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Advertising and Behavior Control Essay

In the article “Advertising and Behavior Control” there were many arguments for and against advertising. The first and the biggest problem Robert L. Arrington has against advertising is “puffery.” The reason/reasons why Arrington has a problem with puffery is due to the fact that the seller makes exaggerated, or suggestive claims about a product. His overall argument on puffery is that it isn’t just “bragging” but it is bragging that is designed to persuade you to want the item or product being sold. The bragging goes so far as they convince the viewer (of the advertisement) they need the product. Puffery ultimately leads to manipulation, exploitation, and control over what people think of the product.

Although Arrington has reasons against puffery, he also points out examples as to why puffery is good for advertising. As stated on page 284 “businesses just give the consumer what he/she wants; if they didn’t they wouldn’t stay in business very long. Proof that consumer wants the precuts advertised is given by the fact that he bus them, and indeed often returns to by them again and again.” Puffery ultimately leads to the customer purchasing the product. If puffery is not used then as Arrington states businesses would go out of business very quickly. Puffery is not the only argument for or against advertising Arrington had but definitely was is strongest one.

Another argument against advertising that Arrington had was credibility of an advertisement. He uses Philip Nelson’s ideas and theories to better explain his thoughts. His argument states that even when the message is not credible, we as a society give it validity by allowing ourselves to see the advertisement, and the fact that we constantly see them makes us believe that things are true.

Simply put as stated on page 285 “advertised frequently, is valuable indirect information for the consumer. The reason for this is that the brands advertised most are more likely to be better buys-“ Although the constant streaming of false or indirect information from advertisements makes us believe something that may be untrue, there is a counter argument as to why this form of advertising is legitimate, One of the counter arguments is in the form of a thought provoking question on page 285 “do the advertising techniques we have discussed involve a violation of human autonomy and a manipulation and control of consumer behavior, or do they simply provide an efficient and cost effective means of giving the consumer information on the basis of which he or she makes a free choice.” This may seem like a lot to grasp, but in essence the meaning of that thought provoking question is: is advertising information, or is advertising there for us to create wants and desires in our life?

These are just a couple of the arguments for and against advertising, and Arrington continues with many more thought provoking and legitimate arguments. All in all, Arrington makes claims for and against advertising, and eventually comes to the conclusion that he does not know what is right. If advertising is indeed good or bad as he says on page 289 “I do not pretend to have the answer. I only hope that the above discussion, in showing some of the kinds of harm that can be done by advertising and by indicating the likely limits of this harm, will put us in a better position to grapple with the question.”

In my own opinion I don’t think that advertising should be controlled anymore than it is now. My reason for thinking this way is because products are made to be sold and along with that products are also made for us (the customer) to use, and enjoy. If products weren’t marketed/advertised to the customer as enjoyable, or brings you a higher satisfaction in life what would be the point of any person buying the product? Sure puffery may seem like it is a scam by “extending the truth” but at the same time if you had the money, and the time, and the friends to live a life like a commercial then it is very well possible to achieve that fulfillment from a product. Unfortunately not everyone is capable of doing this, but a product that is advertised is always going to be represented better than it actually is, due to the fact it is there to make a profit, and to be sold.

My next point is the fact that advertisement falls into our liberties. We all have the right to freedom of speech. By advertising, or marketing one is free to say, promote, speak, etc. how they would like as long it is not in an offensive or demeaning way. This is why I believe there should be no more restrictions or limitations (if any) on advertising/marketing.

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