Maslow’s Lasting Influence on Advertising

Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of needs that began at the physiological and ended up at the psychological.  

This ad for Smartwater is an example of both the highest and lowest needs.  At its most basic level, Smartwater quenches the thirst of those who drink it.  They transcended these basic needs though, to create an ad where a woman is in a trance as she looks out at a body of water with a piece of paper in her hands.  She could not be happier nor more serene.  This is need #5, self-actualization, while the need for water in general is #1, physiological.

Smartwater’s strategy here was not to appeal to people who need the basic need of water but to those who seek some greater understanding of the world.  The image in the ad depicts this, as does the name of the brand.

The need for safety is a completely different feeling, and it is #2 on Maslow’s hierarchy.  This ad for Chase fraud protection is a perfect example of a product that makes people feel more secure – more financially secure to be exact.  Chase ran this ad undoubtedly because they wanted to lure people to sign up for their cards by offering potential customers zero liability protection.  As the headline says, if you didn’t buy it, you don’t have to worry about it.   

In this final ad, for Samsung, two of Maslow’s needs are present.  This Touch of Color television is “beautifully sculpted” and “inspired by art.”   People, mostly men, buy televisions so that they can show them off.  This gains them social acceptance which is #3 on Maslow’s hierarchy.  A large television can also add to a man’s self-esteem, making him feel prestigious and accomplished (Need #4).

Samsung’s strategy here was alert consumers that this television is downright beautiful.  It doesn’t mention anything about the quality of the picture, but when people see it, it will probably be off most of the time anyways… so to the audience they are targeting, the TV’s physical appearance matters just as much as picture quality.  And a well-designed TV is certainly a product that has a considerable place in the market.

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