Emotional Manipulation Through Shared Imagery (It’s Easy!)

Claes Oldenburg

“I am for the art of ice cream cones dropped on concrete.” – Claes Oldenburg, Born Jan. 28, 1929.

This is our shared art also. The art of concise, visual imagery that evokes a reaction formed of personal emotions dredged from inside the audience, rather than from our words.

These reactions are more powerful than anything we can create, because they belong to the reader. And by coaxing them into injecting bits and pieces of themselves into our work, they take ownership of the tale. They accept their role and become part of the story that ends in purchase.


Staring through the darkness at the red numbers on a digital alarm clock, thinking of what will happen when sun lights the room in a few short hours.

A broken office chair in a gray cubicle under green fluorescent lights, and the smell of burnt popcorn. Again.

An attractive person is obviously talking to their companion about you. They giggle and glance and point without concern that you can see them doing it.

What feelings do those brief passages evoke if you picture yourself in them? Project yourself into each. What is your response to that scene?

These have no context – if you felt sad or anxious or happy or eager – you brought that out of your memories of feelings from being in or observing or hearing about a similar situation, imagined or in the actual past.

That is powerful. Because the brain has trouble telling the difference between a feeling, and the memory of a feeling. Sadness and remembering sadness are largely identical, in other words. Imagining a situation of excitement and eagerness will make you excited and eager, too.

Use with caution. Or not. I'm not a cop.

2 thoughts on “Emotional Manipulation Through Shared Imagery (It’s Easy!)”

  1. To be candid, you are indeed good at what you do.

    This particular piece is fabulous. Apart from Ben Settle, yours is one email I look forward to.

    It provides lots of ideas for copies, ads and email marketing too.

    Thank you 😊.

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