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Plain Folks Appeal in Advertising: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:05 What is the Plain…
  • 0:28 Plain Folks vs. Celebrities
  • 1:39 Examples of the Plain…
  • 3:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Johns

Ashley has taught college business courses and has a master's degree in management.

Have you ever considered what type of advertising makes the biggest impact? Is it the use of celebrities? Why not ordinary people? Does any of this make a difference? This lesson discusses the plain folks appeal in advertising and its impact.

What is the Plain Folks Appeal in Advertising?

The plain folks appeal is the use of ordinary people to promote a product or service. The goal is to show that the product or service is of appeal and value to everyone. Can you imagine if all the commercials had athletes and movie stars in them? Would you want to buy the products? It used to be thought that this made you purchase the product to be like these idols. This perception is changing.

Plain Folks vs. Celebrities

For a long time, companies mainly used famous people to promote their products and services. It made people feel like they fit in and did the right thing if they used what the celebrity used. Then people started catching on. The general public found out these people were paid to do the advertisements. Regulations were put in place that forced advertisers to run a disclaimer at the bottom of the advertisement saying these people were paid spokespersons. That brought the appeal down dramatically when it was found out your idol likely did not use the product but just wanted to make more money.

The question is, does anybody believe these celebrity endorsements anymore? Some consumers do. Companies still use them. However, now we are seeing more and more advertisements with the use of ordinary people. For example, a Cheerios commercial typically shows ordinary families sitting around the table eating breakfast. The commercial explains that dad has to eat his Cheerios to lower his cholesterol and prevent heart disease. While you're watching it you think, 'My doctor said my cholesterol was a little high. That family is just like mine, always concerned about health. Maybe I should give those Cheerios a try.' This is the plain folks appeal in advertising.

Examples of the Plain Folks Appeal

Now that you understand what the plain folks appeal is it's time to review a few examples.

We discussed before how the public is losing trust in the use of celebrities to advertise products. Now professional models are starting to feel the wrath as well. We've gone from idolizing the people on magazine covers to realizing those images just aren't realistic. Dove soap set out to show women and girls their true beauty. This company's Evolution commercial shows the transformation of a regular woman into a billboard model through the use of professional stylists and computer software. This campaign is successfully taking the plain folks appeal and increasing sales by relating to the customer.

Another example is a recent campaign from Extra Gum shows a father and daughter over the years. Each scene shows them chewing the gum and the father making her an origami bird from the wrapper. In this instance, the plain folks appeal is used to tug at the emotions of the consumer. Sales did not make a huge jump, but the video went viral and gave the company positive publicity.

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