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  • Kahmile Reid

Handle adverts, or be handled!

We have all become entangled in a world of promotional excess. Everywhere we turn there is some kind of advertisement or a version thereof waiting for us to acknowledge and act upon it. We are surrounded by promotions as consumers. It’s considered a burden by many, and a nuisance by others.


What if instead of thinking of it as a burden or a nuisance, we acknowledge it, appreciate it and use it as empowerment?




Handle the information being thrown at you, don’t let it handle you…You can either be the chest piece or the player.


We are the subjects of promotion, and we become human canvasses for promotion in the same breath. The word “SALE” on the Victoria’s Secret carrier bag serves a purpose... and to be honest, that bag being carried by random person on the street has inspired me make unplanned trips to the store many times. That’s a bit of impulsive shopping on my part. But there is a more serious (for those who can fund it) effect promotional excess can have on a consumer…its called the Diderot Effect.


The “Diderot effect,” was a term coined following an essay written by 18th century philosopher Denis Diderot entitled Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown.

The short story is that after Diderot received a new gown, he discarded the old gown and found himself changing his surroundings to match the elegance of the new gown. He ended up regretting his decision because he eventually found himself in elegant but uncomfortable surroundings.


The Diderot effect speaks to consumers’ need for conformity to one purchase which leads to a myriad others that we convince ourselves to be “necessary”. For example, a new jacket will lead to the need for the purchase of a new shirt with which to wear it. We then convince ourselves that the new jacket and shirt doesn’t look quite right with old pants and old shoes, so we purchase those as well. Before we realize it, we are refurbishing our living room to match the newly acquired wardrobe.


This goes back to one of the major criticism of advertising which is, it encourages people to want far more than they need. So before making major purchases, think about this, is it a “need-to-have” or a “nice-to-have”?


If we handle the information being produced by advertisers rather than being handled…we stand a change of escaping the Diterot effect.


I refuse to believe that as consumers we are victims surrounded by these big bad ads convincing us to do things we don’t want to do. We are also armed with more information than ever to make important decisions about the quality of the products we purchase and how they can improve our lives. Not only that, we now have channels through which we can voice and share satisfaction or dissatisfaction with these products on a variety platforms.


More on how consumers can use their power on my next blog.


Watch this space!


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