Commercials Essay, Research Paper
ONLY HALF THE TRUTH OF COMMERCIALS
How we spend our money; what our fantasies, desires, fears, and needs have been; commercials taught us about new technologies; and which products and trends lasted and which have nt. Commercials taught us how to use disposable bladed; how to have “Kodak moment”; it gave us advice to “Just Do It”.
Television is a vehicle for our fantasy and imagination. It is not a way of life. Many children sit for hours at a time, mindlessly channel surfing their way through life, as opposed to living it. Children need to be taught that the television, just like every other appliance in the home, has a specific function. For example, we do not leave the hair dryer on once our hair is dry, or the toaster on once the toast has popped up. We recognize the specific uses of these appliances and know when to turn them off. I think children need to be educated about television in order for them to determine what is of real interest to them, and what is not.
Television is pervasive and powerful. It is hard to mentally shield ourselves from their numerous and persuasive ways when advertisers know too much about us for our own good. Commercials has accumulated statistics about our daily life. One toothpaste commercial stated, “Did you know that twenty-five percent of all food is eaten between meals.” Or a shoes commercial informs us that, “The average person spends over six hours a day standing on their feet.” Commercial have even gotten a grip on how our brain thinks and sees. They know that shoppers will pick up a package with a picture on it faster than a package with only a simple design. And that we are more likely to buy a round package over a square one. Our fear that the commercials can make us think and buy anything they want proves to be somewhat scary.
These constant bombardments of half factual information surrounds us no matter where we turn, intruding into our communication , our streets, and our very home. It is designed to attract attention, give advice, to change attitudes, an to command our behavior. The people and scenes of TV commercials resemble actors and actresses of TV drama; they are better looking, better dressed, and have an income better than the average person. The message behind most commercials is to persuade viewers to buy a particular brand of merchandise and preach the value of physical beauty, health, high status and well-being, if they use their product. Advertising teaches us to take pride in our outer appearances and in the way we present ourselves to others. Television constantly bombards us with commercial of ways to enhance our appearance. Maybeline, L’oreal, Pond, Clinque, Cover Girl, and Noxema are major corporations of cosmetic products, and their main target is teenage girls. The majority of girls during their maturing stage are vulnerable because they are embarrassed, and self-conscience of the development their bodies are going through. I was a victim once of the Noxema commercial. The set up was a beautiful girl; most of you know her as the Noxema girl getting ready for a date. She squeezed a dot-size amount onto her palms, and worked into lather. Then she massaged it onto her face, and splashes it away with water. Later it shows her with a handsome guy as he was gently caressing her face, commenting on how soft it is. I did not believe the part about the guy, but I wanted to have her skin. Her skin was soft, radiant, and it has this warm romantic glow to it. I save up my measly two weeks allowance and went to Payless to buy myself a this amazing product advertised on TV. Each morning, I washed my face like the Noxema girl did on the commercial. The first time I used it, my cheek turned really red as if I had a rash. Even with the side effect, I continue to use it for the next couple of days, making myself believe that my skin has improved. Like most teenage girls and guys, I had an acne problem. I was desperate, and I would try anything to relieve myself of the embarrassment, and the humiliation of my imperfect complexion.
Advertisements also offer constant reminders of the possessions that we don’t have and of the envied privileges of those who do have them. Ads exert a persistent pressure to acquire more things and therefore a pressure to work harder to earn money in order to acquire what we want, but not what we need. People who feel personally inadequate from their achievements, advertisements may have a different effect, fostering the idea that possessions are so important that they must be acquired by any means. Advertisers try to convince people that buying a certain product will fulfill their higher needs. Since one of our many desires is to be a part of a group, commercials often suggest that their product will ensure friendship or acceptance be a group. There was a story that made headlines about a boy who beat up and robbed another classmate to obtain an expensive, new, popular Nike shoes and jacket. Nike uses famous sport players such as Michael Jordan, Gary Payton, Scottie Pippen, and Anfernee Hardway to sell their product.
Over the pass few years that I’ve been living in America, where at two television sets is a standard in every house hold. I have come to believe that commercials have placed a lot of pressure on young children who do not have the skills or knowledge to distinguish between factual information and hype, or exaggerations in commercials. From a very early age youngsters are being conditioned to consumer more and more but are not being taught how to make wise consumer choices. It is clear that millions of children today are looking more to television than ever before for role models. The boy who beat up his classmate must have thought that if he had the product that Michael Jordan used, his chances of being like Mike will increase. Schools need to educate their students that television is not a device that we passively allow to fill up dead space; rather, it is a source of entertainment and education that we actively pursue. It is clear that students are watching television programming without any supervision or guidance. With this in mind there should be an increase on how to teach student to become conscientious consumers of media, making thoughtful and an economical choice about programs as part of the curriculum. Students need to be informed about the differences between television and real life. They must be taught to ask questions. Question such as whether a product is medically proven effective, recommended by credible sources, possible side affect, and is it possible to magically change something over night.
Television, newspaper, radio broadcasts, magazine, movies, are the few existing medium people turns to for information and entertainment. Despite the numerous hours people spend with it, there are no classes or programs that educate us on how to utilize the information. Perhaps if we did, I would not have spent my two weeks allowance on a jar of Noxema cream, and the boy who wanted those Michael Jordan shoes and jacket would not have resort to beating up his classmate for it.
To be a smart consumer we must realize that the messages in a commercial are often distorted by words and images that have little to do with factual information. To be able to distinguish between facts and exaggeration in the advertising messages we have to be on guard on how a word is used, how it is stated, and what is really being presented. Commercials frequently includes the helping word “helps” with a strong verb. For example, “helps stops,” “helps relieve,” “helps cure,” and “helps fight.” A toothpaste commercial says, “Helps prevent cavities,” but it doesn’t say it will actually prevent cavities. Brushing your regularly, avoiding sugars in food, and flossing daily will also help prevent cavities. The Noxema commercial I feel for says, “Helps prevent acne,” but it doesn’t say it actually kills right germs on my face causes the acne.
TV commercials create unrealistic expectations for our society. Implying that we have to drive car ‘A’ and wear product ‘B’ and ‘C’ to demonstrate success, and consume products ‘F’ and ‘G’ to show that we are of some worth. These implied messages, day in and day out, may created dissatisfaction, and people who are unable to afford products A, B ,C, D, E, F, and G may think they have little value as individuals. We have to take time to analyze the language of commercials, sorting out the tricky words and phrases. When a product claims to be “new and improved.” We must ask ourselves how is it improved? If a commercial says, “when you want the very best,” we should immediately ask, “the very best of what?” Statements such as “half the calories” are meaning less because we do not know how many calories there were to begin with and what product is being compared to? Maybe we buy a soft drink because it is advertised as having “the right taste.” How can a taste be “right” or “wrong”? Even if right is used to mean “appropriate” or “suitable,” what is a “suitable taste” and how do we define our taste anyway? We have to remember, the ad is trying to get us to buy a product, so it will put the product in the best possible light, using any device, trick, or means legally allowed. After all, these claims and statements made by the advertisers are not lies or false; they are just not the whole truth. And if we let ourselves to believe only half the truth then we are lying to ourselves.