to coerce you into remembering and buying Emerald Nuts. Let’s take a closer look at the ad to see how it works.

Goulet 1
Around 3 PM, when your blood sugar and energy are low…

Familiarity The ad starts off in an office environment, a familiar situation for a lot of viewers. The familiarity of the office environment is why many ads are now using office situations – it allows the viewer to place themselves in the ad, and thus imagine themselves using the product.

The familiarity is even stronger, however, based on the premise of a sleepiness in the afternoon – again, a situation many can empathize with. Physiologically, most humans go through a period of drowsiness in the afternoon, so this ad uses this common experience to pull us in in another way.

Goulet 2
some say Robert Goulet appears, and messes with your stuff.

Humor The juxtaposition of Robert Goulet in an office environment is humorous – two familiar things combined to make an unfamiliar situation is one of the basic tenets of humor. Humor grabs your attention, makes you watch, and creates a positive endorphin effect inside of you, making you feel in a positive fashion towards the product. A very similar logic applies when sex is used in an ad – it gets our blood pumping a little bit and creates a positive feeling.

A problem There’s also a problem – Goulet is causing chaos in the office. How can this problem be solved?

Goulet 3
But the natural energy in just one handful of Emerald Nuts…

Introduce the product Emerald Nuts is a product that can solve this problem. It can cure an energy dip. How does that affect the humorous problem?

Goulet 4
is enough to keep Robert Goulet away…

Solve the problem The guy eats some Emerald Nuts and Robert Goulet flees into the night. Thus, the product has solved the problem, both in terms of fixing the humorous situation (Goulet) and also fixing the “real” situation (the sleepiness). It’s a real problem solver, and in a situation that you’re already familiar with (the office), it seems like a great fit.

Goulet 5
until tomorrow, anyway.

The big finish The ad finishes with a big display of the product itself at the point where your good feelings about the ad are maximized – you’ve laughed, the problem is solved, and you’ve subconsciously placed yourself in the situation. Don’t forget what created those good feelings – Emerald Nuts!

Thus, the next time you’re in the snack aisle and you see Emerald Nuts, you’ll have a faint remembrance of the positive feelings from the ad – and you just might toss a can in your shopping cart.

This is why many brand names have such loyalty – and why people spend their money to pay more for a product just because of the label. Their mind is littered with the remnants of positive feelings from advertisements, so they buy the product because they have a more positive feeling about it.

The next time you go shopping and automatically reach for a brand name, take a moment and really look at what it is – and what the competitors are also offering. You might realize that in fact the brand name is making you feel different for no tangible reason – that’s advertising at work. Remembering Robert Goulet can often help you save some money when shopping.

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