Bad Side of Advertising

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Advertising is an important method of competition, especially in industries that are highly concentrated. Where companies are unable to compete on price, advertising is fundamental to promote the subtle differences between products. Advertising has gone beyond informing people of the benefits of a product and how to obtain it and has moved into the area of market creation, Hiding behind globalization and partial truths, advertising has become morally questionable by promoting gluttony, vanity, materialism, and other unhealthy ways of thinking in order to create artificial product needs in consumers.

Advertising is an excellent form of communication. Advertising delivers a wealth of information to consumers on varying topics including healthcare and education. The commercial "Above the Influence," is a good example of informative and helpful advertising. This particular commercial attempts to reduce teenage addiction to cigarettes. Other helpful advertisements inform consumers on healthcare topics such as heart disease and diabetes and sources of assistance for social issues such as community events, education opportunities, and political meetings, to name just a few.

On the negative side, advertising has expanded from word of mouth and print to include radio, television, and the Internet, among others. The quantity of advertising encountered by people has become so great that the human sensory system is being overloaded. We see thousands and thousands of ads every single day and we get so immune to it that sometimes we forget that they are ads. Advertising has become so powerful and so subtle that consumers accept most advertising content without critical thought. Unable to exercise careful analysis of every message, consumers find themselves in a mental overload caused by indoctrinating propaganda.

The increase in the number of venues for advertising has allowed advertising markets to expand and grow. Along with the expansion came the opportunity for those markets to become irresponsible in their displays to the public. Advertisers have entered a world where nothing is sacred. Hayman Communications Group, a marketing and advertising firm states, "Human beings, being only human, have been known to respond to appeals based on any and all of the seven deadly sins… Advertising that's boring, however, won't be read."

Lust and sex, two of the most commonly used advertising strategies, are often employed for fragrances, automobiles, fashion items, and luxury goods. Many items that have a well-known label, such as Gucci, Luis Vuitton, Prada, and others, exhibit a common thread in their advertisements -- sex. Vuitton does not need to reveal Kate Moss' nipple through a gauzy top, nor does Gucci need to depict a submissive woman kneeling at the feet of a semi-dressed man with a digitally enhanced penile outline in his tight jeans, to sell shoes and purses. Relying on hasty generalization, advertisers equate the labeled products they are promoting with lust and sex. The intent of the advertiser is not to identify the qualities of the product, but to seduce the consumer into believing they will become more desirable to the opposite sex by owning or wearing the product.

A recent double-page advertisement in Esquire magazine for Dolce and Gabbana, designers of men's and women's fashions, includes five very physically fit male models and a lithe female model. The scene, evoking imagery of gang rape and reeking of violence against women, has one of the males holding the woman's shoulders to the ground, her hips thrust into the air, while the other four men stand in the background. In an ad populum fallacy, the advertiser, by appealing to the supposed prejudices and emotions of the masses, is suggesting that purchasing the advertiser's brand will cause men to become "studs" and the women wearing this label would become the targets of their unbridled lust. The advertiser is using violence against women, in this case a stylized...
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