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One thing I’ve learned from watching three episodes of Mad Men is that effective advertisements are subtle, often so much so that it’s hard to tell what the message is. Sometimes there isn’t a message, just a feeling – a feeling that market researchers have spent hundreds of hours and millions of dollars learning to evoke, because when we feel them, we buy stuff.

And then there’s the other approach – full on blunt. Witness the brilliance of the Ring Pop commercial:

Nerdy, shy kid feels somewhat out of place at the game. He pulls out his favorite oral fixation for comfort. Others see it, and suddenly he is leading them. The message couldn’t be simpler: “If you buy our product, you will be popular.”

My favorite thing about this is that there’s no logic behind the story arc. He doesn’t share the Ring Pop with anyone. Eating it doesn’t give him magic powers or anything. It’s just owning it that makes him loved.

I want so badly to interview the advertising agency behind this gem. Did they just figure kids are stupid and will just believe anything they see? More importantly, does the commercial work? Why do I suddenly want a Ring Pop?

These are the things I wonder about while watching Cartoon Network in the middle of the day. If I don’t get a job soon, I’m gonna end up buried under a mountain of Pillow Pets.

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