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Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

One of the most interesting facts about how products are sold, is that the products which can do you the most harm are often the most flattering to you in their ads.


Flattery used to belong to the domain of interpersonal relations. You “buttered someone up” if you wanted something from them. You flattered someone to influence a result in a positive direction. Sadly, this tool has been adopted by the marketing industry.


We like being flattered. Plain and simple, there’s no one who doesn’t like it, though they may be shy about receiving such flattery in public. There’s a rush of recognition and pride in knowing that others share a good opinion of you. How does this translate to marketing?

Alcohol companies talk about exciting lifestyles, smoking was always for the adventurous and stylish, and our cars tragically live more exciting lives than we often do. Credit card companies are the most entertaining with how they offer you a veritable Olympics of card recognition. First gold cards, now platinum, then platinum plus. You are given more and more recognition as they flatter you. Pre-approved applications come with directions indicating that they will be handled with “special care” as the company is honored to offer you your due.

Attending bars and drinking alcohol are marketed as part of adulthood, which makes them all the more attractive as soon as youth turn of legal age. Credit cards, also viewed as a staple of adulthood, are offered in universities to youth eagerly trying to establish their adult identities.


Just as with flattering individuals, we need to look through at the motivations behind the flattery. In the end, we truly are doing a favor to a company when we buy or use its product, but we do owe it to ourselves to make sure we receive the maximum benefit for the money we spend. So look beyond the flattery, and see what the flattery is trying to hide.

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