One way of exerting influence is realized by the use of language. According to the communicative intention of the influencer, the thoroughly designed strategic discourse can be either persuasive or manipulative. First, the present research separates persuasion from manipulation in an interdisciplinary - pragmatic and social psychological - framework. Four possible types of manipulation are identified in the paper: (i) withholding certain propositions, (ii) informing without ostensive communicative intention to the intended addressee, (iii) using linguistically and logically correct elements that force an unconditional and unquestioning agreement and (iv) using fallacious argumentation. The second part of the paper investigates how persuasion and manipulation work in written advertisements in Hungarian, what kind of strategies and linguistic tools are used to influence readers. A Hungarian and an American direct mail are analyzed to see whether the identified Hungarian strategies exist in English or they are language-specific. It is argued that they work in English as well.