The average attention span of a human is 8 seconds and considering the pool of information out there, it can be a daunting task to make your content stand out from the rest. According to Nielsen, there are 27,000,000 pieces of content shared each day. Nothing new, you already knew that right? This blog just might be another one of those long reads contributing to the gigantic repository of digital content and there isn’t any relevance reading this. Think about it, do you really want to waste a few minutes reading an article (knowing your attention span is very limited) or would you want to do something interesting, listening to music or scrolling through Instagram perhaps?
It’s a simple concept, people skip over ads. So if you’re going to design a winning advertisement, you’ve got to get everyone hooked. There is a little trick brands worldwide are adopting and nobody seems to talk about it enough. Reverse psychology, it is a powerful psychological technique that has been used for decades in various fields, including advertising. It is a strategy for getting what you want by demanding or suggesting what you don’t want. By making consumers believe that they don’t want something, they can actually be persuaded to want it even more. This phenomenon has proven to be an effective tool for increasing sales and revenue.
Reverse psychology is a type of manipulation in which the target is encouraged to act in opposition to what is expected of them. This can be accomplished by phrasing a request negatively or restrictively to make it appear less appealing or desired. For example, In order to make their child more motivated to acquire what they want, a parent can, for instance, inform their child that they cannot have a specific item.
Reverse psychology works by playing on people’s natural desire for control and autonomy.
When we are told that we cannot do something, it triggers a sense of rebellion or resistance. This can make us more inclined to want to do the very thing we are being told not to do. In the case of advertising, this technique can be used to make products or services more appealing to consumers.
Brands have been using reverse psychology in their advertising campaigns for many years. One of the most famous examples is the “Think Small” campaign by Volkswagen in the 1960s. At a time when American cars were getting bigger and more ostentatious, Volkswagen deliberately positioned its compact and unassuming Beetle as an anti-status symbol. By using a minimalist design and emphasizing the car’s economy and practicality, the campaign succeeded in making the Beetle more desirable to consumers who were looking for something different.
There is a Prada store in Manhattan with no outdoor signage. There’s nothing that indicates that it’s even a store, let alone a prestigious Prada store. This creates the illusion that they aren’t trying to sell to just anyone who walks in off the street. You have to know it’s there, or you might miss it. This enhances its mysterious feel and sense of exclusivity. Consumers, who may feel uncomfortable with being excluded, will be more likely to visit the store and make a purchase.
Another example of reverse psychology in advertising is the “Do Not Open Until Christmas” campaign by Kit Kat. By urging consumers to save their chocolate bars for a certain day, Kit Kat sparked interest and anticipation. The campaign played on people’s natural desire for instant gratification, making them more likely to want to indulge in the chocolate as soon as possible.
Burger King has used reverse psychology in its marketing campaigns too. In a 2018 campaign, the fast-food chain ran a series of ads featuring customers who were disappointed with their meals, hoping to appeal to consumers who were skeptical of fast food. The campaign used a tagline that read “The worst burger king in the world”, which was meant to be interpreted ironically. The ads were designed to create buzz around the brand and attract customers who were looking for something different.
Recently, Hilton used this strategy to create one of the most popular advertisements of all time and it’s 10 minutes long. The advertisement uses reverse psychology and shows a person laying on bed enjoying Hilton perks saying “you may not want to watch a 10-minutes long ad but I will”. The advertisement features multiple TikTok creators and the entire ad feels like the viewers are scrolling through their “For You” page, essentially creating a “For You” page within a video. Towards the end of the ad there’s a song which essentially says why would anyone want to watch a 10-minutes ad and when it loops back to Paris Hilton in the end, the viewers realize that they’ve done just that.
There are several benefits to using reverse psychology in advertising. It can be an effective way to stand out from the competition. By positioning a product or service in a counterintuitive way, brands can differentiate themselves from other companies in their industry. This can be particularly useful in crowded or competitive markets, where it can be difficult to make a brand stand out.
A notable buzz can be effectively created through reverse psychology. By creating a sense of intrigue or mystery around a product or service, brands can encourage people to talk about them. This can be a particularly effective strategy for small businesses or start-ups, which may not have the resources to run large-scale advertising campaigns.
By persuading consumers to think and act in a way that is contrary to their initial beliefs, brands can create a sense of exclusivity and increase demand for their products or services. When used correctly, the power of reverse psychology can be a valuable tool for businesses to multiply their profits and create a loyal customer base.
Wow! You’ve made it to the end of this article, you did it! 👏 Well, we guess that answers the question we asked in the first paragraph.