The Stockholm syndrome of advertising | Jacob Östberg | TEDxStockholm

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As consumers we are all, more or less unconsciously, constantly influenced by marketing and advertising. Therefore we need to scrutinize market communications and brands way more seriously. They are replacing and gaining influence as symbols of culture and tradition, and are as bearers of ideals telling us how to reach our true potential as human beings.

Jacob Östberg is a professor of Advertising & PR at Stockholm University School of Business. Upon earning his PhD at Lund University, his thesis was awarded the Academia Gastronomica Scaniensis research prize. He has since taught at the Business Schools at Lund and Stockholm University, and was a visiting scholar at the Bìlkent University in Ankara, Turkey. He then broadened his scope by taking a position at The Centre for Fashion Studies at the Faculty of the Humanities, Stockholm University. He has since earned a docentship in Fashion Studies and subsequently returned to his initial calling in Marketing.

Jacob’s studies focus on symbolic dimensions of consumption. He is interested in how individuals in consumer society create meaning and value through consumption and how brands are filled with meaning in the intersection of popular culture, marketing and consumers’ lived lives.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


Artema Startups Accountants Hampshire Dorset says:

Great insight. Thanks for sharing!

Mighty Gorge says:

oh so this isn't TED it's TEDx where you can just tell anything whitout any proof

Keith Richard says:

Jacob Östberg is on point in describing the consumer market today but leaves out that almost all advertising is done using TV series, movies and games by selling a desirable personalty or superior representation of the watcher with an image, reaching a broad spectrum of target markets thru different genres. Or in the case of popular TV shows and games, each spectrum of the prominent desirable representation of a character will be represented in a sanitized setting with unrealistic expectations of individuals in society being portrayed leaving the watchers feeling insignificant in their present state of being.

I agree that people feel incomplete because it feels imposable for them to make an impact in there world, so to feel better they pretend and fashion themselves as someone who (they are led to believe) can make a better impact in the world. This way they feel elevated in the social hierarchy and don't feel unworthy of attention, love or to be desired.

They also look for these characters and settings in finding a mate leading to mass delusion of the world in which they live because the world they observe has being alternated in production and then portrayed by and through the media to the watchers. In my opinion, this method can be called soft brain washing using human nature as a weapon against individuals in mass manipulation by mass media to consume in order to portray the marketed and promoted way of life.

In this method of advertising the loved role models or superior representation of the individual watching also express views that the impersonator will adopt unknowingly in order to fulfill there representation of there desired character or most lightly, a superior representation of themselves.

This is the definition of brain washing. Changing the thoughts and beliefs of another person without the person being aware.

So the media is a strong force and Jacob Östberg is right in saying that people should have some tools to deal with the negative effect it can have.

untrue says:

the stockholm syndrome analogy is on point!
really enjoyed this talk, I have been thinking about this topic for a while now. it is nice to see it being addressed on TED

Kayla Negron says:

This is one reasons why people like icons and celebrity's will never be satisfied with life and will always feel like they are missing a part of themselves or wind up crashing and "burning" so to speak… "Beyond the lights" is a perfect visual example… Its whats inside that matters nothing more nothing less and if you can't be content with who you are maybe your looking at the picture of success and happiness in and of life in an unappealing way…

Kayla Negron says:

And my mom wonders why I'm not like other kids my age wanting name brand clothes… I don't want to be defined with labels…nor do I want to be categorized in any other way..I just want to see myself for who I am and that is a capable and intelligent INDIVIDUAL

Ryan Alster says:

Excellent talk. Wish more people paid attention to the message.


Marketing strategies are based on the premise That Man is a creature in need and will never find ultimate satisfaction. We need to be deceived . Without Realizing it , we are part of a show, of the society of spectacle.

pricklyphlox says:

Advertising teachers clearly state you can buy people's attention, just not an individual's attention.

Ron Skurat says:

read Veblen

Lisa Tibbitts says:

This is absolutely brilliant. Psychologists are used to manipulate the publiic by pressing just the right emotional and intellectual buttons. They want to at once shame us and then provide the solution. One example. McDonalds is brilliant at this. The poster of the cheesy big mac staring you in the face says, "What you want when you order a salad," is just quippy, right? No. It is meant to make you feel deprived. Anyone who has tried hard to deny themselves unhealthy, greasy foods knows that dieting is hard because a person feels deprived. Deprivation is a strong psychological emotion. And the ad works. That is just one example. The skinny happy families scarfing down burgers is the in-your-face, idea that if you feed your families fast food and get fat you are at fault, see many skinny happy people eat fast food and are fine, you are the exception, using shame to make you miserable, making you feel helpless, and then providing the solution. Have a big mac. Don't be deprived. Millions have been served and they love it!

kinggeorgewashington says:

My friend who is  a stud, refused to wear designer athletic wear. He said why pay for an overpriced shirt so I can advertise for the company?

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