Christian Long

Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man

In TED Talks on May 23, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Reflection by ANDREW R.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Rory Sutherland:  Life Lessons from an Ad Man

In this video, Rory Sutherland speaks about advertisements, propaganda, and how companies do certain things to increase the value of a certain product, which is called “subliminal advertisement.” Sutherland, who is a very successful ad man, very clearly gets his message through to the audience. However, if you don’t completely understand what intangible and perceived value is, you might have some trouble understanding the full picture of this talk. Honestly, I don’t understand what intangible and perceived value are, but I comprehend what Sutherland is talking about.

Sutherland uses Frederick the Great as an example, speaking of how this king very cleverly made the potato into something royal and amazing. When he first introduced the potato to his people, they had no interest in these vegetables because they did not look appetizing at all. Through great use of subliminal advertising, Frederick planted a garden of potatoes that were only to be eaten by the royal family. Frederick the Great hired men to poorly guard the potatoes, therefore people would steal the potatoes and eat them, thinking that they are royal now. This was a very efficient way of getting people to eat and love potatoes.

Sutherland also speaks about how clever companies are when it comes to advertising. Smart companies have the control to change the whole perspective of the product just by changing one thing from the original advertisement. Sutherland uses the cereal brand, “Shreddies,” as an example of how companies do this. Shreddies is just a standard cereal which is square-shaped. They are only sold in New Zealand, Canada, and Britain. Shreddies are very similar to Chex, which are sold in the United States. Shreddies took a risk by launching a new type of cereal called “Diamond Shreddies.” The company turned the square so that it was diamond-shaped, which is nothing different from a square. The commercial satirically mocks the naivety of the average human being by showing that humans thought that the new “Diamond Shreddies” either tasted better or worse that the original Shreddies.

The main concept that Sutherland is displaying to the people of TED – and the people of the world – is subliminal advertising. People become very influenced when exposed to subliminal advertising and they are much more likely to buy or invest in the product. Just by seeing the way that Sutherland delivered his speech, you can tell that he is a very successful advertiser.


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