Advertising: Information tool, manipulation tool, or Beyond?
The impact of advertising in our society is a fiercely debated topic, and has been ever since its conception in its most basic form. Advertisers make their ads stand out by using humor, ongoing story lines, unexpected dialogue, unusual techniques, attention-getting spokespersons, or simply by repeating the ads so often that people can’t help but remember them. According to the majority advertising is a form of communication that typically attempts to inform or persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service. This is not a surprise, advertisements are everywhere. Society is so used to it that they just see it as a tool for letting others know about a product. The majority sees advertisement as an information tool. Unfortunately advertising doesn’t have that purpose anymore. According to Chuck Blore said: “Advertising is the art of arresting the human intelligence just long enough to get money from it”.
Just until the 1800’s advertising was an information tool, then it became a manipulation tool because of mass production during the industrial revolution. Everything stayed the same until the 21st century. This century had changed the whole concept of advertising, now advertising is something beyond information or manipulation. Advertising is a tool to create costumers (yes, create!). Now publicists create needs, preferences, beliefs, points of views, and everything they need to get money without measuring their acts. Advertisers are changing customers’ true desires instead of selling their products to the ones who needs them.
Advertisers create needs. Its not true that every time someone sees a Burger King ad he/she is hungry, its just part of the advertiser’s job. They make every ad incredibly appealing so that everyone who sees it believes that he needs a burger right away, or at least something to eat. Haven’t you noticed that those kinds of ads are always close enough to the respective restaurant, and it’s not just in the food business that advertisers create needs? They do it in every opportunity they have, such as apparels, technology, etc.
Advertisers create preferences. They build desires and preferences every
time they have to present a product that isn’t for everyone. Advertisers show products as unique and incredible. The costumers believe they need them right away. What advertisers do is create an image of a product that will make costumers buy it without thinking it twice; it will create such a huge desire for that product that costumers will feel the need for buying it even though it can be a product that they wouldn’t be interested before the ad.
Advertisers create beliefs and points of view. They do everything for achieve their selling goals; they don’t care about the costumer real desires. Advertising is in such a position that it can make costumers change the way they see themselves, the way they see others, and they way they feel about their lives. In this case there are examples such as all the commercials with models that make costumers feel insecure with their bodies (no matter the gender). Also ads that insist with the idea of getting thinner with machines or pills “without doing exercise” making costumers believe that everything works. Advertisers create perceived difference and make them feel that a particular product is different. Most of the time the difference is simply the audience the company wants to target.
Unfortunately one of the biggest consequences of abusive advertisement is that most of the advertisers are targeting kids affecting their way of thinking and all their interests. Kids fourteen and under spend an estimated $20 billion a year and influence purchases by parents, grandparents, and others to the tune of $200 billion a year. As a result, advertisers spend big bucks to reach kids: an estimated $800 million for programs alone. Experts say that children are particularly vulnerable to the persuasive effects of advertising, especially television commercials. “Kids are the most pure consumers you could have,” says Debra McMahon, a vice-president at Mercer Management Consulting. “They tend to interpret your ad literally. They are infinitely open.” The child as in-house salesperson is a powerful friend to advertisers. Because of this, some advertisers are very concerned with the society, because a lot of advertisers are just trying to sell the product without limits. They don’t think about the audience that can see their ads.
Advertising has become really intense during the past years. They are trying to sell their products or services without a limit, without respecting the costumers. It should be controlled, definitely. Advertising, too, should be held to the truth, as many people take it at face value and ingenuously believe all or most of what is said. That’s why there are associations promoting responsible advertising like the International Advertising Association (IAA) and Advertising Educational Foundation. Also there are advertising ethics that are being discussed, ethics that should be present when an ad comes out for the rest of the world.
Advertising should be more socially responsible, because advertising is just one of the most important social influences in a capitalistic economy, like ours. And using media as its vehicle is a pervasive, powerful force shaping attitudes and behavior in today’s world. As the media grows, the number of advertisements increases everyday and it plays a substantial role in people’s life because we are bombarded with thousands of advertising messages daily. The industry should concentrate more on the advertising ethics, and how to satisfy the consumers, instead of manipulating the consumer into buying their product, misinforming, tricking people for their own financial gain and creating negative social impacts.
Advertising must be truthful, not misleading, ambiguous, or make wrong factual claims that can get consumers to buy inferior products thinking these products can deliver more. Advertising should be creative, and who says you can’t direct your creative abilities towards projects that aim to do good? Advertising should be responsible, so that it helps to contribute a positive effect on our society and the environment. I do not wish to see advertising eliminated from the contemporary world, because it is an important element in today’s society, especially in the functioning of a market economy, which is becoming more and more widespread. I do wish that the world of advertising change and can be limited to be used as an information tool, not manipulation or “beyond that”, and hopefully in the future we’ll have the chance to see on magazines, billboards and TVs ethical and responsible ads, because as Chris Moore said once “Advertisers are in the business of communicating with thousands, even millions, of “others” all
the time. That gives us thousands or millions of chances to practice what we believe every day. And try to get it right”.
Day, Nancy. Advertising: Information or manipulation? Enslow Publisher, 1999. Scivicque, Christine. December de 2007. February de 2011.
Courtney from Study Moose
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