(Insincere) Flattery Works

Flattery–even exaggerated, insincere and obvious flattery–works. That’s the conclusion from a study looking at whether compliments initially dismissed as “meaningless flattery” in advertising copy work on an implicit, unconscious level. They do.

What this research suggests […] is that the implicit positivity we experience as a result of viewing [positive advertising] images could play an important role in what we reach for when standing in the liquor store staring at a freezer full of cheap beer. You may not know why, but you’d feel pretty good about a Bud right now. And while you feel certain to you that your preference is not due to those silly ads (just like it might seem obvious to a manager that they didn’t promote a candidate because he brings her donuts every morning), perhaps it is the certainty with which we dismiss these kinds of manipulative and deceptive appeals that allows them to hold such sway.