These are the indestructible jingles that the world of advertising has managed to drum into our heads, over the course of time. Effective? Yes. Escapable? No. Teenagers in contemporary society are exposed to up to 3000 ads per day, meaning that we are constantly bombarded with advertisements from the minute we step outside our bedroom door. As promotional agencies increase their exposure, they have changed the typical nature of advertising and have become more affluent with the strategies and techniques they employ.
Advertising has shifted into an industry of its own and is clearly shaping, modifying and defining the moral regulations of a 21st century society. As regular consumers, we are seized under the suffocating grip of advertising manipulation. Its pervasive nature is engulfing our society completely, as we are subliminally involved in the perpetual cycle of advertising. These days, it is irrational to state that ads are avoidable, with their invasive nature constantly peering into our personal environment – online, on personal devices, television, radio, billboards and many other vehicles.
In the novel, Ad’s R Us, by Claire Carmichael, arrogant Aunt Kara reveals a comment that is shockingly related to our modern world: “Privacy is an outdated concept, Barrett. ”1 The era of privacy is long-gone, with the act of hiding behind an alias or publishing incognito becoming obsolete at an extraordinary rate. Personal advertising is creating an advanced question, which wouldn’t have crossed the minds of individuals twenty years ago – is privacy a privilege or a right? The art of advertising is a nexus of exploiting techniques designed to directly focus on common psychological themes to motivate people to buy products.
This keeps consumers coming back after making a direct sale, making us feel complete and whole. Stephen Leacock once famously quoted: “Advertising is the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from them. ” Some of the most common emotions that advertisements appeal to are self-sustaining, sexual desire, self-esteem and imitation. It is illogical to say that advertisements are ‘mind-controlling’, but they are certainly having a strong influence. In March of this year, popular Swisse Vitamins were forced to stop broadcasting their TV advertisements because of false advertising.
Their promotions, stating “You’ll feel better on Swisse! ”, were banned by a federal watchdog because the company simply could not prove that customers would feel better on the vitamin tablets. The Machiavellian schemes fixed with modern advertisements are happening in front of our own eyes and are solely focused on fulfilling our personal desires and aspirations. From a young age, advertising is captivating our senses, and eventually turning into us robotic purchasing tools.
Lily Allen’s song, The Fear, refers to what humanity has become and the type of people we are turning into – “I am a weapon of massive consumption – its not my fault it’s how I’m programmed to function. ”2 From birth until death, we are swamped by advertisements, meaning that from a young age we are already becoming buying machines. Will you let yourself be inundated by manipulation in a society flooded with greed and materialism? Did you know that a York University study revealed that American pharmaceutical companies spend twice as much on advertising as they do on research?
Advertising agencies’ main concern is, not public satisfaction, but is really making money. A quote by Fred Allen exclaims,“Advertising is 85% confusion, 15% commission. ” Advertisements are intended to persuade customers into purchasing products, regardless of consumer complacency. They don’t care about how we feel – as long as we continue to swipe the credit card they will have no concern for consumers. Teens account for US $1 billion in e-commerce spending, meaning that young adults are at a high risk of careless online advertising manipulation by companies.
Photoshopping techniques and surgically enhanced bodies are at the heart of modern advertising. The deceiving nature of connotation is casting a gloomy eclipse over advertising, along with the deceit usually automatically attached to the promotion. We are becoming a hyper-stimulated society, obsessed with making purchases because we risk being unworthy or unpopular if we don’t possess a particular product. Consumers are manipulated into a living popularity contest due to the derogatory effects of advertising. James Collins once stated, “A magazine is simply a device to induce people to read advertising”.
With their high number of advertisements, magazines are the number one culprits of photo editing, with almost all of their feature photos or promotions undergoing touch-ups. Did you know that most Victoria’s Secret models in promotions are a size 2, with a 34”-36” bust, 23” waist and 34”-35” hips? Not to mention the hours of retouching, cropping and editing that goes into making the advertisement perfect. These legalised forms of lying3 are sending a notorious message to the naive adolescent brain – ‘this is what you should look like’.
Will you remain oblivious to the unlawful amount of photoshopping that goes on behind the scenes, in order to remain ‘worthy’ in society? Artificial, provocative, offensive – advertising is distorting humanity’s image and outlook on women in an inconceivably disrespectful approach. Due to our high exposure levels, advertising is changing the way we see ourselves and others in the community. We are becoming so familiar with the suggestive advertising that we now disregard it and consider it normality. Young women have primarily become objects of gratification and we have allowed the sexualisation of teens in a shameless, seductive society.
Damaging messages from advertising are violently decaying the innocence of civilisation. Women, in recent times, have been portrayed in an absolutely appalling manner, raising affairs such as body image issues, self-esteem problems and sexual exploitation against women, teens and children. American teen fashion enterprises, such as Abercrombie and Fitch and American Apparel, use controversial advertising campaigns, reverting to the modern advertising concept, ‘sex sells’. Because of ads like these, body image issues have skyrocketed, with 29000 adolescents in 2007 believing that body image was the most important issue for them.
Companies who use this concept are basically encouraging premature sexualisation, leading to serious issues such as eating disorders and depression. Teenagers are resorting to the twenty-first century version of sexual education, the internet, and effects of inappropriate online advertising are everlasting. By the age of 17, females have seen 250,000 TV commercials telling them they should be a decorative sex object or a body size they can never achieve. Young girls are growing up at a younger age and are concerned about issues that, once upon a time, did not apply to them.
Girlfriend magazine has reported that only 8% of readers don’t worry about what boys think of their body. This magazine is targeted at an age bracket of 13-16, meaning that the overwhelming majority (92%) of girls aged 13-16 are concerned about a male perception of their body. This is a shocking expression, but it is absolutely accurate when considering the number of indecent ads aimed at enticing young people. The novel, Ad’s R Us, introduces the idea of a televised teen makeover competition, Ugly D to Teen Queen where minors nominate themselves to be transformed in order to boost self confidence.
Once again, advertising is to blame for appearance related issues – however, product promotions are still encouraged during the program. “Thousands of girls will be lining up, hoping to be selected. Countless more will be glued to the screen, watching the program. For companies with the appropriate products, this provides a most desirable teen demographic. ”4 Personally, I have fallen victim to the deceit that is teenage advertising, being successfully persuaded to purchase a product – “Mum, everyone has one! Agencies target teens when they are most vulnerable and have the lowest points of self-esteem, effectively twisting their thoughts into believing they need the product. We may think that inappropriate contests and advertisement ideas like this don’t exist in our world, but have we forgotten the infamous ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ television show? This notorious TV production is simply a replica of Ugly D to Teen Queen – in fact, our version is worse, considering the fact that parents nominate their infants and toddlers, who cannot think for themselves, rather than capable teenagers.
In conclusion, I strongly believe that our overexposure to advertising is the main perpetrator in society’s loss of privacy, consumer manipulation and deceit, control over decisions, the degrading portrayal of women and the adolescent issues of today. Inescapable advertising is continuing to unreasonably define our morals, making us think twice about the future of modern society. It is directly influencing and affecting future generations, creating a world that could, potentially, be advancing in a dangerous and unstable direction.
Young people of today have successfully been convinced that society is their judge and advertising is their mentor and inspiration to feel worthy in civilisation. With the uncertain future of provocative advertisements, the near future seems to reveal a society out of touch with reality and lost within an duplicitous advertising fantasy.
Mgt 402 hala
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