Chapter 7


Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

—J.K. Rowling

ON THE TV screen, a red convertible whips by a man walking along the side of the road. The car stops and reverses back to the man, presumably to ask him if he needs a ride. The beautiful woman driving the convertible rolls down the window, lowers her sunglasses so you can see her eyes, and asks the man seductively, “Are those Levi’s jeans you are wearing?”

What red-blooded American male wouldn’t run out and buy a pair of Levi’s jeans after seeing that commercial? Equally, what woman wouldn’t envision herself as the main character in that ad—in control, asking the questions, treating the man as the sex object?

One of the major tenets of advertising has traditionally been an attempt to make consumers see themselves using the product and replacing the image of the person on the screen with themselves. The goal was to drive demand for the product through the influence of suggestion or role-play, with the marketer telling consumers exactly what they need to be sexy, powerful, or successful.

This concept of visualization is one of the main reasons realtors encourage you to stage your home when you’re trying to sell it. Once the buyer envisions himself or herself ...

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