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Hope Mongering

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The cynical use of inspiration or hope for the future as a marketing device. Applies to using the images of inspirational figures, speeches, and events, or simply just selling Unspecified Future Results Or Your Money Back.

Extra points for the above use if the product being sold has nothing to do with the figure being referenced, or is even contrary to his or her beliefs.

Hope Mongering can also apply to advertising for a product that shows optimal results, which often requires numerous unpleasant secondary requirements to the product: a commercial for a pyramid scheme will show the Ridiculously Average Guy with a convertible, a big house, and an attractive woman, not mentioning that to get that kind of money, you need to either hustle or do quasi-legal things, or both. As another example, weight loss or muscle gaining products will show (respectively) slender, shapely models and completely ripped muscle-men who have supposedly used their products, not (or barely, as required by law) mentioning the hard work, exercise, and modified diet that goes into physiques like those in addition to the product. If they can avoid suggesting that these results are not typical, they will. What they're selling is unrealistic hope.


This trope does not apply to the messages of politicians in general: This is not a venue for discussion over whether they believe their soaring rhetoric or not. This is about how these messages, and other temptations of a better tomorrow, are used by advertisers to make money.

See also We Care.



  • "Blue Hippo will sell you the computer you need to get the job you dream of, for only $20 a week." For 250 weeks!
  • ITT Tech: "I was stuck in a dead-end job until I got my degree from ITT Tech. Now I'm a systems analyst for [X company that sounds important]."
    • Similarly, National American University: "Get your degree, set yourself free, National American University!"
    • Basically, any daytime ad for advanced education is like this
  • Credit-repair companies: For a fee, they'll "fix" your poor credit so you can spend more money that you don't have.
  • Bowflex, an exercise machine in the United States: "You can get a body like this (incredibly sculpted, toned and rippling muscles) in only 20 minutes a day, three times a week." What they don't say is that if you aren't already in fairly good shape, you won't be able to do 20 minutes in a row on a Bowflex.
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  • Post Shredded Wheat has an ad which is both an inversion and example of this trope. It starts out with a spokesman speaking of how progress isn't always a good thing, and instead favoring Good Old Ways...of which their cereal is an example.
  • Andy Willoughby's Three Step Plan. "Hi! How in the world are you anyway? Are you tired of having too much month left at the end of the money?"
  • Apple's "Think Different" campaign, which featured archive footage of pretty much every popular public figure in recent history.
  • FinallyFast.Com and its derivatives. They advertise hope to fix a broken computer without telling the customer exactly how this is supposed to work.
  • Lotteries in general are advertised this way, playing on the hopes of being free not just from current debts, but any and all future expenses. It neglects to mention that this can only be done through smart investing, lest you end up even worse off than before.
    • A particularly tacky example: in the 1980s, the Illinois State lottery reportedly put ads in some of the poorest Chicago neighborhoods simply saying "This could be your way out."
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  • The National Mint (which is a commercial company and in no way associated with the U.S. Treasury) sells coins to commemorate special events, like the Freedom Tower being built where the World Trade Center used to be. These coins are always sold as "patriotic" mementos, and owning one isn't just owning a coin that has no real cash value, but it's owning a piece of history, so we'll never forget! No national tragedy is too powerfully painful for them to exploit.

Visual Novels

  • Discussed on the food run in Double Homework when the yacht stops on the island if the protagonist chooses Rachel to accompany him. Rachel suggests getting energy bars as part of their “meal,” but the protagonist points out that, as Rachel doubtlessly knows, these bars don’t really provide energy besides the stored energy of fat and sugar.

Real Life

  • The 2008 United States Presidential race was unique for a lot of different reasons, not the least of which was the largely-agreed-upon inspirational nature of the Democratic candidate. Barack Obama is the Trope Namer: "Hopemonger" was used in his stump speech as a way to characterize how his detractors might respond to his message.
    • Barack Obama was very successful with his branding, so much so that even during the campaign, car company Kia used an Obama lookalike in a commercial.
    • After the election, Pepsi even changed its logo to be similar to Obama's "Rainbow O" logo and started using ambiguous signage saying things like "Hope," without even saying anything about their product.
    • Ty Inc., makers of Beanie Babies, released two new dolls the week of January 20 named "Sweet Sasha" and "Marvelous Malia", Sasha and Malia being the names of President Obama's two daughters. They claim it was mere coincidence that these unusual doll names were released together the very same week the president took office.
      • One Ty Girlz exec responded to the accusation of Hope Mongering by saying something to the effect of, "Oh, no, these dolls have been in development since last November." What?
    • An enterpreneuring couple came up with a seemingly adorable idea during the campaign: The Sock Obama. Of course, because of the Unfortunate Implications of having a monkey, even a sock monkey, represent a black man, there was some controversy. They initially took the site down due to the backlash, but later gained some mysterious financial support and resumed business. There's a 50% chance it was White Supremacists having a grand vision of mocking Obama and 50% it was Obama who thinks that they're kinda adorable.
    • This real commercial for Chia Obama. Because nothing says, "I love America" more than a bust of the President with alfalfa sprouts growing out of his head.
    • There is a Chinese restaurant renamed "Obama" in Toronto, and there was a life size Obama cardboard cutout of Obama outside a hair salon advertising their cheap prices.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech would not fall under this trope, but Alcatel using that speech to promote its brand is, in fact, Hope Mongering. It is also about as close as you can get to blaspheming against the history of a country.