Advertising Changes Social Values

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Change is imminent. As resistant as people may be to alter their patterns everything changes over time, especially social values. Whether it be new technology, changes in the economy, or new understandings, values never stay the same. Nothing reflects these values more than advertising and trying to appeal to the peoples need to “fit in” with the values of society. Since the beginning of advertising the sellers are trying to find ways to make the consumers buy into their goods or services and there is no better way than to reflect on how people’s attitudes and beliefs are focused. Changing social values are always reflected in advertising for consumer products.

As social values change so too does the approach that advertisers take to make their product look most appealing to the public. Early on advertising focused mainly on what we see as being “traditional values” that is more focused on the family and the society as a whole. But recently these traditional values have been replaced by more individualistic ideals. Sen Gupta (2007) explained that idea this way.

Advertising trends relating to traditional values and the focus on the collective underwent a change over the years. Over course of time traditional values which once signified the identity of the nation were replaced by trends of modernization and westernization. Today, traditional values are projected more selectively, only those are valued which are recognized by the west. Along with the waning of truly traditional values and the rise of westernization, the individual consumer began to receive greater importance. This indicates a major shift in the psychosocial environment of a community(Sen Gupta 2007).

Sen Gupta (2007) also studied time periods and how these values changed during specific years. It was shown that during 1947-48 most of the advertisements sampled, the customers were addressed as members of the community, family, or social group. The focus was rarely on the individual. In 1971-72 individual identity of the consumer began to get important, though the focus on group identity continued. The individual consumers became the prime focus of advertisers in the early 1990’s and in 2004-05 the group component of advertising was almost non-existent. With this change of focus on who to advertise to also brought the question of what to advertise with.

Advertisers use many different methods on how to appeal to the senses, but one of the most common techniques is the use of animals. Advertisers recognize that consumers are attracted to animals and, for some industries at least, the use of animals actually increases sales compared to brands that do not use animals in their promotions (Spears 2007). According to Nancy Spears and Richard Germain, “Depictions of animals change in accord with the changing times between and within time periods”(Spears 2007). Horses, dogs and birds are the most commonly used animals, but the way they are depicted in the advertisements varies throughout the time periods. Spears(2007) also said “The nature of the themes that were commonly shared between animals in print advertisements and society underwent a shift across the century, moving from themes related to the economy/political climate to themes related to social issues such as relationships and search for identity”(Spears 2007). This shows us that even animals used in advertising change during time periods when social values shift.

Marketers aren’t always trying to appeal aesthetically to the consumers. Some businesses change their techniques when the economies shift. Although recessions don’t necessarily mean changing social values there are many key social issues that arise that cause advertisements to change. A current study I found says that U.S. financial service organizations altered their communication messages in response to the current recession. It stated that the organizations shifted away from emotional messages in favor of...
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