"The purpose of many advertisements is to make consumers want to buy a product so that they will ’be like’ the person in the ad. This practice is effective because it not only sells products but also helps people feel better about themselves."
Many advertisements do indeed use attractive models or celebrities to entice consumers into buying the products that are being promoted. Who would not like to look like the beautiful models that are depicted enjoying the product? Who would not like to be like a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods? To a certain extent, buying products to emulate the persons shown in the advertisements can make a person feel better about him or herself. But this type of advertisement can be a double-edged sword - when the product does not make the person "be like" the person in the advertisement, there can be disappointment and disillusionment with the product.
Marketing departments have long known that using attractive models and celebrity endorsers can help to persuade consumers to buy a product. Some customers may actually believe that buying and using the product will make them "be like" the people featured in the ad. For other consumers, there is probably at least some subconscious reaction that causes them to believe that they will in fact assume some of the characteristics of the person depicted in the advertisement. Consumers with a lower sense of self-esteem are more likely to buy a product based on the motivation that they will become like someone else.
Proof of this marketing axiom can be found by simply looking at advertisements from around the world. People featured in advertisements are almost always good-looking, healthy and physically fit. Marketers are savvy enough, and enough market research has proven that, consumers are motivated to buy by advertisements featuring attractive models. Even advertisements that are aimed at the older people of a population will feature attractive older people. Although there has been some criticism about the effect of showing only "beautiful people" on the general population, particularly on young women, advertisers know that beauty sells. But whether this practice makes people feel better about themselves depends on the individual and is certainly open to debate.
Some individuals with a low sense of self-esteem, especially younger people, may purchase products in an attempt to make themselves be like the person featured in the advertisement. Young women in particular may buy cosmetics or clothing advertised by beautiful models in an attempt to look the same as them. Young men may buy athletic shoes or apparel in an attempt to perform athletically in the same way that the person featured in the advertisement plays. These people may then become further discouraged when they use or wear the product and find out that they are the same person that they were before. Buying the product hasn’t changed anything.
There are others that may derive a certain sense of satisfaction over the fact that they wear the same underwear as some beautiful models or that they drink the same soft drink as Britney Spears. These people in general already have a good sense of who they are and don’t expect a particular product to perform miracles for them. For these people, the purchase of the product is not so much as an image enhancer; it is more of a form of self-expression. Perhaps drinking a Pepsi-Cola makes them feel younger or wearing Nike shoes makes them feel more athletic, no matter how old or inactive they may be in reality. In this manner, it is possible that advertising can make people feel better about themselves.
Marketing and advertising absolutely must appeal to people in one way or another to be successful. Research has shown that using celebrities and attractive people can motivate consumers to purchase a product. In whatever manner, advertisers hope that they actually can make people feel better about themselves, because that can help foster repeat purchases of a product. Ultimately, whether an advertisement makes a person feel better about him or herself depends on the individual and how they perceive themselves as compared to the particular advertisement in question.