It’s less brainwashing and more miseducation.
If science tells you something, you can trust it because scientists have a method to their madness. They have control groups, and peer reviews, and statistics and probably a thousand ways to make sure the conclusions they draw are accurate.
Advertisements have no such procedures. They can rely on anecdotes and social proof. Folks in marketing don’t spend a billion dollars to conduct research on what facts they should use. That’s not the point.
The point in the marketing world is to make sales. the only metric advertisements are measured by, or should be measured by, is results.
Yes, they employ persuasion techniques. Yeah, they use psychological triggers to convince people. Sure, they motivate people to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do. But it’s not brainwashing.
Brainwashing implies that 1. there’s a negative effect and 2. you have no control.
Advertisements, even with all their psychology and persuasion tactics, don’t Jedi-mind-trick you into buying. When done right, they just show you what’s good about the product.
You have control over what advertisements you listen to.
In direct response marketing, the one field that actually measures the results of an advertisement, 97% of the people who get a direct response package don’t respond. They don’t buy. And that’s when the package is a success.
If there was any brainwashing going on, 97% failure rate would hardly be the benchmark for success. It’s laughable, really. If anyone in the marketing world had the secrets to brainwash an audience, the success rate would probably be the exact opposite of what it is.
Imagine this scenario: you’ve never had cake in your life. Somebody sends you a video of a bunch of gorgeous cakes and the reactions of people eating them. Right away, you’re going to want to try that new thing. Is that brainwashing? I think not.