A. Listen to a marketing expert talking about six marketing techniques used by advertisers. Complete the messages they use with two or three words.

1   “Get a _________ when you subscribe to our magazine for six months.”

2   “There are _________ left! But now while supplies last!”

3   “_________ it.”

4   “_________ can look like this.”

5   “A recent _________ found that our toothpaste cleans your teeth better than any other brand.”

6   “_________, I’m a doctor (or a celebrity).”

B. Listen again. Answer the questions for each message in A.

1   Why does it attract us?

2   Why is it misleading?



1 free Bluetooth speaker   2 only a few   3 Everybody’s using

4 You too   5 independent study   6 Trust me


1   The word free makes us want it.

      Its price is really included in the magazine subscription.

2   We want to be among the lucky few who have the products.

      It’s not really true that there are only a few remaining; companies can always produce more.

3   We think everybody can’t be wrong.

      Not everybody is using it, and even if they are, everybody can be wrong.

4   We want to look fabulous.

      We can’t look like the person in the photo, because he / she is a model and the photo has been airbrushed.

5   It sounds like an official recommendation.

      The company probably paid for the study.

6   It must be fantastic / really work if a doctor or celebrity recommends it.

      It’s probably not true. The “doctor” may be an actor.


The first point to bear in mind is that nothing, nothing, is ever free. How often have you seen ads saying things like “Get a free Bluetooth speaker when you subscribe to our magazine for six months”? There’s something about the word “free” that immediately attracts us – I want it! It makes us feel clever, as if we are going to get something for nothing. But, of course, that Bluetooth speaker (which, incidentally, will probably break the second time you use it) wasn’t free at all. In spite of what the ad said, its price was really included in the magazine subscription. So don’t trust any ad that offers something for free.

A second trick that advertisers use is when they tell us “There are only a few left! Buy now while supplies last!” What happens to us when we read or hear these words? Even though we don’t really need the products, and maybe don’t even like them, we immediately want to be among the lucky few who have them. But – let’s be clear about this – companies just don’t run out of products. Do you really think the manufacturers couldn’t produce a few more, if they thought they could sell them? Of course they could.

When it comes to new products, we, the consumers, are like sheep and we follow each other. So, another way advertisers have of getting us to use something is to tell us “Everybody’s using it.” And of course, we think everybody can’t be wrong, so the product must be fantastic. So as to make us believe it, they use expressions like “It’s a must-have” or “It’s the in thing,” and they combine this with a photograph of a large group of people, so that we can’t fail to get the message. But don’t be fooled. Even if everybody is using it (and they may not be), everybody can be wrong.

Another favorite message is “You too can look like this,” accompanied by a photo of a fabulous-looking man or woman. But the problem is: you can’t look like this because actually the woman or man in the photo is a model and also because he or she doesn’t really look like that, either. The photo has been airbrushed in order to make the model look even slimmer, with perfect skin, and even more attractive than they are in real life.

Ads also often mention a particular organization that recommends their product, for example, things like “Our dog treats are recommended by the International Association of Dog Nutritionists” – well, that’s probably an organization that the company set up themselves. Or “A recent independent study found that our toothpaste cleans your teeth better than any other brand.”

What study was it? Who commissioned the study? It was probably produced for the company itself, and paid for by them, too. Finally, what annoys me the most is, “Trust me, I’m a doctor” or “Trust me, I’m a celebrity.” The idea is that if a celebrity is using the product, it must be fantastic, or if a doctor recommends it, it must really work. But be careful. Although the actress is holding the product in the photo, do you really think she colors her hair with it at home? And the doctor in the ad, is he really a doctor or just an actor wearing a white coat?

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