Money Photos: How and Why Advertising with Cash Works

money roll

A hoard of junk mail has passed through my in-box and into either the shredder, a pile for reuse, or straight into the recycle bin over the years. It wasn’t until recently, though, that I started noticing how photogenic money can be in the advertising. It looks good, it’s appealing, and it’s hard to throw away — at least without studying the picture first.

Money in advertising is a wonderful gimmie. I remember studying advertising in our health class — something to do with peer pressure — and all the different types there are: bandwagon advertising, celebrity advertising, but never once money advertising. “Grow your business!” “Save!,” “Lower interest rates!,” “Better Mortgage!” All these phrases complement the various piles of fresh Ben Franklins, either kind Abraham Lincolns, or round Eisenhowers. Whether they’re trying to nickel-and-dime me, woo me with wealth, or just plain bribe me, money is a beautiful advertising model.

I imagine stacks of money being crammed into deposit bags, or a fat wallet I’d have to put a rubber band around. I imagine counting stacks of coins or even cash in various stages of mitosis. In fact, the money ads catch my eye so well I read the advertisement. I believe I should admit I’ve been drawn into a sale by photographs of money, which, on a certain level doesn’t make sense, but only proves photos of money works on even the most frugal demographic.

The wondering about this phenomenon led me to analyze it and, just like in health class, reveal it as something that can be resisted.

  • First of all, many people rarely deal in cash that much, and if they do, it’s not the Benjamin Franklins that are being carried around. We’re talking ones, fives, tens and twenties. People usually get cash from ATMs, then quickly turn around and spend it. It’s quick and it’s fluid. We don’t call it liquid for no reason.
  • A photo of a bundle of cash neatly stacked with a band noting the denomination really only reflects the kind of money seen moving around from bank to bank, or between bad guys in the movies. Even the deposits and withdrawals I’d made for retail shops have mostly been in rubber bands.
  • Most times I’ve seen a hundred dollar bill, some one ended up making change out of it. Large bills don’t necessarily mean lots of money, just larger denominations, therefore fewer bills. I can pay my gas and electricity with a single bill, or with several. The amount is the same.
  • Large amounts of money next to “Save!” or some other motto suggests directly that I don’t have piles of money saved. It builds an insecurity. “My savings doesn’t look like that,” I’m supposed to think. I’m pretty comfortable with how my savings looks, which is certain sets of numbers on certain colors of paper from certain companies. Appealing to the cash perspective is supposed to be out of our comfort zone, and therefore make us think we’re missing something.
  • Heaps of money suggests power and prestige, and doesn’t everyone want that? The real side is, power and prestige comes little from how much cash you can have stashed in a single place at a time, but how much money you can have when the need arises. It’s sort of like the difference between richness and wealth. Rich people have a lot of money, wealthy people have a lot of resources.
  • Showing cash next to a logo is a type of branding. In other words, when you see that logo, you’ll think of cash, or even better (for them) when you see cash, you’ll think of them. The more appealing the photograph, the stronger the connection. When you need cash, or when you need that service, who will you think of? Exactly.

Money is beautiful. It is recognizable. It’s as desirable than a beautiful face, and more desirable than something you wish you could reach. Money can be owned by anyone, and money isn’t particular. It’s the basic tool of an economy. Anytime you want someone to think of any economical factor, show them money. As effective and as strong as the marketing campaigns of the image of cash, however, I’ll hold on tightly to my instincts and my education of advertising techniques. I’m pretty resistant to the wooing of a pretty picture of a twisted hundred dollar bill planted in starter tray with some seedlings. Or am I?

Image courtesy of zzzack

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2 Responses to Money Photos: How and Why Advertising with Cash Works

  1. toastyaroma says:

    when I see a heap or wad of money in an advertisement, I usually think one of the following:
    1. “too good to be true”
    2. over exaggerated
    3. get rich quick scam
    Same thing goes for leer jets, fast cars, and models with their feet propped up, “working” on a laptop in front of their beach front mansion. lol =P

  2. Kristian says:

    Cash is ubiquitous. As such if you can actually get someone to identify cash with your brand you have done a great thing.
    What scares me are the check cashing business I see popping up everywhere. Sounds like a very slippery slope.

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