Here’s Why Ads That Celebrate Eating in Secret Work

Here’s Why Ads That Celebrate Eating in Secret Work

Chances are you’ve come across this scenario in a commercial: A woman, weary from the demands of modern life, finds a quiet place to recharge by indulging in a pint of ice cream or bag of chips. The moment she’s alone and able to pop off the lid or tear open the packaging, the exhaustion in her face quickly turns into contentment.

This guilty pleasure genre of advertising works, and a recent paper in the Journal of Consumer Research helps explain why. In eight separate studies, groups of women were prompted to think about eating certain food items in secret, whether by watching an ad encouraging the behavior or being instructed to imagine hiding food from others. Not only did the test participants rate the food items more favorably, but both groups were more likely to choose them—and willing to pay more for them, too.

Lead author Maria Rodas, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, explained that the main reason people find eating in secret, so enthralling is that hidden thoughts and desires tend to occupy the mind more than those out in the open for everyone to see.

“Because you’re suppressing this thought and don’t want to accidentally reveal it, it has this ironic effect that the more you want to keep something secret, you end up thinking more and more about it,” Rodas said. “Just by the fact that you’re trying to conceal your consumption, you end up thinking more and more about the consumer product.”

In other words, a personal rendezvous with your favorite pack of pudding is not so different from a romantic tryst….

“The reason why secret affairs are so compelling is because of the secret component,” Rodas said. “You just end up almost obsessing over the other person because it’s a secret.”….[Read More]

Roger Chiocchi

A life-long advertising and marketing professional, Roger is VP-Marketing at Signature Brand Factory. Prior to that he spent 20+ years on Madison Ave as a Sr. VP at Young & Rubicam and President of Y&R subsidiary, The Lord Group.



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