Tension Management in Advertising

Hi, Everyone!

Earlier today, I was chatting with Nancy Dadami, recent graduate of the San Francisco ChangeWorks Practitioner training program, and she shared with me that she’s really been noticing tension all around her since finishing the class.

She pointed out an excellent example of effective tension management that quite literally caught her eye (and ears). It was one of those television commercials for pharmaceuticals that spends 50% or more of the ad time telling you about all of the side effects of the medication — you know, “some patients experience nausea, hair loss, chronic belching, hangnails, irritable bowel and (of course) death.”

Well Nancy noticed that while they’re TELLING you about all of these awful things that might happen to you, they’re simultaneously SHOWING you happy images of kids, friends, family and fun!  A very astute observation indeed!

So which set of messages trumps the other?  Which attempt at tension management prevails?

Obviously — as these commercials clearly demonstrate — the power of the visual pathway, handled well, effectively counteracts the impact the auditory message has on your overall level of production tension.  In this case, the pleasant feelings we associate with what we’re being SHOWN minimizes the tension-elevating impact that the thought of dealing with unpleasant side  effects would surely have.

Imagine what would happen to your level of tension if they actually SHOWED you images of people losing their hair, dashing for the bathroom or laying in state?  How would THAT affect your interest in their miracle pill?

If you open your eyes and ears, you’ll notice that tension management permeates all forms of media. What other examples of tension management can you think of?



One Response to Tension Management in Advertising

  1. Katie Gailes says:

    Actually, I was thinking about common examples of tension management. Limited time offers and special discounts instill a sense of urgency to buy, increasing the level of tension. Credit counseling services talk about how you are never too far gone to get control of your life and your credit, moving people out of paralizing stress into power stress.

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