Human Series: Made to Persuade

We think advertising is less persuasive now than it has ever been. To explore why and uncover how brands can relearn the art of persuasion, we brought together a panel of highly persuasive people and asked them for their tips. Here’s what we heard…



Advertising right now is saying ‘we get you’ rather than ‘we want you to get us’.

Our founder Trevor Beattie put it best; lots of today’s advertising simply shows an aspirational slice of modern life. It says, ‘we get you and your world’. What it fails to add is, ‘and this is why you should buy our product’. In short, we think today’s dominant persuasion strategy is simple association. And it’s got us asking…is putting your brand into the consumer’s world really enough to persuade them? Or is it just making lots of advertising look and sound the same?

“There’s been a big spate recently of the depiction of our world as we want it to be in ads. And that’s not essential for selling…it means, all ads are looking the same… Too many ads are the same slice of life.”
— Trevor Beattie, Founding Partner, BMB & Filmmaker



Persuasion is about making your audience want to believe


To persuade someone, you have to give them something to be persuaded by. It sounds simple, but without a rich narrative or an inspiring thought, you can’t hope to persuade. Because in the end, persuasion is all about seducing your audience into wanting to be persuaded. This is right at the heart of Oobah Butler’s approach to pranks. He creates compelling stories, with simple, thumb-stopping soundbites (like ‘London’s best rated restaurant is a shed in Dulwich’) that people are drawn to and actively want to believe.

“At The Shed in Dulwich, persuading people came down to everything from the mood menu, to the Gillette shaving cream “sea foam”. It’s all about building compelling stories so that people want to be persuaded”
— Oobah Butler, Presenter and Journalist



Persuasion is about trust


Vicky Gosling told us that her most successful negotiations, whether with army soldiers, executive boards or corporate sponsors, have been when she’s established ‘psychological safety’ and trust. It made us think; perhaps the key to building persuasive brands is doing the same? Building persuasive levels of trust might mean acknowledging the negatives your audience think about you, rather than trying to brush them under the carpet. It might mean showing the utmost confidence in your product and putting it to the acid test. Either way, establishing trust should be a top priority for any brand that wants to be more persuasive.

“You need to create that credibility and trust through being authentic and being inspiring, your doing strategy has to align with your influencing strategy, people have to believe that your a credible source” — Vicky Gosling, CEO, GB Snowsport



Persuasion is about the human condition


BMB’s long-standing agency belief is ‘the most human brand wins’. And when it comes to persuasion, we think this mantra is especially useful. The more human, insightful and relatable a brand can be in their approach to persuasion, the more successful they are likely to be. Don’t just show your audience their world, show them how your product makes a difference in it. 


“If you want to persuade people, you have to tap into the human condition…Most advertising now isn’t doing this. There’s some crying sometimes, but other emotions are available. Where’s the angst? Where’s the shock? Where’s the horror? Where’s the surprise?” — Trevor Beattie, Founding Partner, BMB & Filmmaker