Research Paper “The pervasiveness of contemporary advertising means that almost everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with appeals to buy-mostly under the guise of persuading us that buying will somehow improve our lives. ” (Courtland L. Bovee and Williams F. Arens, Page 685). Fundamentally a good advert should attract attention and interest and should provide some control over the manner in which it is read. Advertising has been used to promote goods and services from 1945 to today and controls consumers’ behavior and habits. Considering the thesis, we could choose to agree with the fact that advertising manipulates consumers.
This kind of marketing is essential for firms that want to show their superiority in a specific category of markets. People can see every day many adverts that encourage them to buy more and more goods or services. It makes consumers too materialistic and manipulates them psychologically to buy things they don’t need. Advertising promotes the consumption society. Obviously, many would agree that advertisers use tricky means in order to attract consumers’ attention. Moreover, not all parts of society are targeted. It can create problems considering children, ethnicities, religions and other criteria that affect population.
There is already enough research that proves how harmful advertising can be. In fact, manipulating people psychologically causes harm. In the long run, it can develop a habit like it is in the United States. People using adverts don’t care about consequences and behave inappropriately. Some incitements, misleading, and minds’ control lead to what is called subliminal stimuli. By the way, advertising is maintaining competition between firms and as a consequence, it encourages innovation. Socially, advertising is considered as harmful but economically, it represents one of the main factors of innovation and technological progress.
This paper will show why and how the use of advertising has tremendously increased from 1945 to today. Then, we will show that advertisers use many efficient means of controlling people’s behavior and habits. Finally, we will argue that the effects of advertising can be harmful for populations and economies among a society. Considering that it seems dangerous and manipulative, we can point out that it is a huge source of information. It allows consumers to stay informed about new alternatives in their daily life. Moreover, some people think that this is better to buy products that were advertised than products unadvertised.
After World War II, many countries that have been concerned by the conflict had to re-build what was destroyed. The most affected by such a war was the moral of populations. Advertising already existed but it began a means of showing that life can continue without trouble. We might have seen this tendency in the United States first. In fact, many advertising campaigns had the aim to show solid families even if they have lost a brother, a father or a friend in Europe or in Asia. Companies have understood that such a disaster can be used to promote goods or services they propose to citizens.
Then, the globalization of television in the 1940’s helped the development of the use of advertising. Such a means of communication is essential. Adverts might already have been seen in newspapers, billboards or on broadsides but never on a screen. Traditionally, companies already used paper-based supports to show a short preview about new products or innovations and a slogan. Following that tendency, this is the beginning of the consumption society. Advertising encourages people to buy more and more goods. On the long run, it creates a way of thinking that develops an addiction.
Commercials for Coca Cola are one of the best examples that affect the overall society. Drinking Coke improves citizens’ daily life because it gets satisfaction. “It has a taste that’s uniquely satisfying – a quality that’s unmistakable” (Fowles, Jib. Page 725). Another example is the place of women in society. They are targets of advertisers who promote goods that ensure an easier family life. “In terms of products represented, ads that illustrate this period concern mainly cigarettes, alcohol (beer and liquor), automobiles, food and drink, household cleaners, lotions and perfumes. ” (Fowles, Jib. Page 691).
The example of Camels cigarettes illustrates the situation (Fowles, Jib. Page 693). In 1947, advertisers pointed out the fact that doctors smoked more Camels cigarettes than other brands. Population will think this is not so harmful for their health and will buy more Camel cigarettes. The United States of America were a rich country before World War II. At the end of the conflict, it was clear that it was the richest country. This economic situation has encouraged the development of advertising. Each time there is a progress in a sector of the industry, advertisers improve their means of attracting people.
At the beginning, it was only on paper-based supports with drawings. In 1951, it was the birth of television in color. The broadcast of public programs has considerably increased the audience and as a consequence, the impact of advertising. In addition, the economic period was favorable and many people might buy goods and services such as cars or household cleaners. On one hand, the video support allows consumers to be better informed but on the other hand, it encourages them to buy things they don’t need. According to a survey of the Census Bureau in the USA in the 1990’s, 98% of the American households owned one TV set. Census Bureau) In the 1980’s, the appearance of the Internet highlights a new period of advertising. Populations using this new technology of information are constantly confronted to adverts. “In 1994, Hot-wired site launches with the first banner adds from AT&T, Sprint, MCI, Volvo and others” (Tungate, Mark). It was only a small part of the total advertising market but it increased at the same time the use of this new tool increased. The number of advertising agencies has considerably increased. There are more and more companies that use adverts to show their catalogue on paper, on buildings, on television and on the Internet.
It is clear that, today, advertising is an essential part of the budget of businesses. Considering such a use of that tool, many people consider that advertisers make commercials in order to control consumers’ behavior and habits. “Advertising is the art of arresting the human intelligence just long enough to get money from it” (Blore, Chuck in Shah, Anup). The second subject that this paper will illustrate is to show that controlling consumers by the means of advertising is a today’s debate. In fact, advertisers are able to use tricky methods in order to attract people’s attention. However, as the year progressed, the sophistication of advertising methods and technics has advanced, enticing and shaping and even creating consumerism and needs where there has been none before, or turning luxuries into necessities” (Shah, Anup). Households are controlled against their will. When they are confronted to advertising, they are persuaded that they have to buy the product of one company. Everyone faces persuasion. We can see it in every street, in the cinema, on television, on Internet… Advertisers give arguments based on populations’ daily life and use them to prove the benefits of a good or a service.
If some people are always busy, there can be a good that helps them to be better organized. The advert will show that such a situation can be improved just by buying a particular product, produced by a particular company. This is the basis of persuasion. Following that, there are many methods that can be used to promote and sell. “Sometimes the simple facts of our case are overwhelmingly persuasive. Other times we appeal to some need or motive of our listener because the facts alone aren’t persuasive enough” (Bovee, Courtland L. , Arens, William F. Page 687).
Although the persuasion is not enough efficient, it is clear that the emotional appeals are the best way to force consumers’ to buy. Such a means of attracting people depends on the targets. Luxury brands will use arguments that attract consumers earning a lot of money. They display elements of a rich individual’s life and the fact that the product or the service was made for him. On the contrary, if the advert concerns the middle-class, it will be adapted to the “condition” of those people. In fact, this is also the case of consumers that do not need to put forward their income. There are advertising sponsors at both ends of that spectrum. Food companies offer natural products as well as convenience packaged goods. Shoe companies offer simple sandals as well as formal footwear” (Bovee, Courtland L. , Arens, William F. Page 687). This is why heroes are put forward in adverts. An individual who practices a sport and sees that his idol uses a specific product will encourage him to buy it. In the case of prevention, emotional appeals are the most adapted. Government uses this means to make people aware of what is dangerous.
In order to reduce road traffic accidents, a commercial that shocks the audience appeals to fear. Consequences of such an advert will be more attention from drivers and fewer accidents on the road. We can’t explain how advertisers manipulate individuals without talking about subliminal stimuli. This means of controlling consumers’ behavior and habits is the most concealed because not everyone can perceive it. As a matter of fact, it is possible that not only individuals but also groups of individuals are controlled without their awareness. It changes their habits because they do things they usually would ot do. We can determine that there are two ways to attempt an auditory. First, it touches the unconscious part of our brain. When people are reading a slogan or a sentence linked to an idea, several words are dissimulated and manipulate people by the language. It is clear that subliminal stimuli concerns the five censes. Consumers’ can hear, smell, touch things and be attracted. All of these criteria are strategically placed in order to have the maximum impact of perceptions. We take the example of a family that is shopping in a mall, they can see and hear promotions on products they didn’t intent to buy.
Advertisers point out the fact that this is useful and essential. As the author William Cane pointed out: “Public concern about subliminal manipulation can be seen in 1957 when a marketing researcher looked into statistical data. James Vicary claimed to find dramatic increases in the sales of Coca-Cola and popcorn when he flashed the phrases “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat popcorn” for 1/2000 of a second during a movie. The statistics showed an increase in popcorn sales by 58%, with an increase in Coca Cola sales by 18%. -Cola sales by 18%” (Cane, William.
Umich. edu). Subliminal stimuli is used each time companies or politics want to control individuals against their will. Alternatively, advertisers can use sexual stimulants that influence individuals to buy. It is not difficult to determine what consumers need. Their fears are one of those determinants as well as their lack of self-confidence. Heroes can be put forward to prove that such a product can improve our everyday life. Movie stars are an example. People who have problems with their hair tend to buy lotions that a star uses.
We know that adverts are created in such a way as to control consumers’ behavior and habits. Advertisers employed by companies manipulate people psychologically and force to buy things they don’t usually need. The last part of this paper will deals with consequences of control and manipulation not only on individuals but also on economies. Finally, there are many consequences not only on individuals but also on economies. Manipulation and control through advertising can lead to critical effects on targeted consumers. In fact, there are different categories of eople in a society while the reaction is not the same in front of adverts. This is what we will demonstrate. First, one of the consequences of advertising campaigns is that it “makes us too materialistic” (Bovee, Courtland L. and Arens, William F. Page 686). It changes the value of every system and encourages the development of the consumption society. The acquisition of a product or using a service can change our daily life. With this idea, individuals are forced to think that buying more and more goods will make them more important. USA is the best example of such a situation. For example, they point out the fact that millions of Americans own 20 or more pairs of shoes, several TV sets, and often more than one vehicle” (Bovee, Courtland L. and Arens, William F. Page 686). Advertisers are looking for happiness linked with materialism. Companies don’t care about culture or improvements of the overall behavior of populations. The only thing that interests them is to sell. Finally, this materialism creates a cultural gap. It encourages the division of societies and creates conflicts. Then, there are questions about interferences with ethnicities.
It is often the case in the USA and in every country where advertising is present. Advertisers use criteria such as the gender, the skin color, the social condition, or historical facts. In a country where there is a “melting pot”, it is considered as discrimination. We can say that commercials perpetuate stereotypes. As an example, when an advert targets women, it has been adapted realistically because they take an important place in purchasing decisions. Even if there are improvements, there are still “bias and sexism in advertising” (Bovee, Courtland L. and Arens, William F. Page 689).
Manipulation of children and teenagers through advertising can be critical. The possible harmful effects on both of these age ranges are significant. First, it is important to point out the fact that they are the most vulnerable and suggestible. When they are watching television, even if this is a program adapted to their age, commercials that are not adapted are broadcast and can influence them negatively. In the article “Advertising: Information or Manipulation” written by DeRego Makenzie, she is telling her experience with the effects of several adverts on children’s minds: “As an example, I was babysitting.
My friend and I were watching her favorite show on Disney Channel: Hannah Montana. A commercial came on, and I stared at the screen in shock; in between two segments of a children’s show, there was a commercial advertising Enzyte! I knew this could not be appropriate, and when she asked me what it was, I was dumbfounded. How was I supposed to answer that? Furthermore, children by the age of seven are exposed to commercials like these at least twenty thousand times. ” Such a testimony confirms that advertisers don’t care about consequences of commercials if vulnerable minds are watching them.
Regarding teenagers, this is more a problem with cigarettes and alcohol. They are more and more smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Advertising is a factor of this tendency. It is clear that alcohol ads on television have been multiplied in the last few years. This is what is shown by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. One of their studies confirms that the top fifteen programs in 2003 had alcohol in their ads. Due to advertising’s influence on populations, there are economic consequences not only on individuals but also on companies.
Consumers buy goods while the price is not always affordable. The fact that advertising encourages them to spend more and more money leads to economic problems. First, it forces them to borrow money from banks. On the short run, they can pay what they want but on the long run, many people can’t refund. Such a situation breaks the stability of families and of the overall economy. In the case of companies, they spend billions of dollars in adverts. It creates a competition between firms that many of them can’t assume. A company with a huge turnover will spend more on advertising than a modest business.
Consequences will be that these modest businesses will shutdown because of the lack of customers willing to visit malls or any other huge business. We currently live in a profit-driven society. Individuals are constantly bombarded of adverts from companies, from the government or from any other institution that wishes to sell goods and services. To attract people, advertisers use tricky means and control consumers’ behavior and habits. What is often not shown is the impact of those methods. The aim is to encourage us to buy more and more against our awareness.
Additionally, it maintains the idea of the consumption society and may cause economic problems for the large-scale. Following surveys, it affects vulnerable individuals such as children and is harmful. A social gap is being created due to the use of ethnicities, religions and other very sensitive issues. This paper has shown that the use of advertising has tremendously increased from the end of World War II to today and that it is clearly harmful for societies. It has created a new way of thinking which is maintained because of the methods that are more and more improved.
At least, the addiction consecutive to the modification of populations’ behavior is increasing.
WORK CITED PAGE Bovee, Courtland L. , and Arens, William F. The Indictments Against Advertising, Advertising Makes Us Too Materialistic. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, 10th edition by Laurence Behrens University of California, 2008. Pearson Longman pp. 685-691. Cohen, Dorothy. Elements of Effective Layout. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, 10th edition by Laurence Behrens University of California, 2008. Pearson Longman pp. 681-684. Cane, William. The Roots of Subliminal Perception. (www. umich. du) Census Bureau (www. census. gov) DeRego, Makenzie. Floyd Dryded Voices: Advertising: Information or Manipulation. Web. Wednesday, January 28th, 2008 (www. capitalcityweekly. com) Fowles, Jib. Chapter 13, New and Improved: Six Decades of Advertising, A Portfolio of Advertisements: 1945-2003. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum, 10th edition by Laurence Behrens University of California, 2008. Pearson Longman pp. 691-737. Shah, Anup. Media and Advertising. Web. March 4th 2012. (www. globalissues. org) Tungate, Mark. Adland: A Global History Of Advertising. Philadelphia : Kogan Pages. 3 July 2007. Print.