Quirks & Lovemarks: Communication Analysis of “The Persuaders”

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Advertising is unavoidable. We are inundated at the gas pumps, on the Internet, television, in the bowling alley, at the gym – you name it – all in an effort to invoke brand loyalty. Why do you suddenly want to buy a Lexus car after seeing a throbbing, disjointed series of stark-white mannequin models when you've had your heart set on a red van? There is only one way to curb the relentless assault by marketers on one's brain and emotions that persuade you to mindlessly buy. Take control. Be pro-active. Upon viewing the film The Persuaders, a discussion exploring emotional loyalty to brands ensues herein revisiting the term lovemarks, portraying reasons for personal preferences to a brand, describing the illogical nature of one's brand loyalty, and a general inquiry as to why consumers' purchase of goods provides people with a sense of meaningful identity.     

In the film the term “lovemarks” was used to describe brands that people are loyal to regardless of any logical basis. Apparently, CEO Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide coined the term to characterize how consumers are driven to love a product wherein such passionate devotion is infused with irrational, yet emotional attachment. He informs that our engagement with the world is through our five senses, and that emotional loyalty beyond reason to a brand is the formula full of mystery, sensuality, and intimacy which can garner peak profits. This writer had to admit a personal lifelong preference for the Apple or Mac brand computers, and Volkswagen brand of automobiles (even in the face of corporate misconduct). 

Sadly, there is no honorable or reasonable explanation as to why one would prefer either an Apple Mac computer or Volkswagen car above other products in each category. Apple computer commercials are somehow considered so cool that this observer has continued to cultivate a desire to be part of that movement, that cult. When all is said and done there is no logic to it. In fact, PC computers actually offer more opportunities for a plethora of software not available for Mac computers. Therefore of course loyalty to the brand is not logical. This writer loves the Volkswagen brand because his dad owned a series of V-dub bugs (Beetles) over the years, endearing the brand to a connection of deep family feelings of warmness, home, nostalgia, and relationships. Go figure. 

The film The Persuaders argues that purchasing branded goods provides consumers with a sense of identity, such as similarly may be derived from belonging to community organizations, families, peer or civic groups. Some examples of brands that some people most likely enjoy using to attach an identity to themselves are Mercedes, iPhone, Nikes, Lowes, M&M's, BMW, or Lexus. This makes sense from a certain standpoint. People who value attendance to a prestigious university may value the Cal insignia associated with UC Berkeley (The University of California at Berkeley) on their hoodies or tee-shirts thereby identifying themselves with top tier college campuses or aligning with superior educational quality and thus a better intellectual experience. A man may prefer to buy a BMW, or date a girl who drives one, in an effort to feel cool, proud, luxurious, or be associated with a designation that may label him as better than mediocre or one who has good taste, power, or money.

Whatever identity is being provided certainly rests with the individual involved with whichever brand loyalty he or she prescribes to, yet the film makes a great point regarding the whole idea. The notion entails embracing an icon inside one's heartfelt emotions. In other words, emotional brand loyalty can conjure experiences even if they're in your head that make you feel better, or believe you are part of an ethereal community. Some folks may be more easily persuaded than others, and people who already have a deep commitment to a particular neighborhood organization may not be as concerned about portraying an image, or vesting an interest in the need to cling to any alternate identity other than the one he or she has got. Curiously enough the film did discuss how the marketing communication process has become more like entertainment, a way of feeling validated or feeling cool. 

A hot topic within The Persuaders revolved around the idea of engaging and motivating consumers with what they want, or what they want to hear. It all boils down to making people feel good about themselves with flattery, even if the people do not truly possess the qualities that would truly deem a person to be honorable, honest, courageous, good-looking, or tasteful individuals. In other words, the core basis lies in a promulgation of engagement that seeks to use emotions in a way that circumvents higher level cognitive thinking of rationality to make purchasing decisions. This mental reduction results in caving into primal impulses. If this is true, people end up buying things they really do not want, nor need. 

Is this identity any more or less meaningful than in terms of an identity obtained from belonging to a community group or such? It depends on the group. For instance, a teenage neighborhood skateboarding club may have great personal value and satisfaction just as driving a BMW may help one identity as being more successful, if one is involved in the real estate business. On the other hand, if someone is attaching their use of an iPhone to being more lovable when the person is in actuality a thoughtless unkind jerk, what's the point?

In summing up, each of us needs to be aware of falling into the trap wherein blind acceptance devoid of critically cogent and cognitive thinking rules the day. Although there is a mass of manipulative marketing persuasions around every day, taking pro-active control can simply involve turning the television off for a while and perhaps taking a hike, or sitting someplace in a quiet room naked reading a book of poetry. Whatever you do, don't you think it's time to take a step and stop the madness?


Goodman, B., & Rushkoff, D. (2004, November 9). The Persuaders. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/