Advertizing’s 15 Basic Appeals (by Jib Fowles)

Do you stop and think about it before you purchase the latest (most fashionable) product on the market, or do you take time to decide if you really want something before you buy it?  Haven’t you ever wondered how advertisers get you to buy their product?  Hmm…well, advertisers are much more thoughtful than most people think.  Read the list of 15 basic appeals advertisers use and then post a paragraph telling me what you think about these appeals.   Think of commercials and products you’ve seen advertised, and tell me if you see advertisers drawing on these appeals. 

Advertising’s 15 Basic Appeals, by Jib Fowles
(from “Mass Advertising As  Social Forecast”)

  1. Need for sex– surprisingly, Fowles found that only 2 percent of the television ads, he surveyed used this appeal. It may be too blatant, he concluded, and often detracts from the product.
  2. Need for affiliation– the largest number of ads use this approach: you are looking for friendship? Advertisers can also use this negatively, to make you worry that you’ll lose friends if you don’t use a certain product.
  3. Need to nurture– every time you see a puppy or a kitten or a child, the appeal is to your paternal or maternal instincts.
  4. Need for guidance– a father or mother figure can appeal to your desire for someone to care for you, s you won’t have to worry. Betty Crocker is a good example.
  5. Need to aggress– we all have had a desire to get even, and some ads give you this satisfaction.
  6. Need to achieve– the ability to accomplish something difficult and succeed identifies the product with winning. Sports figures as spokespersons project this image.
  7. Need to dominate– the power we lack is what we can look for in a commercial “master the possibilities.”
  8. Need for prominence– we want to be admired and respected; to have high social status. Tasteful china and classic diamonds offer this potential.
  9. Need for attention– we want people to notice us; we want to be looked at. Cosmetics are a natural for this approach.
  10. Need for autonomy– within a crowded environment, we want to be singled out, to be a “breed apart.” This can also be used negatively: you may be left out if you don’t use a particular product
  11. Need to escape– flight is very appealing; you can imagine adventures you cannot have; the idea of escape is pleasurable
  12. Need to feel safe– to be free from threats, to be secure is the appeal of many insurance and bank ads
  13. Need for aesthetic sensations-beauty attracts us, and classic art or dance makes us feel creative, enhanced
  14. Need to satisfy curiosity-facts support our belief that information is quantifiable and numbers and diagrams make our choices seem scientific
  15.  Psychological needs– Fowles defines sex (item no.1) as a biological need, and so he classifies our need to sleep, eat, and drink in this category. Advertisers for juicy pizza are especially appealing late at night.

Source: Media Impact Introduction to Mass Media (4th Ed) Author: Shirley Biagi,  Wadsworth For a the complete articla go to:  OR

If you’d like, you can use this as a source for your essay #3 (if you’re writing about advertizing.)



  1. […] Jib Fowles’ 15 Appeals […]

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  3. jazmine417 said,

    After reading the 15 Basic Appeals I notice that yes it is true. Commercials tend to show us things that we do not need. It’s like they are trying to pursue us to go buy it. Half of the time we are all slaves into buying something that we saw on tv. People want to be the first into having something that no one has. It should not be this way. Sometimes people buy things because they make them feel good about themselves. Advertinzing in general has a way to influence society.

  4. catdog45 said,

    The 15 Basic Appeals is very raw, and very true. We may not notice at the time, but we are always being appealed by something. Whether its a person, place, or thing, we will have a natural desire to have it. As I am learning more and more about commercials, and different advertisement tricks it almost makes me mad that these people are so desperate to try and sell something. However at the same time I am happy that I am being informed about what is really going on, now when i watch that McDonalds commercial at midnight it will make me think twice. Nature versus nurture is very true, these appeals come naturally to our brain. We are programmed to like certain products, and to be turned on by a certain someone. Now its time to beat it before it beats you. Be informed so you can break the chain of a natural habit.

  5. casualdecay said,

    i am not surprised to seeing the sheet. Many people including myself purchase things they see in commercials. The commercial may exaggerate a particular situation and implement that by purchasing the product you will fix the problem. Secondly FUCK NEW WORLD ORDER!

  6. cruzedgar90 said,

    Commercials are really important because the product that they are promoting you probably don’t need it but because they make it seen so perfect we get drawn to that. They only show us what we want to see the good stuff and they are never going to tell us the bad things. They get their point across in their own way. When need to understand what’s good and what’s not.

  7. Fowles brings up many points that interested me. First, he talked about how we have a need to nurture and it reminded me about most of the antidepressant ads. It seems to me that most of them have animals in them to bring about a more type of nurture to the commercail and to show the lack of it. Next, the need for guidence reminded me of several commercals that had to do with the mother playing with her child or watching her child play and adding comfort if he gets hurt. The guidence reminded me of the neosporin commercials. In the commercail the mom’s pull out the neosporin and comes to the rescue when they hear there child yelp. Lastly, I was reminded about a commercal for a dance show and it made me want to get up and dance and feel artsy like they were. The commercal started with a beautiful girl and a strong man dancing the tango. Fowels would describe this as “Need for aesthetic sensations.” It was very clear to me to see the connections he made between these concepts.

  8. chantell said,

    This is very true, about costmetics and products that “we just need to have”! Commercials are very influential in our every day lifes, if you think about it everything we do has some kind of commercial. We watch T.V, the shows that we are watching have influence and advertisment. When we are not watching the show and commercials come on thats number one spot that we get attacked and manipulated into all these advertisements. But as much as we would like to think it will change and no one will ever influence us like that, its not going to happen we are in a world that lives off what’s in and what’s not. Thats just how we have been for many years and if we want to change its going to be very difficult because no one likes change.

  9. Sarai said,

    After reading this i realized what advertisers are trying to do. It has made it more clearer to me that they are trying to sell a product and appealing to the audience. Many times i have seen the little puppy adds that make your “maternal” instinct. Also what i have seen more and more is how sex sells although they dont have to be having sex they use sexual scenes to make you want to buy the product. I believe we are becoming more and more predictable and advertisers are trying to sell their product and will do whatever they can!

  10. nataly21805 said,

    I really do believe that advertisers look at this and try to get us to buy things. i was remembering when I was young and it was near Christmas, I would be watching televsion, a commercial would come up and I would be calling my mom over to tell her what I wanted. When she wasn’t around, I was making lists after lists. I wanted everything. I’m also realzing that advertising and promoting are EVERYWHERE! Even with our friends. It where you looking at, smelling, tasting, feeling. An example, if you really like your friends jacket, you try it on, perfect fit, it looks great on you, sold! you go to the mall and go buy the sameone for yourself. I see it everywhere i go and turn. I’ve seen commercials to get a new mattress to sleep better, if you have anxiety and are depressed, take these pills; for agress, guidance, affiliation, trying to fit in a crowd,etc. I feel as if the media is completely taking over our minds and our lives. Even thought if they are not trying to at all. But wouldn’t you say that the media is all for entertainment.????.. you be the judge….

  11. racosta843 said,

    Advertisements seem to always try to fulfill our needs, even when those needs aren’t even important. The top of the list mentions mainly the need for human interaction and it is a need that is clear throughout human history, the need for sex is instinctual and a basic primal need. The need for affiliation or the need for friends is basic, no one wants to be alone, and lastly nurture is important because everyone wants to feel like they are in control of the lives of something smaller than themselves. Curiosity is deffinitely a big one, our lives revolve around the question “what if?” and as it turns out many advertisements satisfy our questions and leave us thinking that the product shown is going to give us that ultimate satisfaction, whether it be sexual, psychological or just instinctual.

  12. bdavis009 said,

    After reading the 15 Basic appeals I realize that these are in almost all commercials on TV. Advertisers use these angles to get you to pay attention and to want a product they are selling or pitching to you. They use all the things we as humans try to look for and achieve. Like when it talks about affiliation, we see people having fun and a person having a lot of friends by using the product. It makes you think that you will gain friends or have the best time using their product. Also it makes you think that if you don’t use it you might be missing out on the enjoyment and your life will not be the same if you don’t try or use it. So with these appeals we can see how companies use them to get our attention and influence to use these products or believe in an idea.

  13. kari23 said,

    Yes, many advertisers use this kind of strategy to sell their product. All 15 of these basic appeals are used in the media and after reading this its made it clear to me what exactly their trying to do. They try to make us feel like our lives our missing something and their product is the answer to finally making us happy. I’ve seen commercials using these types of methods. Many succeed and sell their product well because people always are unhappy with what they have. They don’t appreciate what they have, so their sucked into these commercial strategies.

  14. jmora031 said,

    all of these other bloggers are completely right most of the \commercials we see on tv are just trying to make us see that we shud buy somethin or promoting sex they dont need to show that 2 us and especially the children of today let them grow up and when they eill get to it when they are ready

  15. moto315 said,

    These need for appeals are so true. You see this kind of stuff in commercials and on tv all the time. Sex is evrywhere in commercials. Like that Paris Hilton burger commercial. They are trying to appeal to the youger guy crowd to go buy there burger and im sure that it works. Like they say ” sex sells”. All these appeals do is brainwash you into believing what they say.

  16. maria0823 said,

    Know I can see how these and the commercials that we see on tv are much alike. With these products listed it convinces us to buy them and that they will actually work. A great example is cosmetics every girl wants to look flawless so therefore we are willing to buy anything. While all these new commercials are being made we keep on buying them and juist spending our money. Everyone should just be satisfied with what they have and just be happy,

  17. starryfire said,

    I find that these “Advertising’s 15 Basic Appeals” are true. The “Appeals” that I see the most are Need for Attention and Need for Autonomy. In an “Axe” shampoo comercial there were people dancing in a club, but then a hoarde of women pop out to wash a guy’s hair because he has dandruff. The commercial makes men think they’ll stand out and get attention now that they’ve use “Axe” shampoo. In many advertising commercials, companies always make their products seem like they will change a viewer’s whole life if they buy and use a certain product.

  18. After reading this blog i can see how commercials incorporate this appeals to attract people of all ages to buy. Sex is about the most common one i see on television. after that what snatches my attention is if the commercial is funny, for example i saw a commercial that was advertizing twix, in the commercial the husband is sitting on the coach while his wife has just put on new pants and she asks him,” Do this pants make my butt look big” so instead of saying the obvious he shoves a twix down his mouth and wnus whonsey tsheys losdjk gwsdo” trying to avoid a real awnser. overall i think that althought theses 15 appeals in commercials are used people are going to keep buying and companies are going to keep advertizing.

  19. aj102707 said,

    Advertising’s 15 Basic Appeals(by Jib Fowles)

    I find this very true dealing with commercials. As mentioned in NEED TO ACHIEVE usually a sports figure leads this role in commercials. I find this to be very true and automatically these sports figures come to mind. Michael Jordan, Shaq, T.O. or Terrel Owens. Also another one of these NEED FOR AUTONOMY, in the AXE commercials if you dont use axe products you wont get the girls in other words like the section says you will be singled out. in my opinion these all just seem like stereotypes, typical of america.

  20. et9118 said,

    Well I have to agree with the 15 most appealing things used for advertising. Obviously sex is #1 because the advertisers know it will sell, look at movies. Most rated Pg, Pg-13, and R movies have sex scenes, sexual interactions or something that is sex related. I think that when they stduy these types of appeals they look for what someone does or needs to feel satisfied, like to give desires and fantasies. The advertisers bring what they know will sell to people, to bring them money, and if it means to put sex on T.V., they will definatley do it.

  21. Gladys said,

    while reading all of these basic appeals i noticed that some of them are really true. we all need things in life. like attention love someone that cares about you. also there is other things that we do. we get mad at people when they do something to us. and what do we do we get back at them we have this rage towards them. these appeals are done over and over by many of us. we just got to live with it.

  22. Nakai said,

    After reading this, I can really make the connection between these and the commercials that are seen on television. All these listed above are basically bringing down the viewer in to buying to product to feel better about themselves, make them more popular, or make them feel more respected. In reality you don’t need products to feel this way about yourself, but it is the job of the sales person to get you to feel so down about yourself so you will buy all their products. It really is quite depressing when you think about it, we as Americans as a whole spend way too much money on our appearance and making our personal items bigger and better than anyone elses. No one should care if you have the newest clothes from Gucci or American Eagle, or if you have the newest Cadillac that just came off the showroom floor. In the end it should be about how happy you really are with your life and what you make of it, not how anyone makes you feel about yourself.

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