Rewarding consumers with empty promises?

Operant conditioning is learning based on environmental rewards and punishments. For example: if we buy product X multiple times, we get a reward for doing so. This way we keep buying the product. But the outcome can also be a punishment for not doing something: we learn from an ad that if we don’t use the X-perfume, we will smell bad.

Here is a link for more specific information about operant conditioning:

Many advertisements use these kinds of methods to persuade us to buy the product. They show us how their product makes something possible, such as buying new sneakers makes us run faster. The company plants a belief in our brains that the reward of buying these specific sneakers is an improvement to our running speed. Sometimes the message of promising something may be hidden and not be as visible as in the Colgate ad but we still keep connecting the product to the result.


In the attached ad, Colgate promises us a reward of whiter teeth when we use the specific advertised product. In this advertisement the promise isn’t subtle. They say it loud and clear: use this to get that.

But why do we believe in these messages? As the technology evolves we start to focus more and more on our looks and our health thus we create new problems which we couldn’t even imagine having before. If companies promise to fix our new problems, why wouldn’t we believe in their promises? Maybe we are too lazy to think for a solution by ourselves and therefore we let big companies do the work for us. This is funny because those companies are constantly making us think that we have new problems so it’s easy for them to come up with solutions.

So companies play with our minds to get us buy their products. Would our lives be totally different without this kind of manipulation? Would technology evolve as quickly without our new problems? Or are we just brainless sheep who believe everything without further experimenting?

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2 Responses to Rewarding consumers with empty promises?

  1. samulisr says:

    This is a very good text Joni! I really enjoyed reading it. This text made me truly ponder the way corporations try to convince us to buy their products. You have also found an excellent example (Colgate ad) for this subject, that really speaks for itself. The way you end your blog text is superb, way to go man!

  2. samiviberg says:

    Other thing that companies are using in ads are celebrities. Example Oral-B used Shakira in their advertisement which claimed that Shakira has received white smile by using Oral-B toothpaste. I think everyone can recognize that Shakira’s teeths have been bleached and that she has had white teeths for a long time. Don’t know do some people still believe in that kind of advertising.. And that companies made new promblems and then comes to save us is pretty good point. Nice work.

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