Over the years, it is apparent that adverts in general have adapted their advertising language by employing extensive methods of persuasion, instead of focusing on their actual product or purpose.
Some may remember when the NHS health campaigns were exactly that; health campaigns, not commercials. Their primary objective was to inform the audience of the dangers of smoking and drug and alcohol abuse. But over the years they have adopted a manipulation tactic to play on the fears and anxieties of its viewers. This is especially evident in their anti-smoking campaigns.
A team of researchers at the University of Southampton have looked into how the use of language in the NHS smoking advertisements has an impact on viewers and explored whether the language has developed in the extent of its influential power. They found that a number of the TV adverts, in fact, used very little language and relied mainly on the visuals to make their point such as in the ‘Getting Unhooked’ advert in which a fish hook is used to represent a smoker’s addiction and the ‘Hidden smoke’ advert in which the cigarette smoke in the air is coloured black to see how much it effects those around you.
This is also evident in the use of warnings on cigarette packaging. Health warnings have been printed on the front of cigarette packets since 1971, and there was a time when a simple ‘Smoking Kills’ would convince consumers to think twice about their need to smoke. However, as of October 2009, all cigarette packets in the UK must carry a picture warning, suggesting that discouraging language is no longer compelling enough to stop smokers