Following commercials is trendy

Kansas City may have won the 2023 Super Bowl, but the commercials were a major bonding feature of that mid-February spectacle.

Cox, Sharon(s).jpg
Sharon Cox
Contributed / Sharon Cox

Label loyalty shows status … or not. Maybe displaying labels like a Nike billboard is no more than proving you are easily conned into spending money. Golfers at the Masters showed label loyalty to win additional financial support.

Kansas City may have won the 2023 Super Bowl, but the commercials were a major bonding feature of that mid-February spectacle. Monday morning talk may be about who won and which quarterback was better, and every football fan knows scores from years back. Some may even have on a team jersey for a week after. But even if nobody in the family is a sports-fan fan, just about anyone knows about the commercials aired on Super Bowl Sunday or even during March Madness. For anyone in advertising, it’s a given that commercials become memorable.

More from Sharon Cox

Advertising is all about the psychology of belonging. A T-shirt with a Coca-Cola logo, a pair of Air Jordans, a Vikings jacket all say the same thing: “I wear this label and that makes me a part of a big, powerful and popular team. I’m as good as you are, or maybe even better. “ Huh? Yep. We humans want to belong to socially prestigious teams and we’re willing to part with hard-earned cash in order to advertise for that team and show we are team players.

In college psychology classes, students learn the bottom line of convincing people they are not important until they belong to a particular group, team, family or movement. Students learn in order for people to part with their money, they have to be convinced there will be a positive result for doing so. Advertising agencies begin seeding news outlets with preliminary information that forecasts the need for some new research that tells people elements are missing from their lives. Soon after, a new brand of product comes out that satisfies what’s missing.

Free items with logos of that missing part enter the public domain, and every time people see the logo (image) they feel they are part of that big, smarter family, and as long as they brandish that logo, they “belong.”


In ad classes, every hand went up when students were asked if they wore a certain brand of shoes or drank a particular brand of drink or drove this or that vehicle. People want to be a part of a popular movement. Few want to be the oddball in the room. Advertisers count on the lemming concept when constructing an ad campaign.

When a 30-second commercial during Super Bowl costs multiple millions, knowing how marketing strategy works is the bottom line. Convincing ordinary people to talk about the ad and to buy the product requires repeat advertising. In other words, it’s up to the consumer to sell that brand in order to be part of a popular team.

CEOs of companies know word of mouth sells. Who would have believed that we humans would be walking sales boards for an employer or product that we have to buy in order for us to belong? As an advertising student, it was a smack in the face. For me to belong to some superficial group, I had to buy the product and wear it in crowds to prove I was as good as they? Ah-ha!! I realized how creating a need sells. By providing a solution to satisfy the need, I’d sell a product and earn money.

Marketing and psychology go hand-in-hand in advertising. Design, the department that makes up a logo, helps make the item memorable. Slogans are devised and music is written to make the ad more memorable. Then it’s repeat, repeat, repeat. Companies gain profits and we spend, spend, spend to be part of their team. And yet — some people remove labels. Hmmm. Well, that’s another story.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send it to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.

Sharon Cox retired in 2020 after 28 years at the University of Jamestown, including as department chair and professor of art.

What To Read Next
Get Local