Any Publicity is NOT Good Publicity

People are very opinionated, to the point of absurdity at times. Some decisions we make are based solely on good and bad associations, regardless of good judgment, logic, or even properly being informed.

What separates us from animals is primarily this:

  • An animal’s reality and motivations are based mainly on their instincts
  • A human’s reality and motivations are based mainly on their psychological state

And that has advantages and disadvantages for us, that can get extremely in-depth, so I’ll just stick to the point-at-hand: decision-making.

Anytime you see a commercial, advertisement, or celebrity talking about something, this isn’t just advertising, it’s PR (Public Relations). They’re trying to appeal to you, relate to you, to a demographic you may fit into. The most common tactic is comedy, to make someone feel good and then associate that feeling with a product. This is why you often see actors in commercials with inappropriately big smiles using some generic product like a spatula. This can also backfire and become counter-productive.

Have you ever seen a commercial that tried to be funny, and was likely the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen? Well, psychologically, most likely out of your control, you’ve probably now made the same association about whatever it is they’re trying to sale, that the product itself is dumb. This is hardly logical, but how the human mind works.

Even knowing this, I still do it all the time. Here’s an example: I use Vonage. I do need a phone, but more so, I have associated Vonage as a tech-savvy and friendly company, in which their ads are aesthetically pleasing to me. Because of this, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to “go” with them. Now, when magicJack first came out, I instantly disregarded it. I thought their commercials were of very poor quality, cheesy graphics reminiscent of when I first started learning graphic design. Regardless of whether or not it worked or whether it was cheaper, I had the preconceived notion that it was garbage and not worth my time.

People often have the same misconception when something is more expensive. We decide “It’s more expensive, must be better, right?”. Sometimes we are hurt by or dislike someone. Then, if we ever meet someone else by the same name we might have an uncontrollable bad association with them. It’s even been shown in studies that some women have gone on record to say they voted for a certain Presidential candidate solely based on who they thought was better looking. From our personal lives to the President of United States of America, we can base trivial to important decisions on absurdly illogical positive and negative associations that have nothing to do with the factors and merits at hand.

We could see a movie or not see a movie based on who is in it and how we feel about them, but not by how good the plot is. Maybe you have a website that is ugly and unprofessional, maybe you have a cheesy logo, maybe you put out a commercial that is trying to be funny or clever and is neither. If you offer a good service or quality products, no one will ever know it unless your presence, marketing, advertising image is good. It’s just bad publicity otherwise. Any publicity or exposure really isn’t always good publicity or exposure. It’s not ideal, and it shouldn’t make sense, but it’s the truth, people will always judge a book by its cover.