11 2 / 2010
I just got an email from a frequent flyer program that started like this:
Did you know that since you joined e-Miles you’ve
missed hundreds of opportunities to earn miles in
Ah, yes, I believe right here they’re using an old advertising trick: Fill the customer with regret.
The technique of using regret to sell products has been around for several decades now. Its inventor, an ad executive named Jimmy Thurgood, marketed the technique itself with phrases like, “A sad man is a spendin’ man!” and “Why didn’t you think of this idea before me?”
Who can forget the regret-centric ads we’ve seen over the years? Like there’s that old Coke ad from the ’50s that said, “Think of all the Cokes you could have had,” with a black and white photo of an old woman staring out a window.
And let’s not forget that poster put out by the French Tourism Bureau in the 80s that had a photo of the Eiffel Tower and the slogan, “You’d enjoy Paris more if you were younger!” And in the foreground there’s this young couple walking along eating ice cream while these older guy looks at them from a bench and rubs ice on his bad knees.
Even today there’s that Match.com commercial where the voice over says, “Remember the one that got away? Maybe one of the women on here will kinda look like her.”
Yes, regret is truly the best way to engage potential customers.