Don’t read this blog

Anyone who’s ever raised a child knows the power of reverse psychology.cartoon

If you want little Johnny to, say, eat something nutritious and he balks, smart parents will turn the proposition on its head. You’ll tell Johnny he’s 100 percent correct in turning up his nose at those hideous Brussel Sprouts. In fact, you tell him you agree those nasty veggies are a pox on mankind.

Then you move in for the kill. You ask Johnny why he’d want to eat Brussel Sprouts? All they’ll do is make him healthier, stronger and more likely to make the basketball team. And, sure as rain, just as you’re taking the offending meal away, Johnny grabs the plate and scarfs down the sprouts.

The same philosophy applied to Romeo and Juliet. Odds are good the star-crossed lovers wouldn’t have ended falling in love and up ending it all if their families hadn’t forbade them from seeing each other.

I mention reverse psychology because one of my favorite radio stations, is using reverse psychology in a spot recorded by Alec Baldwin. The commercial’s goal is to try and drum up money for QXR’s member-supported station. But, rather than rehash the same old advertising bromide, Baldwin does just the opposite in a brilliant and funny way.

Baldwin’s commercial broke through the clutter and got me thinking about gift-giving in a whole new way. So, why don’t more marketers try reverse psychology to sell their wares?

Here are a few half-baked suggestions:

– United Airlines: “Our in-flight experience is so good even Saudi princes beg us to let them sit in coach.”
– McDonald’s: “A waist is a terrible thing to waste.”
– Goldman Sachs: “Rich isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

How about you? Have you seen, read or heard examples of reverse psychology to sell something? If so, don’t send me the link. I’m not interested.

3 thoughts on “Don’t read this blog

  1. I love this blog and agree with the reverse psychology. The only issue is that if too many other brands/organizations start doing it, it loses its impact. But, the Baldwin “spot” is great. One of my favorite campaigns of all time that I’d like to share is the reverse psychology campaign to save a library in Troy, Michigan. Here’s the link to the case study: It’s brilliant since it completely changed the conversation which resulted in direct action to save this library.

  2. Love you, but you lost me at “Alec Baldwin.” My wife has banned that name in my presence because I froth at the mouth.