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Manipulation in marketing and advertising.

Marketing, advertising – it's all just bullshit. It comes down to manipulation. You've got to play the game.

One reason I started writing these articles is because in early 2016, one of my work friends said the above to me. And I was a bit stuck for a reply. I mumbled something along the lines of "! We're here to inspire people and improve their lives" – which was only met by a cynical laugh.

In retrospect (and despite evidence to the contrary), I didn't really know what to say because I like to pretend that the marketing-slash-advertising industry doesn't involve manipulation.

Because manipulation sounds deceitful.

And bragging about one's manipulative abilities (viz. my colleague) can never not come across as presumptuous. "Lo and behold how I can make people do things with my awesome Machiavellian skills."

(In fairness, the colleague actually said what he did out of...kindness. He thought – and still does – that I make life unnecessarily hard for myself by trying to find greater truths when sometimes it's just about getting a job done.)

And I can't imagine anyone one likes the thought of being, or having been, manipulated – the thought of taking action not because of one's own bidding, but because of someone else. People like a healthy measure of autonomy.

So I don't like the thought of being manipulative. (Or at least I dislike the thought of being perceived as manipulative.)

But then...I do want people to react to the concepts I come up with, and the words I create, in a specific way.

I want my creations to engender a specific response.

It's about being both functional and performative.

But not in an underhanded way.

So is perhaps persuasion the better term? Persuasion implies there's a dialogue, while manipulation seems distinctly one-sided.

So lo and behold: I am here to persuade.


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