November 8th, 2011

Everybody’s Trying to Sell You Something

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I love the smell of a brand-new magazine straight from the newsstand. The pages are crisp. It’s like you can smell the printing ink. But what’s that other smell? Oh, right; it’s the perfume advertisements that assault your senses before you even crack the spine of your brand-new Glamour magazine.

I keep a number of magazines at my desk for content inspiration and general reading pleasure. I picked one up the other day and started flipping through, only to discover that it took 50 whole pages to get to the table of contents.

That’s 50 pages of advertisements for clothing, jewelry, cars, liquor and who knows what else before I got to the actual magazine. And then I waded through several more pages before getting to the actual meat of the periodical.

It’s science.

I decided to conduct my own experiment on magazines. I wanted to know if I randomly opened my Glamour magazine 10 different times, how many of the pages I landed on are trying to sell me something. Let’s check out the results.

  1. Makeup ad. Definitely trying to sell me something. The reason I landed on this page so easily was because of the stiff pull-out sampler of foundations in varying shades of “skin.”
  2. Fashion spread. While not a direct advertisement, there was the lure of sales with names of upscale brands in the outfit descriptions.
  3. Hair feature. Again, not a direct ad. However, underneath a section on “the best ponytail for your head type” were several hair product recommendations with prices.
  4. Beauty spread. Similar to the hair feature, this spread recommended various makeup products alongside headshots of young models with perfectly Photoshopped skin.
  5. Feature story. One of the reasons I do like Glamour is for the feature stories about real-life women. This one was about a couple losing weight together. It didn’t try to sell me a thing.
  6. Fashion do’s and don’ts feature about grown-up rock tees. The implication that I should buy a rock tee (but only if it’s a “do”!) was certainly there. But this time, there weren’t any product or brand recommendations.
  7. Jewelry advertisement. Clearly, I need a gold chain-link bracelet. Stat.
  8. Skincare ad. And some skin-rejuvenating serum. I can feel the wrinkles forming just thinking about it.
  9. Feature on celebrities sporting the color pink. While not directly telling me to go out and buy a $300 pink cashmere sweater, there were more convenient text boxes informing me of where I could purchase said sweater.
  10. Contest announcement. Just a contest to win a $200 Amazon gift card by signing up for one of Glamour’s social networks. Not really trying to sell me anything. Wait. What page was that on again?

Perhaps my strategy is more Bunsen and Beaker than Einstein, but it still reveals an interesting observation. If you were keeping count, 80% of the pages were at least indirectly trying to sell me something.

Just say no.

Maybe you’re not so swayed by advertisements—or you may not think you are. Either way, how can you stand your ground and not give into that iPad ad? Try a few of these tactics to keep your spending in tow.

  • Make a “spend” list. Mine is clothing, which means I’m often tempted by sales ads when I’m surfing the web. I resist by keeping a list of specific, classic wardrobe articles I want to buy: a trench coat, equestrian-style boots, a chambray top, etc. Unless I find a good sale for something on my list, I’m not buying.
  • Use self-manipulation. When I’m out shopping and I have a little “slush money” to blow, I don’t want to waste it. If I make a seemingly frivolous purchase, I’ll force myself to put 50% of the cash value of the item into my savings account. If I can’t afford to do that, it’s not going home with me.
  • Save it up, automatically. I use SmartyPig, an online savings bank, to save up for something I really want. The automatic $25 withdrawal made from my bank account twice a month makes it easy to get to my goal.
  • Stay away from the temptation. Does window shopping tempt you to spend money you shouldn’t? Choose a different route home. Do magazine ads get your goat? Select different reading material.

Bottom Line: Choose your own line of defense against those who want you to buy, buy, buy. Only you can control your spending habits, so employ little strategies and flip past those advertisements, unfazed.

Have a Karmic day,

Bethy Hardeman, Social Media Maven

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.


  1. Thank you

    Gabriel rayam at 7:28 pm on June 25, 2013

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