I recently wrote about the insidious power of marketing, about how advertising is used to make you want, need, and buy Thneeds and Zizzer-Zoof Seeds, and all sorts of things you don’t really need.

During the past week I’ve found a couple sites that actually advocate advertising. They advocate advertising to yourself! Over the weekend, Lifehacker pointed to an article describing how to make a motivational collage. Yesterday Rock Hymas shared his thoughts on advertising to yourself.

But the site that I like best, and the one I found first, is Take Back Your Brain. Lynn Brem offers tips for how we can actively implement advertising techniques in order to pursue our goals:

I am not opposed to advertising per se. I believe it is neither good nor bad. Nor am I that interested in debating whether it influences us. I believe it does, but that doesn’t really matter. My gripe is with how much mind space it all consumes, and how distracting that is from other, quieter, deeply important agendas we may have for our own lives. TBYB is interested in taking back some of that mind space for ourselves.

Advertisers have spent billions of dollars developing and testing ways to influence us. There is no need to repeat that research; much of it is published and free for the taking. There are clues in many other human hacking systems as well — NLP, psychology, religion, propaganda, politics, and social engineering, to name a few.

TBYB’s strategy is simple:

  • Observe the techniques professionals use to persuade us.
  • Borrow any that seem useful.
  • Use those strategies to develop images and messages aimed at influencing ourselves.
  • Use personal technology to produce and deliver those messages.

We cannot stop the torrent of advertising streaming toward us every day. What we can do is make sure at least some of it is advocating for objectives we have chosen for ourselves.

There’s a more detailed introduction to the concept at the site, as well as a small but growing list of brainhacks. There’s the post-it note ad, the text message ad, the ad on your computer desktop, the screensaver ad. If you really want to get elaborate, there’s also more information about creating a motivational collage.

The goal here is to present yourself with ongoing “advertisements” that reflect your own personal goals. Want to fully-fund your Roth IRA this year? Use a desktop widget to keep tabs on your investments while reminding you of your goal. Saving for a vacation? Create a screen saver slideshow to constantly remind you of this goal. Working to pay off your credit cards? Hide some sticky-notes around the house with a big fat 0 on them.

I love the idea of advertising to yourself. It’s a brilliant concept. It’s not far removed from the success movement’s use of affirmations, but it takes a more savvy approach. Rather than simply repeating motivational phrases, you take it a step further by actually using powerful advertising techniques.

Finally, to prove my complex nature (or to demonstrate my moral hypocrisy, if you prefer), here’s a commercial I love:

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