Advertising: The Targeting of Human Emotions

Many facts about a decade can be shown through the products sold and invented during that time period. An advertisement, for those products, not only shows what’s being sold, but also reveals details about society at that time. In order to grab the viewer’s attention advertisements often reveal something about the culture through their target audience. Advertisements, in general, also use aspects of human psychology to persuade the buyer their product is the best. This ultimately shows that close analysis of advertising tactics can reveal facts of culture and human nature during a historical time period.

In Pentron’s Tape Recorder Advertisement for a 1956 Holiday magazine, the role of male dominance in a household is revealed. The advertisement states, “Thanks a lot, DAD- we’ve always wanted a pentron TAPE RECORDER.” This advertisement bolds the two most important words, the consumer and the product. By visibly making the word dad stand out, it’s clear that men did the majority of the purchasing at this time and had the most power in households. Not only does the article grab men’s attention by the bolding the word dad, but has a way of emotionally persuading them to purchase the product. The advertisement shows an image of the mother standing back, while two children smile and grab onto their father, after receiving the tape recorder. This once again shows how the mother isn’t involved in the purchasing, and therefore reveals male superiority. However, to the consumer, it also is persuasive because its essentially saying if you buy our product your children will be happy. Not only does the advertisement emotionally persuade the consumer though, it also looks very trustworthy and is eye catching. At the bottom of the advertisement it lists all the different places, with addresses, as to where you can purchase the tape recorder, making it seem legitimate and also a big hit if 8 different places are selling it. The advertisement is also eye catching. The advertisement uses different fonts and sizes of words in order to make things stand out to the consumer. For example, every time the word Pentron is used, they use their logo, not just regular font. Overall, Pentron’s Tape Recorder advertisement uses emotional persuasion and eye catching visual tactics, in order to persuade fathers that the tape recorder is the perfect gift for their child.

In Revere’s 1956 Tape Recorder advertisement, published in the New Yorker, one can see the how ordinary people want to be like famous people. The advertisement states, “Top Stars Choose Revere ‘Balanced Tone’ HIGH FIDELITY TAPE RECORDERS.” Then the ad proceeds to talk about how Doris Day and other famous people find the recorder “invaluable.” The first three words of the ad “Top Stars Choose,” is at the top of the ad and is in the biggest font seen on the advertisement, besides the logo. This was clearly an intentional decision to grab the reader’s attention. While flipping through the New Yorker, a reader is more likely to stop and read about something famous people are doing than read about a tape recorder. Its human nature, to want to do things famous people are doing, so the advertisement persuades the viewer into purchasing their product by showing that Stars like Doris day are buying the tape recorder and love it.  Also the idea that famous people are happy with the product reassures the consumer that the product is trustworthy and worth their money. In addition, most of the advertisement is taken up by a photo of Doris Day, which also was a carefully selected. In the 1950’s Doris Day was a very famous actress, so by posting her picture at the center of the ad, this was also more likely to catch the readers attention. However, one can see from the advertisement that this product isn’t just for the average consumer, but those a little more well off. At the bottom of the ad, three prices are listed for three different types of tape recorders. Each price ranges from 170-285 dollars, which is the 1950’s was very expensive. Also, a tape recorder isn’t a necessity, so it’s clear that if for those who have a little extra spending money. In conclusion, Revere’s Tape Recorder targets wealthy consumers through eye catching visuals, text layout, and the appeal to be like the famous.

In Webcor’s 1953 Tape Recorder Advertisement, the importance of family is used to persuade the buyer. In the middle of the advertisement, taking up most of the page, is a family sitting around a large table, smiling, with a large turkey on their table and a tape recorder next to it. Beneath the photo, in a bold large font, the advertisement states, “ Only the turkey can’t talk. Tape it and keep it for life.” The ad then proceeds to say how families should record their Thanksgiving Dinners, so that years later they can play back the tape and listen to that “precious memory.” Family memories are very important to most people, so by establishing that as the use for this electronic, people are emotionally persuaded to buy the product. Also the decision to place the family photo in the center of the ad, rather than the product, served the purpose of initially catching the consumers’ attention while they were flipping through the magazine the ad was published in. An individual is more likely to stop if they see a picture of a happy family, than a tape recorder. However, this advertisement is clearly targeted at an older generation that wants to savor and remember the last memories with their families, rather than teenagers or young adults. The product is also for those whom are well off. At the bottom of the advertisement, it shows an image of the product with a description, a price, and an address for the company. All this information makes the consumer feels as though the product comes from a reputable maker, however the price of 287.50 reveals it’s only for those of a higher economic class. Also, the style of clothing the family in the photo is wearing is that of an upper class. Overall, Webcor’s Tape Recorder targets the older generation of an upper middle class through the notion of memory preservation.

The Three Tape Recorder advertisements each come from a different company, however they all rely on human weakness to entice buying of their product. Each of these advertisements don’t focus on the product itself, but rather focus on a weakness in humans that will make the buyer want to purchase the product. For example, Pentron’s advertisement focuses on the need for love, Revere’s advertisement focuses on the idea that people want to be like the rich and famous, and Webcor’s advertisement focuses on the importance of family and memories. All three advertisements also use similar tactics to visually attract the consumer. All three ads, place a photo in the center that has to do with the target weakness, they also bold certain slogans or words that are important. In summary, although the main idea of each advertisement may be different, the methods of persuasion and attraction to the products are almost identical.


Pentron. “Thanks a lot, Dad-we’ve Always Wanted a Pentron Tape Recorder.” Advertisement. 1956. Ad*Access. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.

Revere. “Top Stars Choose Revere ‘Balanced Tone’ High Fidelity Tape Recorders.” Advertisement. New Yorker 1956: n. pag. Ad*Access. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.

Webcor. “Only the Turkey Can’t Talk. Tape it and Keep it for Life.” Advertisement. Look 1953:n.pag. Ad*Access. Web.29 Nov. 2014.


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