Advertising Manipulations Essay, Research Paper
Advertising is defined in the Webster?s dictionary as, ?Announcing or praising in some public medium of communication in order to induce people to buy or use the product.? In order for a company to succeed, it is almost necessary for them to advertise their product. Most advertisements are often criticized for encouraging materialistic values and promoting that what one posseses is more important than who one is (Tedlow 4). Advertisers want their ad to stand out so they attempt to do so by using techniques such as humor, ongoing story lines, unexpected dialogue, unusual techniques, attention getting spokespersons, or simply by repeating ads to the extent that it is inevitable for a consumer to remember them (Day 25). Advertising is very common and there are many techniques used to entice consumers; unfortunately, some advertisers go to extremes to persuade consumers which can create social problems. The Federal Trade Commision tries to set standards for advertisements for they do realize a problem exists. In order to determine if an ad is deceptive, they worry about what the message conveys, and not what the claim says (Richards 3).
The main reason for the amount of advertising is profit motivation; an increase in sales means an increase in profit. Advertising took its major turn in the early 1960?s because all products were looking the same so the actual product could no longer sell itself. Therefore, the product was no longer the heart of the message and other methods had to be used for
advertisements to sell the product. Leggy models started selling cars because their sexiness gave the car an advantage; adding more appeal to the customer. Since advertisers were no longer focusing the commercial around the product; a symbol was designed and sold to the consumer in commercials and they then associated the product to this symbol (Boukhari 1). Advertisements are so accessable and abundant because it is the only way for the advertiser to communicate its message to the buyer (Richards 11). Advertising studies show that the average American sees approximately sixteen thousand advertisements -including logos, labels, and announcements- in one day (Day 6). New products, no matter how good they are, will not sell unless the creator can tell people that the product exist, that it is ?better? than all the others, and where the product can be found (Day 8).
The promotion of the product is not the only motivation for advertising; almost more important, the advertisement is hoping to promote that company. Advertisers must creatively explain their clients? company?s philosophy. After learning the effects a company philosophy can produce, advertisers? desired results are that the consumer will buy a company?s products because that company?s philosophy appeals to them (Boukhari 2). Also, advertisers want their company?s products to seem different, unique, and stand out from all others, especially when the product can not sell itself. With some products this individuality is
hard to mold, so repetition is used creating a bulk of
advertisements (Boukhari 1).
It was in the 1960?s when advertisers realized the potential profits that targeting children in advertisements could create. Testing by experts showed that children are extremely vulnerable to the persuasive extremes in television commercials. This vulnerability is because children lack skills and experience that are necessary to be able to differentiate between the good and bad advertising messages (Day 70). The American Demographics magazine printed an article where they had interviewed 112 children ranging in ages from eight to ten to ?draw what comes to mind when they think of going shopping.? In 30 of the 38 categories of products, the children could recall specific brands that category might offer. One child in this experiment could properly spell the brand name Esprit, including the open ?E.? This same child misspelled the words ?shirts? and ?skirts? by confusing them. When asked to spell ?shirts,? he spelled ?skirts;? and vice versa (Day 71). Children fourteen years and under combined spend an estimated $20 billion a year. Most importantly, children influence purchases made by parents, grandparents, and others, which totals approximately $200 billion a year. Obviously advertisers saw this opportunity, investing approximately $800 million, creating ads designed for slots during children’s television shows (Day 69).
A major concern of advertisers targeting children is the
effects of the advertisement on children. Advertisers claim that children are not included in their target audience; however,
these products? ads seem to be purposely luring the young. For example, drinking and smoking in commercials are perceived by children as being cool; the ideals portrayed in these advertisements are that drinking and smoking will allow kids to be accepted into the crowd of cool people. This also ties into sex appeal because it is often portrayed that people who drink and smoke get the prettiest girls or guys (Day 87). Another concern with advertisements appealing to children is young children’s health and well being. During Saturday morning cartoons, nine out of ten of the food commercials are advertising unhealthy foods such as sugary cereals, candy bars, salty canned foods, fatty fast foods and junk food. Advertisers do this knowing that kids want these unhealthy foods and hoping kids will ask for them, and more often get them, even over the original objections of parents (Day 87).
Commercials appealing to children create a change in the way teenagers, especially girls, view themselves. ?Advertising contributes to the increase in the number of girls with low self esteems,? according to advertising researcher, Joan Jacobs Bromberg. The main factor is the advertisement?s focus on superficial appearance to promote products such as Clearasil and
training bras. Many psychologists and critics claim that advertisements that contain super models who are unrealistically thin or make thinness seem to be an important characteristic in women is one of the causes of eating disorders among young women (Day 86). Not all women can use Revlon to attain the gorgeous look of Cindy Crawford, or sing like Faith Hill if they drink Pepsi Cola.
Another form of advertising is the testimonial. ?A testimonial can be any advertising message that reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertisers,? as defined in the Consumer Tips Page (Consumer 1). A typical testimonial advertisement contains a statement similar to ?it really works for me? or ?I made $3000 in one week? (Consumer 2). Another way testimonials attempt to persuade consumers to purchase a product is by having a spokesperson use statements such as ?find out what millions of people, including myself, already know.? They say these exaggerative statements hoping consumers will feel like they are missing out if they do not buy the product that apparently everyone is already using (Day 25). Often testimonials claim once and a lifetime opportunities that a consumer should not even think twice about missing. Realistically, consumers should not buy products upon impulse. Most commonly, these once in a lifetime claims are made from groups who claim a business opportunity
The problem that exist with testimonials is that there is no way to discover if the spokesperson is a credible authority; therefore, they are not trustworthy. When testimonials are used people are claiming personal success stories about a product. The problem that exists is that there is no way to know if the
testifying party is credible. Especially considering that the people chosen are impossible to contact for verification. Many times testimonials are made from people such as ?Christy in Memphis? or ?Bob from Las Vegas.? Who is ?Christy in Memphis? and why should she be believed or trusted? Also, claims are often made by large, vague groups like the small town used in a Quaker Oats commercial (Consumer 1). This entire community claimed that they all ate Quaker Oats and they all claimed the same results; their cholesterol improved significantly. In testimonials, the party testifying claims the product produces extremely desirable affects, but these claims can not be backed up with authoritative evidence. However, Ouaker Oats is an old well established company, America can trust a company that has proven their claims again and again over so many years (Consumer 1). America is still waiting for Ed McMahon to ring their door bell holding a million dollar check. And to think that Mr. McMahon is compensated for this!
With self-preservation being the strongest, sexual appeal is
the second strongest of the psychological appeals used in advertising. The first question that pops into the head is ?Why??, and the answer is simple, ?because it works.? This is because the biological instinct of reproduction in humans combined with the opposite gender of the target audience creates sexual desire which is then subconsciously paired with the product being advertised. Sexual desire is instinctive and when an individual?s ideal mate is perceived with a product, it is obvious that the individual will be intrigued with the accompanying product (Talfinger 3). It is possible to find a connection between sex and a product for almost all products advertised. Often, if a connection can not be found, one will be invented. However, this connection is much easier to be created with a much higher success rate for men because the basic element needed to create sexual desire for a man is simply a woman?s anatomy. As long as a women is young and healthy, she can be desirable. Unfortunately in advertising, it is quite simple to get a man?s attention. Use a woman?s body and associate the possibilities of getting that type woman if he has the product (Talfinger 5). In advertising for women, it is a much more difficult process to get her attention with the same strong affects. A physically fit, healthy man may attract a woman?s attention, but that would not be enough for a woman to actually go buy a product that a model represents (Taflinger 6). A woman?s instinctive concern is what she sees in
the long run. In today?s world, this means money, power, and prestige. Today?s culture rates these factors as extremely important qualities. So therefore, these qualities must be seen in men used in advertisements for him to be seen as sexually desirable which is hard to portray in a short commercial (Talfinger 7).
The problem with sexual motivation is not that it does not work, because it is extremely effective. It is that the item is not being bought because it is a true quality product; but instead, it is being bought because of its sex appeal. Sex in advertising is powerful and effective, but only at the expense of another. There is no possibility that the entire population could
achieve the lifestyles and figures of the actors and actresses used in sexually motivated advertisements. Therefore, sexual appeal might be an excellent method in advertising, but the change it creates in society is negative. These advertisements make people judge others who are not perfect or sexually desirable (Taflinger 10). Sexual appeal gains consumers interest by convincing them that the sexual image portrayed in the ad is important and what the consumer should desire and strive to obtain (Taflinger 7). Sex should not be used as a selling tool. Sex appeal manipulates people; for example, advertisements try to sell to men through their biological attraction to women?s bodies (Taflinger 9). Sexual advertisements have also been blamed for
causing an increase in young people who find sexuality important at an early age. This early sexuality is caused by exposure to the sexual promotions seen in advertisements everywhere, then children imitate the adult behavior they have witnessed in advertisements so many times. Critics say children are rushing into becoming adults which then causes teenagers to engage in sexual relationships prematurely (Day 85).
It was in the 1970?s when journalist, Wilson Bryan Key, proposed that sexual innuendoes were being subliminaly imposed into advertisements in order to persuade consumers to buy the product. Key backed up his claim with the example of a Ritz cracker?s commercial. He claimed that in the ad he saw the word ?sex.? Also, rumors were spread about the appearance of the word ?SEX? actually imprinted on each individual cracker. This subliminally attracted consumers to Ritz cracker eaters to consume even more. Experts dismissed this charge, but Key believes these subtle experimental advertisements opened the gate to the controversial advertisements seen everywhere you turn today (Day 16). The following is one excellent example of the sexual manipulations used today from the Sex and Advertising web page, ?She leans forward exposing an incredible quantity of cleavage. The headline says, ?This is Debbie. She wants you to have this pair in your car.? The rest of the ad talks about buying the grease gun cartridge she holds in either of her hands.?
Advertisements containing sex appeal are becoming more and more common, even when the sexual innuendoes are irrelevant to the purpose of the product (Taflinger 1).
Most advertisers will do or say anything to sell their product for profit; however, some products advertised are legitimate products. A result of some of the manipulations that commercials contain is mixed messages, which can create problems in the way of thinking in a society. Advertising very well might inform the consumer of products that they were unaware of before an advertisement, but the large amount of advertising drives up the price of products. The consumer literally pays for a company?s advertising. Fourteen percent of a product?s sale price is created by the amount of money and effort put into the product?s advertisements. The companies with the most money are winning and the consumers are loosing (Boukhari 2). Advertising
is accused of raising barriers for newcomers in an industry. Advertising is also accused of distracting the consumer from price and quality when they are considering a product ( 4). Consumers need to be leery of items advertised and read between the lines for what is really good and what seems too good to be true, because it usually is. Some advertising is unecessary. Like Coca-Cola, the REAL thing sells itself.
Boukhari, Sophie. ?The Art of Advertising.? UNESCO Courier. Dec. (1998):2/7. July 25, 2000.