Advertisements: Social Influence

As I have been recently working from home, I have finally found the time to make some changes and upgrades to my car (2016 Subaru WRX STI). I purchased a set of upgraded front/rear performance brake pads from and immediately began to receive spam emails from them (big surprise).

In the ad below, the company utilizes several principles of influence to entice my desire to purchase from them again. First, the act of using my email address to send this advertisement is wise, as I have already purchased from them before. With the aid of cookies, they also know what I am looking at on their site; due to this, I receive sophisticated targeted advertisements that are quite effective. In the ad, you will notice reciprocation in action in the form of a coupon code. With the offered discount, I am led to believe I am accepting a service, and in turn, desire to make use of it, thus wanting to give them my business. Due to my apparent interest in the website’s products, the liking aspect also comes into play. Finally, you will notice that the offered discount code has an end date, making me desire to use the code quickly before it expires (scarcity). The ad is well-built, leaving little to no possible improvements, except for possibly showing me what I am missing if I don’t use the code (full price of the item).


In this next advertisement, the principle of authority and urgency is utilized early on, as the title of the email included a COVID-19 warning. As a new homeowner (and frequent shopper at Lowe’s due to the military discount), the ad seems to know that it should capitalize on my fear of the virus due to improper/ faulty hardware or preventive measures. Authority is utilized as Lowe’s is well known to be experts at home maintenance. The ad seems to use equal parts of manipulation and influence. The ad could be improved by adding some scare tactics like stating that homeowners who don’t replace their air filter would be at an additional (insert shocking percentage) of risk due to COVID-19, but I wouldn’t recommend it.


In the next advertisement, is again, attempting to turn my one-time purchase into a long-term relationship with the company (which is smart). The ad is letting me know I can send pictures of my car to them or use a specific # (hashtag) and be possibly featured on their website or social media accounts. In the ad, likability and social proof are utilized in having me be proud of my build, be interested in others seeing the parts I ordered from the company, and possibly be featured on their site (gain followers/sponsorships). Social proof would be going to their social media sites to see all the other happy customers, leading to my eventual trust with the company’s products. While this advertisement isn’t even trying to sell me anything, I must admit that it was far more effective at helping navigate my cursor over the buy button on an upgraded exhaust system than all the others.


Next, we have an email sent from the gym that I go to; as I practically live there, their closing due to COVID-19 was devastating! Since they are shut down, they have begun to hold Facebook Live workout classes, which on their part is an excellent idea as keeping their company name in your minds (at the very least), can limit the number of customers who cancel their memberships. Again, this advertisement isn’t necessarily selling anything besides boosting/maintaining their brand’s image. In the ad, commitment and consistency are shown as they need to display that they care about the customer’s fitness during these strange times. Also, social proof comes into play, as in the full email, you see the high popularity of the program (others are doing it? I should try it!) Reciprocation also somewhat comes into play as even with the company prorating monthly charges during their shutdown, they are still providing you with resources for free.


In the last advertisement, we have one of the MANY emails I receive from ADT. When I first purchased my house, I bought their services to protect it (without doing any form of research into the security systems I could easily set up and cost significantly less). While I regret my decision, it is essential to understand why I did this. I am a huge tech nerd and am working on a master’s degree in cybersecurity, why would I need someone to install a system at all? Well, the brand name did it. ADT is widely known as a leading security company (even use it in the White House); this kind of authority and social proof influence led me to shell out a hefty sum every month for a system I could have installed for free (and probably be more sophisticated). In the ad, you notice the authority and urgency of the content; COVID-19 has the world seeking help protecting their loved ones, why not let ADT help? Effective? Yes. Manipulative? Also, yes.


Categories: Security

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s