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Advertising Manipulates And Persuading The Consumers Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 3224 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The basic purpose of this paper is to understand the techniques used by advertisers, the propaganda they create and the real dangers they cause in modern society. Our argument is essentially unless people become aware, our society will change direction.

A balanced view however cannot ignore the fact that people like to be in control of their thoughts.  Ads also give information about their products. Some inform against disease risks, others are for humanitarian aid or for the Nation’s welfare but this kind of ads is not much prevalent.

In the following pages, we will first look at what are the methods used by advertisers, how they manipulate dreams and yearnings; then we will turn back to the power and strategies of advertising which attract people with guilt complexes, emotional blockages and false ideas before finally examining the influences on children through various examples of commercial campaigns using transgression and appearance.

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The main goal of advertising is to demonstrate in every ad that consumers have an important and interesting offer and the reason to buy a product. Advertising helps a product to be sold. If it is well advertised, people will be aware of a product and it will lead to an increase in sales. Moreover, with a well marketed ad, it is easier for consumers to understand the benefits of a product and where to find it. Furthermore, people will save time and money instead of trying every kind of product. Companies use different ways to help sell and identify a product with for example, slogans which are used over and over. Advertising is aimed at people who are loyal customers. For example, make-up and beauty products are targeted at women while razors and brief-boxers are targeted at men. Slogans like “It’s the real thing. Coke” by Coca-Cola (Bovée, Thill, Dovel, and Wood 680), or “Because I’m worth it” by l’Oreal but also “Just do it” by Nike help consumers to recognize companies. When people see the Nike symbol, they know what to expect. Nike introduce of the best athletes in their ads and it feels to the viewers a great satisfaction, that is why they want to buy sportswear to be like Zinedine Zidane, Usain Bolt etc. Advertisers create strong, persuasive and lasting symbols. However, these repetitive slogans lead to a ballyhoo and it gets into everybody, people are no longer interested by the quality of the product but they are only focus on the brand. Sut Jhally, in the film “The Ad and the Ego”, said that “symbolism is never natural, it is tied up with power”. Advertising plays a positive key role in many aspects; it also helps “health care organizations, charitable organizations and social activist groups encourage people to give money, to do voluntary work, or vote to change laws” (Day 34). Agreed, but is it the good way to ask some help by broadcasting or others ads? For example, charitable organizations like Amnesty International reach out to their audience by commercials, magazine ads. These ads help consumers to become more aware of problems and that each coin is important, as well as all the support they can give. Should not these organizations directly go and see people, be attractive, organize meetings? Another example is ads made by government for road safety but it does not mean that there are less accidents. We can also watch ads to join the army, but is a thirty second clip make people really want to join military services?

We could not ignore that advertising has various negative aspects. In this paper we will focus on the methods used by advertisers, we will bring to light propaganda and underline ballyhoo to understand what has changed in consumers’ behaviours in the contemporary society.

We will debate on what are the real goals of advertising and why it leads to a kind of corruption.

The number of advertisements, exposed daily to Americans, has soared over the last few decades. Studies reveal that people see three thousands ads per day. Advertising is omnipresent, at the service station, at cinema, in toilet or during sports events, we have now two ads breaks during a film on television. Even space is not sheltered from marketing. The Russian space program has launched a rocket on which was painted a Pizza Hut logo, and some companies have even explored the possibility of putting ads in space that we could see from the earth. People are clearly obsessed by advertising. When we speak about propaganda, people tend to think of Hitler’s and Staline’s massacres but in this essay we point out the ways of which companies try to encourage people to buy products. They persuade people about the “truth of an idea”, the quality and the “appropriateness” (Propaganda and Persuasion: Misuse of Language and Meaning) of a product, why these shoes are better than the other ones. Propaganda is not a simple form of communication; indeed, it is “directional” because people buy products to be in vogue, and it is also emotional because advertising directly appeals to human feelings, we will precisely examine it in the second part of this essay. This famous George Orwell’s statement “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” show the relations between symbolism and power of advertising. Who choices and controls symbolisms? What are the strategies used by advertisers? Bandwagon is a common technique, it is an appeal to join the crowd because others are doing things which are victorious, that is the winning side. If someone do not that, he will be left out. For example, on TV ads, we see that everyone enjoys playing football because they wear the same tee-shirts, so we “jump on the bandwagon” and buy this tee-shirt. Another kind of propaganda, named testimonial, is used when a famous person is connected with an item “Eight out of ten women artists recommend Chanel’s perfume”. The next type is transfer, when the quality of the product is associated with the user. Then, we study repetition; it isn’t just the apparition of the logo which works, it is the repetition of this same logo over and over which hypnotize us and force us to consume things we don’t really need. As Chris McLean says, “the products that stand out and say “buy me”, are ones that carry a logo that has been repeated to us time and time before. This sort of advertising just doesn’t randomly occur”. Finally, we insist on the glittering generalities which are positive meanings highly valued, which make us believe that if we buy a product our life will change. Advertisers try to gather all of theses types of propaganda to make successful ads. “The challenge is not to create works of literary merit, but to meet advertising objectives. This does not mean that copywriting is not an art, however, it is simply art in pursuit of a business goal” (Bovée, Thill, Dovel, and Wood, 676). Unfortunately, business goal makes sense with money, and the different methods used by advertisers lead to a society’s perversion in order to make profit. We can call that a brainwashing, all mankind are bewitched in a wave of advertising and it has changed consumers’ behavior. They linger over some headlines, some slogans or labels “that serve as the come-on to get them to stop turning the page and check out ads” (Bovée, Thill, Dovel, and Wood, 677). “The TV world becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: the mass mind takes shape, its participants acting according to media-derived impulses and believing them to be their own personal volition arising out of their own desires and needs. In such a situation, whoever (advertisers) controls the screen controls the future, the past, and the present” (Nelson 82). We have seen that advertisers use various strategies to persuade people buying products, we will now outline that people are attracted by false ideas and  have guilt complexes and emotional blockages, advertising influences people’s behavior by manipulating dreams and yearnings.

To support our argument, we will refer to a quotation of Northrop Frye who said that “advertising is a judicious mixture of flattery and threats.” Herbert Krugman noted, in a research based on the brain’s survey, that viewers are in an hypnotic state and mostly in trance, “they were getting their beta-endorphine fix.” Advertisers take hold on consumer’s minds, they “tug at their psycho­logical shirtsleeves and slow them down long enough for a word or two about whatever is being sold” (Fowles 658). They try to draw attention to a picture, a slogan, a song “by giving form to people’s deep-lying desires, and picturing states of being that individuals privately yearn for” (Fowles 658). explained that “the function of a display in the store is to recall the consumer’s experience of the product in the commercial. You don’t ask for a product, the product asks for you! That is, a person’s recall of a commercial is evoked by the product itself, visible on a shelf or island display, interacting with the stored data in his brain.” People in modern society no longer takes time to think about a product, its usefulness, interest that it will bring. They are enrolled in the consumer society, they go in search of having the most possible clothing, perfumes or cars. Society became too materialistic, does happiness happen with the possession of more goods? Before, people preferred having a simple life, spending weekend in the countryside, fishing, without luxurious cars and a “bling-bling” lifestyle but advertising pushes them into enjoying “the material pleasures of a modern, technological society” (Bovée and Arens 687). It can be argued that there is a relationship between the Marshall McLuhan’s “continuous pressure” and the “belief in the power of advertising to control customers against their will, an attitude that consumers simply have no freedom of choice when confronted with advertising persuasion” (Bovée and Arens 687). Emotional appeals add up to the manipulation of consumers. The use of subconscious appeals is designed to stimulate “subrational impulses and desires, even if they are unacknowledged by their possessor” (Fowles 659). Fowles demonstrated that ads can be classified in fifteen groups according to the appeals they communicate and he explained that his idea was inspired by Murray’s list which grouped a “full taxonomy of needs.” In every ads we watched, we are brought face to face with appeals, there are many needs that appeal to our psychology. For example, the need to nurture corresponds to maternal instincts, each time we see something “cute, precious” (Fowles 664) like a child or a kitten. Advertisers use affiliation to “win affection of another” (Fowles 662). When someone has the feeling to be protected by an image, that is need for guidance. The need for prominence and attention can be brought together because people want to be respected, to be highly esteemed by everyone. Beauty is attractive and gives us aesthetic sensations, we call it the beauty myth; “We will tell you what is beautiful and what isn’t. Our products are what make people beautiful. To be happy you must be beautiful, and to be beautiful you must buy our clothing and cosmetics.” Most people are not consciously aware they are commanded to buy some products. Stuart Ewen declared that “it became the assumption that the way people are persuaded is to appeal to them on unconscious levels” (The Ad and the Ego). He considered that “the ultimate psychology is pavlovian because ads use communication strategies that create stimuli which make people respond in a manner similar to how Pavlov’s dogs were trained to salivate at the mere ringing of a bell.” Advertisers make ads in order to represent everyday life, to recall customers’ feelings, in that way people recognize themselves; they don’t see this like advertising, but just like something that is done. We have been concentrated on the psychological approach through appeals and needs which surround us in various ads, through false ideas and dreams that are conveying and again this obsession of buying “with the promise of greater status, greater social acceptance and greater sex appeal” (Bovée and Arens 686). Our discussion of the debate leads us to the next point, children’s manipulation.

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Each brand has strategies and, particularly, according to the audience targeted. Currently, pocket money of young people is a significant sum to investors. Moreover, young peoplehave a strong influence on parents. They are the consumers of tomorrow, that explains the investment of major brands for customer loyalty and make them become “good consumers”. So, that is why brands have to adhere to their values​​, use their tools and languages. “As a result, children and adolescents are targeted aggressively by food advertisers, and are exposed to a growing and unprecedented amount of advertising, marketing, and commercialism through a wide range of channels. The principal goal of food advertising and marketing aimed at children is to influence brand awareness, brand preference, brand loyalty, and food purchases among youth” (Food Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in the US). Teenagers need to look like group members and if not they are cast out. The youth do not see themselves survive without the favourite sneakers wore by the group they belong. Young people need to identify with themselves and brands know that. The best example is with De Von Dutch brand. There was no advertising and it has immediately been successful. The simple fact, that celebrities wear clothing, made its name. The brand had clinched a deal with Thierry Henry and Michael Young who were systematically wearing these clothes during meetings. It can be argued that brands make use of young people to sell their products. Advertising puts the sweet flavor forward in various products they offer to young people. It is not only found in food products but also in cigarettes, cosmetics, and especially in alcoholic beverages. This abundance of sugar has resulted in a consumption more and more important and it leads to obesity problem. “To be among the few messages that do manage to gain access to minds, advertisers must be strategic, perhaps even a little under­handed at times” (Fowles 658). During parties students, open bars, or ferias, brands are present in order to promote or to update new products. Internet is a very attractive medium for advertisers wishing to target children. It is in the youth culture because they are growing up in a world where the Internet plays a big part in everyday life. Parents do not understand the scope of the solicitation to which their children are exposed on the Internet. At each new tab opened, an advertisement is displayed on the screen, young people are forced to pay attention. Children are often alone without parental supervision. Unlike other broadcast media, Internet advertising is not controlled. It facilitates the collection of personal information about young people and it allows to target individually children through personalized messages.

It is difficult for adolescents to develop healthy attitudes about sexuality and body image when many of advertisements are filled with thin, fit, beautiful and very sexually attractive people. It can be seen that there is a link between sex appeal, physical attractiveness, popularity, success and happiness. Fashion designers like Calvin Klein, Guess resort to aggressive campaigns involving young people. These ads sell more than clothes, they also sell adult sexuality. The tobacco and alcohol industries target young people in advertisements giving an impression of being cool, independent. The Marlboro Man (696 Marlboro), with his image of independence and autonomy, “struck a responsive chord among adolescent males” (Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in the US). Marketers publish advertisements in magazines mostly read mostly by teenagers and place advertisements near schools, on billboards, in bus shelters. They make smoking favourite of young people. They sponsor concerts and sporting events and broadcast their ads during programs listened by young people.

“Because marketing to children and adolescents has become so pervasive, many child advocates and media experts believe that such marketing constitutes an escalating public health problem. The intense marketing of high fat, high sugar foods, tobacco, alcohol, to young children can be considered as exploitation because they do not understand that adverts are designed to sell products and can not comprehend or evaluate advertising” (Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in the US)”. “The purpose of advertising is to persuade, and young children have few defenses against such advertising. Older children and teens can be manipulated by the strong emotive messages in advertisements.” (Strasburger 186).

To conclude, it is necessary to remind Carrie Snow’s quote, who said, “Advertising degrades the people it appeals to; it deprives them of their will to choose.” The present study was designed to show that advertising made change people’s behaviors because it is manipulative. One of the more significant findings to emerge from this paper is that advertisers use strategies in order to take control of consumer’s minds to increase sales. It is a matter of money. Advertisers are conscious of people’s emotionalism and trifle with them. We have seen that marketers have various tactics to make believe that consumers need a product. Unfortunately, people are ignorant toward the control. That is why advertisers take advantage of it since the earliest years; children are under a persisting pressure and are influenced to eat more sugar, smoke more cigarettes and buy more shoes. Generally, people want to have a great social status, to be fashionable, they want to feel respected. An obvious solution to the problem highlighted in this paper would be to protect from commercial influences “that may adversely impact people health, and that as a society that values man, there should be greater social responsibility for their present and future health” (Food Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in the US). The limitations of this study are clear, advertising has also benefits. However exploratory, this study may offer some insight into the current society in which we are living. Despite his limitations, this study does suggest that people ought to stand back from ads they see every day and understand that it is a trap to make them consume again and again.


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