When happiness and advertising clash

Since immemorial times, philosophists, socialogists and pretty much everyone who has ever

studies the human behaviour in some sense have been trying to pin-point exactly just what

happiness is. Granted, there are a couple of definitions out there that more or less describe the

concept of happiness. The Oxford dictionary defines “happiness”or the state of being “happy”

as a feeling of showing trust, contentment or excitement. But the concept of “happiness”some

might argue can take on more definitions depending on the area or field on which it is

projected and, granted, the field of advertising is no exception.

In a paper published in the well known Chicago Journals entitled “How Happiness Affects

Choice” (written by Cassie Mogilner, Jennifer Aaker, and Sepandar D.), the concept

of „happiness” is thrown into the area of advertising in order to establish how

customers behave (more exactly, how much do they buy) based on their feelings. The

papers starts of by giving a general definition on the concept of being „happy” and

gives out examples of commercials or companies that have tried to cash in on the well-

known feeling: ”Nesquik claims, “You can’t buy happiness, but you can drink it.”

Dunkin’ Donuts promotes a breakfast sandwich as “The happiest sandwich on Earth.”

Nivea offers a body lotion, “Happy Sensation.” Hugo Boss offers “Orange, the

fragrance of happiness,” and Clinique similarly offers a perfume named “Clinique

Happy.”” Though it is clear that companies often times rely on associating the concept

of „happiness”with their products, the paper goes on to state that, in fact, there are few

documented research papers focues on studying the link between customer behaviour

and feeeling „happy”, which is why the research goes on to ask two vital questions:

”Does the promise of happiness drive consumer choice? Or does it depend on what

happiness means to that particular individual?”

Then on, there are a number of studies launched in order to see the full spectrum of the client-

happiness-purchasing relation from a temporal, age, and desire based stand point. In the end it

is concluded that in fact what the client is feeling the moment he is purchasing a product,

although important, is less influencing in his decision making process than the idea that said

product might bring him something extra, enabling them in their active pursuit of happiness.

It would seem that by promising something in the near future (in this case promising the

notion of some sort of happiness- more along the lines of the feelings of content or even

excitement), marketers have found a way of making their products more and more appealing

for their audience. This is why often times products – pertaining to a variety of industries such

and the make-up industry, food industry etc.- associate their products with concepts such as

“happiness”, “love”, “family” and so on because they are deemed as desirable, though maybe

not be everyone, but by a vast majority of the public.


by Catalina Matasaru


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