Prof. Joseph Levine

Senior Psychiatrist




Conversation 51: Use of key characters [celebrities for example] in advertising from the point of view of the individual's internalized character board model

By Prof. Levine & Dr. Salganik

In our model, the self includes most of the components of the human soul. The model distinguishes between the "primary self", or the "initial self" which is in fact the basic biological core consisting of a number of innate structures and subject to increasing development during life, this self includes the instinctive emotional and cognitive parts of the person. The exact structure of the primary self and the relationships between its parts still require clarification [see previous conversations]. The primary self uses the memory stores and the abilities of cognition, emotion and more.

On the other hand, the "social self" [consisting of "secondary selves"] is built throughout life, and represents an epistructure that gradually develops from the primary self during the person's exposure to social influence, and consists of the internalization of figures significant to the person, originating from external groups or even imaginary groups (related , for example, to a story, a myth, a movie, etc.) which greatly influenced the person.

It is possible that this social self will also include the personification of objects and agencies most important to a person. We note here that only parts of the self are conscious, while other parts are not. Usually the person is not aware of the fact that the social self consists of influential internalized characters that dictate his attitudes and behavior and recognizes these as arising from his own will.

Below we will discuss the structure of the social self: it consists of "secondary selves" which include the following types: 1) the variety of representations of the "Me" that originate from attitudes and feelings towards the self and its representations at different periods in life 2] representations of internalized figures that originate from the significant figures that the person is exposed to during his life , but as mentioned there may also be imaginary characters represented in books, movies, etc. that had a great impact on the person. 3] internalized representations of "subculture" [subculture refers to social influences in the environment in which a person lives and are not necessarily related to a specific person].

AI-assisted illustration: The Board of Internalized Characters. The large figure expresses the internalized dictator-self

We refer to the social self metaphorically as the "directorate of characters" or more precisely the "directorate of internalized characters." We note that in this internalized board of directors there is usually a hierarchy in which there are more influential and dominant figures that we metaphorically called the "dictator-self or selves" and these figures set the tone and even censor and determine which content, attitudes and behaviors can be included in the board of directors. As mentioned, we will point out again that the person as a whole is not usually aware of the influence of the internalized character board and recognizes its influence as arising from his own desires and attitudes.

We will also note that, as a general rule, the board of directors is very dynamic and there are constant struggles and power relations between the internalized characters that make it up regarding the positions they will express, with the dictator-self or -selves usually dictating the tone.

This is how you can internalize various external characters that influence the person in the "directory of internalized characters", but we will emphasize again that usually the most important internalization is that of what we called the "dictator-self". Here it is about internalizing a character that has a great influence and shapes the person for good and/or bad, that has a great influence on the panel of internal characters that build the social self.

The dictator-self’s attitudes play a central role in making decisions about internalizing information and characters. He decides whether to reject the internalization or, if accepted, in what form it will be internalized. In other words, in a sense, we assume that this influential figure is also a form of internal censorship.

It should be emphasized that these are not concrete hypotheses regarding the presence of internalized figures in the inner world of the individual as a sort of "little people inside the brain", but rather in their representation in different brain areas whose nature and manner of representation still requires further research.

We will also note that although we call this character a "dictator", with the exception of a certain type, its characteristics are not the same as those of a dictatorial ruler in a certain country, but rather that this character is dominant and influential among the "characters’ board".

This model therefore holds that the social self consists of "internalized key figures [usually human], usually referring to the significant people in a person's life who have played a central role in shaping the individual's beliefs, values and self-concept. These figures may include family members, friends, mentors , teachers or any other influential person who left a lasting impression on the person. Sometimes, these will also include historical, literary and other figures who left a noticeable mark on the person and were internalized by him.

The term "internalized" implies that the influence of these key figures has been absorbed and integrated into the individual's thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. This internalization occurs through the process of observing, interacting with, and learning from these important people. As a result, the individual may adopt certain values, perspectives, and approaches to life that reflect those of the influential figures.

These internalized figures can serve as guiding forces in decision-making, moral thinking and emotional regulation. Positive influences can contribute to a person's well-being, security and resilience, while negative influences can lead to internal conflicts or challenges in personal development.

Advertising, the art of persuasion and promotion, has a rich and varied history spanning thousands of years. From the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt to the bustling digital landscape of the 21st century, advertising has evolved along with society, technology and human culture.

In historical perspective, we can see how advertising practices have adapted to changing social structures, communication technologies and psychological understandings, all while reflecting the complexity of the human psyche as described in the model presented above.

The roots of advertising lie in ancient cultures where symbols, images and oral communication were used to convey messages and promote products and services. In Mesopotamia, clay tablets from 2000 BCE contain some of the earliest known examples of written advertisements, promoting various products such as animals and goods. Similarly, in ancient Egypt, papyrus scrolls were used to advertise goods and services, showcasing the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of early cultures.

These early forms of advertising relied to a large extent on the basic instincts and needs of individuals, so the messages conveyed in these advertisements touched on primary desires on the one hand for food and shelter and on the other hand for social status, and mainly reflected the instincts in the primary self on the one hand [see above] alongside the rulers' representations in the secondary social self [see above] of the human soul.

During the Middle Ages, advertising took on new forms as trade routes expanded, cities flourished, and markets became bustling centers of commerce. Merchants and artisans used various tactics to attract customers, including signage, town calls, and word-of-mouth marketing. In this era, the social self played a role as individuals were exposed to a wider range of influences and interactions of leading figures within their communities.

The concept of internalized figures of the model came to the fore during this period, when people were influenced by the reputation, recommendations and connections formed with itinerant outsiders and local traders. These internalized characters played a significant role in shaping consumer preferences, attitudes and purchasing behaviors, establishing early foundations for brand loyalty and consumer trust.

The advent of printing in the mid-15th century revolutionized advertising by allowing mass production and distribution of printed materials. Brochures, posters and newspapers have evolved as popular means of advertising, allowing businesses to reach wider audiences and convey more detailed messages.

During this period, the composition of internalized characters in individuals' social selves continued to evolve as individuals were exposed to an increasing variety of external influences, including literary figures, political leaders, and cultural movements. Internalized figures expanded beyond immediate social circles to include prominent humanized personalities and symbols that influenced public opinion and collective identity.

The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries ushered in an era of rapid technological progress, urbanization and consumerism. Mass production, urbanization and the rise of consumer culture fueled the need for more sophisticated advertising techniques to promote products and services to increasingly diverse audiences. By the way, if we are talking about the use of celebrities in advertising [see below], it is interesting that in 1700, Wedgwood, manufacturers of fine china, used royal patronage as a marketing device to show value in society and promote their product [see Wikipedia].

Advertising agencies during this period developed as specialized entities whose job it is to design and distribute persuasive messages in a variety of media channels, including newspapers, magazines, radio in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and later television in the first half of the 20th century.

The onset of mass media marked a significant shift in the advertising landscape, with brands leveraging the power of stories, images and celebrity endorsements to capture consumers' attention and loyalty.

The proliferation of digital technology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries changed the face of advertising again, ushering in an era of personalized marketing, data analysis and targeted advertising. The internet, social media and mobile devices have revolutionized the way brands interact with consumers, offering new opportunities for interactive, immersive and personalized advertising experiences.

In this digital landscape, the model's social self-concept takes on new dimensions as individuals navigate virtual social networks, online communities, and digital identities. Embodied characters expand beyond physical interactions to include virtual influencers, online likes, and algorithmic recommendations that shape consumer preferences and behaviors in increasingly diverse ways.

By the way, if we are talking about the use of celebrities in advertising, in the 1930s the trend was towards athletes, as for example with his support in exchange for payment of Babe Ruth in Red Rock Cola. In 1945 the trend changed to movie stars. In 1965, when color television was introduced, TV anchors and entertainers became celebrity supporters. In the 1980s, companies began to make products around celebrities [see Wikipedia].

Throughout history, advertising has therefore been intrinsically linked to the complexities of human psychology, from the primal instincts and social influences of ancient cultures to the digital interactions and personalized experiences of a variety of characters including virtual ones in the modern era.

The model shown above therefore provides a framework for understanding the way in which advertising addresses both the instincts of the primary self, and the social self, the multitude of characters internalized in it, the external influences on it and its reactions to them.

As advertising continues to evolve in response to technological innovation, cultural changes and psychological insights, it remains a dynamic reflection of human desires, aspirations and social dynamics. By examining the history of advertising through the lens of the presented model, we can perhaps gain important insights into the enduring principles and practices that drive consumer behavior and shape the changing landscape of marketing and persuasion.

We will also note that throughout the generations, advertisers have continuously adapted their strategies in order to leverage psychological insights on human behavior, among other things as described in the model presented. Here are some key ways in which advertising has evolved to reflect and influence the complexity of the human psyche:

Appeal to Emotions: From the ancient symbols that evoke primal instincts to modern storytelling techniques with a variety of characters designed to evoke emotional responses, advertising has long recognized the power of human characters' emotions in shaping consumer attitudes and behaviors. Advertisers strategically utilize a variety of emotions, such as joy, fear, nostalgia and belonging often through characters to create deeper connections with audiences and increase engagement.

Social influence and conformity: The concept of the social self, with its variety of internalized characters and social influences, is central to understanding the role of social pressure, social norms and cultural values in advertising.

Advertisers often use social proof tactics, such as endorsements, user-generated content, and influencer marketing, to take advantage of the innate human tendency to conform to perceived group behavior and preferences.

Cognitive biases and persuasion techniques: Advertising utilizes various cognitive biases, heuristics and persuasion techniques using influential and well-known figures to shape consumer decision-making processes. From the scarcity principle and authority bias to the mere exposure and anchor effect, advertisers leverage psychological shortcuts and biases to influence perceptions, attitudes and purchase decisions.

Personalization and targeting: In the digital age, advances in data analysis and machine learning have allowed advertisers to personalize marketing messages and target specific audience segments with unprecedented precision, allowing for the composition of the board of characters and self-dictators in the segment of the population they are targeting.

By harnessing insights into individual preferences, behaviors and demographics, advertisers can deliver personalized experiences that resonate on a personal level. This can also be done while effectively leveraging the model's emphasis on the dynamic interactions within the social self.

Ethical considerations and consumer empowerment: As advertising techniques become more and more sophisticated, awareness of ethical considerations related to consumer privacy, consent and manipulation is increasing.

Thanks to access to information and digital platforms, consumers – depending on the composition of their board of internal characters and especially the self-dictators – demand from advertisers greater transparency, authenticity and responsibility, challenge traditional paradigms and reshape the dynamics of power and influence in the advertising ecosystem. Understanding the set of cultural internalized characters of individuals in society can help understanding these considerations.

In conclusion, the history of publication is a testament to the continuing relevance of psychological insights to human behavior, as elucidated by the model presented. Across all cultures, civilizations and technological eras, advertising has adapted and evolved to reflect the complexity of the human psyche, from primal instincts and social influences to cognitive biases and personal identities.

As advertisers continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of consumer preferences, technological innovations, and social dynamics, a deep understanding of human psychology remains essential to crafting compelling messages, cultivating meaningful relationships, and achieving positive results for both brands and consumers.

By embracing the nuances of the human psyche and responsibly leveraging psychological insights, advertisers can create more engaging, authentic and impactful advertising experiences that resonate with people on a deep level, shaping the future of advertising in a rapidly evolving world. Thus, understanding the array of internalized figures of the company details and the distribution of the types of board arrays of the internalized figures and dictator-selves in the consumer market seems essential to the action of advertisers.

Celebrity branding [see Wikipedia entry] or celebrity endorsement is a form of advertising campaign or marketing strategy that uses the fame or social status of a celebrity to promote a product, brand or service, or raise awareness of an issue.

As a general rule, a source (defined as a person or group intending to convey an idea, or a message to their target audience, also known as a sender) will be more effective in its goal of persuading consumers to purchase a product if the recipients perceive it as attractive, reliable and strong.

תמונה שמכילה לבוש, אדם, חיוך, פני אדםהתיאור נוצר באופן אוטומטי

Celebrity impersonation with AI

Celebrity branding can take a number of different forms, from a celebrity appearing in advertisements for a product, service or charity, to the celebrity participating in public relations events, creating their own line of products or services, or using their name as a brand. Related to this is the match-up hypothesis which generally suggests that the image of the product or brand endorsed by the celebrity should match the image of the celebrity in order to create an effective advertisement [see Wikipedia].

Consumers decipher the cultural codes embodied in celebrity images and actively identify personal, social and cultural meaning in these "idols". Therefore, this is why celebrity branding and endorsement through technology has increasingly become a dominant trend in media advertising.

This is how advertisements often use celebrity key figures. These connect and are represented in people's social selves [provided that they are accepted by the internal dictator – see above] as described in the presented model. Below we will detail how it works:

תמונה שמכילה לבוש, הנעלה, איש, אדםהתיאור נוצר באופן אוטומטי

Celebrity impersonation with AI

Internalized Figures: Celebrities often become internalized figures within the individual's social self. These are figures that may have a significant impact on a person's beliefs, values and self-concept. Celebrities, through their visibility and influence, become part of the social environment that shapes people. Thus celebrities are often imprinted and internalized within the individual's social self.

These figures may include actors, musicians, athletes or any other public figures who have a significant presence in the mainstream media. Through repeated exposure to these celebrities in various contexts such as movies, TV shows, social media and media, perceptions and opinions are consolidated.

Influence and Internalization: Advertisers leverage the influence of these celebrities to promote products or services. By associating a product with a known figure, they aim to connect to the internalization process described in the model. People may admire or aspire to be like these celebrities, and therefore, an endorsement of a product by them can influence purchase decisions.

By associating a celebrity with a brand, advertisers aim to transfer some of the positive attributes and feelings associated with the celebrity to the product. For example, if a beloved actress endorses a skin care product, consumers may unconsciously associate the product with attributes such as beauty, youth, and radiance.

This influence process works on many levels. First, there is the direct effect of the celebrity's image and reputation on consumers' perception of the product. Second, there is the psychological phenomenon of social proof, where people are more likely to adopt behaviors or beliefs that are endorsed by those they admire or respect. Finally, there is the emotional connection that people may feel towards a celebrity, which leads them to want to imitate or support their choices, in addition, if the celebrity rises in the internal hierarchy in the board of introverted figures, then his overall attitudes towards the product become significant to the individual.

Guiding forces: Internalized figures, including celebrities, can serve as guiding forces in decision-making and emotional regulation. When a celebrity endorses a product, their image and perceived attributes can influence how people perceive the product and whether they choose to buy it.

This influence extends beyond the mere recognition of the emotional and cognitive aspects of decision making. Internalized figures of celebrities, serve as guiding forces in decision-making processes. When people are faced with choices, they may consciously or unconsciously relate to the values, preferences, and behaviors associated with these characters.

For example, if a favorite musician is known for promoting environmental causes, his fans may be more inclined to purchase environmentally friendly products endorsed by that musician. Furthermore, celebrities are often used as role models, shaping not only consumer behavior but also attitudes and social norms. Their actions and sponsorships can influence social perceptions of what is desirable, fashionable or socially acceptable. This influence extends beyond mere product sponsorships to broader cultural and social issues.

Positive vs. Negative Effects: The impact of celebrity endorsements can vary depending on the individual's perception of the celebrity and the fit of the product with the values and beliefs associated with that celebrity. Positive associations can enhance a product's appeal, while negative associations can lead to skepticism or rejection. The impact of celebrity endorsements can be influenced by various factors, including the perceived authenticity of the endorsement, the fit of the celebrity's image with the product, and the credibility of the celebrity in the eyes of the target audience. The more positive these are, it seems that the internalized character of the celebrity will rise in the hierarchy of introverted characters in the board of directors and so will its influence. Positive associations between a celebrity and a product can enhance its appeal and credibility, leading to increased sales and brand loyalty.

In contrast, negative associations, such as scandals or controversies related to a celebrity, can reduce the effectiveness of sponsorships and even damage the reputation of the endorsed product or brand. The more negative these are, it seems that the introverted character of the celebrity will decrease in the hierarchy of introverted characters in the board of directors and so will its influence. Advertisers must carefully consider these factors when selecting celebrities for endorsements and monitor public sentiment to mitigate potential risks.

In conclusion, the advertisements leverage and aim to elevate the internalized characters of the celebrities on the board hierarchy of internalized characters within the individual's social self, in order to influence attitudes, behaviors and purchasing decisions. This process reflects the dynamic interplay between external influences and the internal landscape of the self, as described in the model.

Advertisements exploit the internalized characters within the social self of people, especially celebrities, to influence attitudes, behaviors and purchase decisions or alternatively encourage their internalization in the character board and their rise in the internal hierarchy. This influence works through various mechanisms, including the transmission of positive traits, social proof, emotional connections and the imitation effect. However, the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements depends on factors such as authenticity, relevance and credibility, which advertisers must carefully navigate to maximize impact.

Here are three examples that illustrate how advertisements leverage internalized figures, especially celebrities, to influence consumer behavior:

Athlete Sponsorships: A sportswear brand looking to promote its latest line of running shoes. decides to recruit a popular professional athlete, known for his exceptional performance and dedication to fitness, as the face of their campaign. Through television commercials, posts on social networks and billboard advertisements showing the athlete wearing the shoes during intense training, the brand aims to convey qualities such as athleticism, determination and success of this character and to increase its internalization into the board of characters and gradually raise it in its hierarchy and thus also its influence on the individual.

This endorsement strategy takes advantage of the internalization of the athlete's image and values by consumers who admire his achievements and aspire to emulate his active lifestyle.

The connection with the athlete not only improves the perceived performance and quality of the shoes, but also inspires consumers to feel confident and motivated in their fitness endeavors.

Celebrity Perfume Endorsements: Imagine a luxury perfume brand launching a new perfume aimed at young, cutting-edge consumers. To appeal to their target audience, the brand collaborates with a popular actress and fashion icon known for her sophisticated style and influence on trends. Through visually stunning advertisements that feature the actress exuding elegance and allure while exposed to the scent of the perfume.

The brand seeks to evoke feelings of glamour, sophistication and desire. By leveraging the internalized image of the actress' character as a symbol of beauty and sophistication, the perfume brand creates a strong emotional connection with consumers who aspire to embody similar qualities. The endorsement not only increases the perceived value and prestige of the perfume, but also connects to consumers' desires to improve their sense of style and allure.

Celebrity Chef Cooking Appliances: Imagine a kitchen appliance company launching a new line of luxury cooking appliances designed for gourmet home chefs. To showcase the versatility and performance of their products, they partner with a celebrity chef known for his culinary expertise and innovative and perhaps sensual approach to cooking. Through televised cooking demonstrations, online recipe videos and in-store appearances by the chef, the brand aims to highlight the superior features and capabilities of their appliances.

By associating their products with the celebrity chef's expertise and endorsement, the kitchen appliance company not only increases the perceived quality and credibility of their offerings, but also inspires consumers to elevate their culinary skills and experiences.

The endorsement leverages the admiration and trust in the internalized character of the chef, and gradually tries to raise him in the hierarchy of the internalized characters of the consumers, and positions the brand as a reliable partner in their culinary journey.

In each of these examples, advertisements strategically utilize the influence of internalized figures, such as athletes, actresses, and chefs, and their acceptance by the target audience's dictator-selves, to shape consumer perceptions, evoke emotions, and drive purchase decisions. By aligning their products with the values, aspirations, and lifestyles associated with these celebrities' internalized personas, advertisers thus effectively connect with consumers' social selves, influencing their attitudes and behaviors toward the promoted products.

We note again that all of the above regarding the internalization of the influential figures in the board of directors to the internalized figures requires the consent and acceptance of the dictator-self. And it seems that in the event that celebrity figures, their positions and personalities are far from the positions of internalized dictatorial figures, they will not be internalized into the board of directors and their influence will not be manifested.

Of interest in this context is the article from 2022 by Lee Taylor, CEO of the marketing agency Uncommon Sense.

"This is all about selling products by associating your brand with progressive causes. It is called purpose-driven advertising and it is becoming a preoccupation with marketing departments everywhere. They are obsessed with public virtue-signalling at the expense of focusing on the fundamentals…

Marketing is there to drive awareness, understanding and sales of products. It does this best when it can get into the mind of the customer – really understand them – and then articulate the right message, at the right time, in the right context…” [or us the board of internalized characters and internal dictators that reflect the customer's social self]

"When designing the creative execution, the customer must be able to see themselves (usually tapping into their aspirations). They need to feel an affinity with the product, and this includes the people advertising it. Why then has the advertising industry decided that all ads must be full of minorities rather than the majority of the population? Adverts are currently over-representing black, gay and transgender people. Why? Nearly 8% of people in the UK identify as Asian, so why are Asians so strikingly underrepresented in ads? Then we have the fact that white people make up over 86% of the population, and yet make up a far lower percentage of the characters in ads.”

“In 2017 we saw Kendall Jenner and Pepsi produce the 'Join the Movement' campaign that used images associated with the Women's March and BLM protests – and this time consumers weren't so impressed. The resulting backlash forced the adverts to be withdrawn.

Then we have Colin Kaepernick – fresh from kneeling for the national anthem. He fronted a Nike campaign which involved the training-shoe manufacturer urging us to: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Again, some consumers were put off and burned their Nike products in videos on YouTube.

Then came the infamous Gillette ad which told men they were toxic. In less than two minutes they managed to alienate huge swathes of their customers."

Thus it seems to be important for the characteristics and attitudes of the character in the advertisement to be transmitted to the customer the way that it will be accepted by his dictator-self [who will not censor it] and that the individual can identify with it, feel that it represents him and internalize it as an influential figure in the board of internalized characters.

That's it for now,


Dr. Igor Salganik and Prof. Joseph Levin

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