TJ Kelly

On Parental Mind Control

For any Facebook users out there, you may have seen a "Sponsored Story" in your news feed recently. It’s a YouTube-style internet video clip/advertisement for a computer. I’m not generally one to publicize an ad. By definition, they get enough exposure on their own. This one, however, I feel is worthy of some extra attention.

It’s very simple… kid wants computer > kid tries to control parent’s mind > parent makes fun of kid > parent gets kid the computer anyway, seeming unaware that his mind is being controlled. The tagline? "No, really. It works. The Society for Parental Mind Control can show you how."

Let me tell you why this is one of the most interesting ad campaigns I’ve ever seen…

  1. It’s a YouTube-style "funny internet clip," very popular with teenagers.
  2. The name "Parental Mind Control" is enough to make anyone with parents stop and think twice.
  3. The added bonus phrase "No, really. It works" is a blatant lie, but because of its "straight-forward honesty," many people will think, "It does? How?" and click the link.
  4. It’s a clear example of viral marketing, combined with a sort of internet-age "reverse psychology" in which the ad company lies to you, you know they are lying, they know that you know they’re lying, but they lie anyway for "humor value."
  5. It’s built on the modern American teenager’s willing dependence on their parents, saying, "Use mind control, get a sweet computer." It might as well say, "Manipulate your parents and get them to buy you an expensive piece of equipment. It won’t cost you a dime! Who cares about how much it costs them?!"

The marketers behind this ad did a fantastic job of combining techniques and targeting their audience. I’d be interested to see how many computers they sell as a result of this ad. It occurs to me that I don’t even know who is selling the computer. The ad never says. But, I suppose that if I control my parents’ minds effectively, they’ll just know which computer to get me.

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