Advertising And Its Appeal On Society

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Advertising and its Appeal on Society
        
        Today we live in a society that is being dominated and confounded by commercials and ads. A new age, which could be referred to as the advertising age where commercials and ads tell us what is a necessity and what isn't. Howard Luck Gossage in his book Is There Any Hope for Advertising? Stated that there are ads and commercials everywhere around us in which there is no escape. "I like to imagine a better world where there will be less, and more stimulating advertising. I suppose all of us would like to see this come to pass, it would certainly clear away some of the confusion from advertising's murky picture and make it easier to comprehend" (7). Ads and commercials have flourished everywhere like a virus, once it strikes there is no way we can remove the marks it left behind. It creates this blurry, confusing picture, a "murky picture" as Gossage stated, which most people won't find the genuine truth behind what the product really mean and if its really useful or not. Advertising forces consumers into buying products by manipulation which make the customers buy products they think are good for them when in fact it isn't and they do this by appealing in their innermost desires. Advertisers are aware of the cultural need of acceptance and people's
insecurities and takes advantage of these desires to persuade people into buying their products.
        There are three significant aspects for advertising: 1) A persuading selling message, 2) prospects for the products or service, and finally 3) at the lowest possible cost (Jefkins 5). The first aspect deals with how to persuade people in believing that the product that is being advertised is absolutely salutary. The second however identifies which target group the commercial or the ad will be advertised to. Finally the last phase deals with the economical issues like how low the products price has to be in order to grasp the customer's attention. Presumably the most popular aspect for advertising is the first aspect since advertising is all about using the right statements and pictures that would grasp the customer's attention. It essentially aims to cause the customer at least look at the article to see a picture or a name of the product, which is being advertised.
        One way to persuade and plunder the customer's attention is to use catchy slogans, characters, symbols, and icons with which the advertisers use to identify and advertise their products. Volkswagen has been one of the most famous car companies that have been known to use catchy slogans and different symbols. For instance, in 1988 Volkswagen made a commercial that generally says that a car is more precious than diamonds to a girl.
"In the commercial a song titled Everyone's going through changes is played in the background as a young lady emerges from the household and slams the door. She pulls her ring off and posts it through the letterbox, then storms down the street ripping off her pearls, slinging a bracelet past
a cat, abandoning her fur coat over a parking meter. Poised over a grating into which she is about to dispose of her car keys, she has a change of heart as she considers what she'd be throwing away. Perked up enormously, she drives off in her VW. Super: If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen" (Kanner 105).
The pearls, ring, and fur coat are all great symbols which represent the woman's most desirable friends and its all thrown away for the new best friend the woman has discovered. The moment the girl throws away all the precious items is the moment where the commercial grabs the viewer's alertness, since this is where the action is taking place. This also makes the viewer ponder why the girl in the commercial is throwing away all her valuable items. The commercial then plays on making the viewer believe that owning pearls, diamonds, and fur coats are not as worthy as owning a new Volkswagen car. The slogan used at the end of the commercial "if only everything in life was as reliable as a VW" authenticate this meaning to the customer. Evidently by analyzing this commercial one will perceive which group this product is being advertised to, which in this case is obviously women. Brennice Kanner in his book "The 100 best TV Commercials" wrote that by showing this woman in the commercial empowered and making these decisions was definitely a side bonus that attracted female purchasers' (105).
        An additional example of a company, which uses very interesting slogans, is Coca-Cola. One of the new Coca-Cola commercials presents three little boys sitting together in the desert somewhere in Africa, chatting. One of them asks, "I wonder what
it tastes like?" His friend then answers, "My dad says it's like kissing a girl," the little boy then takes a sip from his Coca-Cola bottle; "Is it like kissing a girl?" his friend asks. The boy finally replies, "I hope so." This commercial was able to connect the taste of coke to the taste of kissing a girl, which without a doubt makes the commercial very capable of making little boys directly go to the nearest store and buy a Coca-Cola bottle. In January 17, 2000 a well known magazine titled Advertising Age wrote: "National TV spots--four by brunet and six by Edge Creative--liken sipping a coke to kissing a girl, tasting a snowflake, sharing good times with friends, dancing in a crowd and riding a waterfall, among other pleasures" (53). Coca-Cola created its different commercials taking into consideration the different age groups who will be viewing their commercials, which makes the commercial more effective by grabbing everyone's attention. The previous example of the Coca-Cola commercial illustrates the three different aspects that have been described above. It shows where the persuasion occurs, which age group the commercial is targeted to, and finally deals with the economical issues by showing that even kids from Africa which is considered a third world country can offered to drink Coca-Cola.
        Advertisements could have many meanings to people, it could be complex like "activities by which visual or oral messages are addressed to the public at large or to a selected number of people, for the purpose of informing them about, and influencing them to buy, the merchandise featured in the advertising.". Or it could be simple as "Advertising is the means of making known in order to buy or sell goods" (Jefkims 8). In these previous two examples the word fear or the act of playing with negative emotions was never brought up. These meanings are just all about influencing and persuading people, like what the VW commercial does, nobody mentioned anything about the use of fear. Advertisers try to persuade the customer by developing commercials that will evoke fear into the consumer from the consequences of not buying their product. That's exactly how most of today's commercials are being developed, it plays with basic human emotions and takes advantage of them. Most of these commercials are usually the commercials that are targeted especially for women like make-up commercials. One of the most well-known make-up companies is Maybelline. In one of its recent ads about mascara, Maybelline featured Sarah Michelle Geller who is a very well known, famous actor walking with her flaunful looks and immaculate beauty asking: "Tired of using all these different brands of mascara that smears and smudges? Now get the look with the new water proof Full'N Soft mascara that won't run smear or smudge!" This commercial is primarily implying that without using maybellin's new mascara, women will have smudges and smears all over their faces and they won't look as ravishing as Sarah Michelle Geller. The fact that commercial uses a very famous beautiful actor in the commercial makes it more swaying and persuading for women to get up and buy this mascara immediately.
        Another big example which also plays on evoking fear in the customers mind are the gym commercials. The commercials of Bally's Total Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, and many other gym commercials try to overwhelm the viewers with the distress that if they don't join the gym, they will be unfit, unattractive and therefore unwanted. Gym commercials succeeded in doing so not just by evoking fear but also by getting to what most people are looking for "instant gratification". Almost all of the gym commercials show the final products after exercising rather than people who have not yet succeeded so when the viewers watch the commercials they would immediately say "˜yeah I want to look like that too'. Icons like showing perfectly hard toned bodies and offers like starting as low as nineteen dollars a month, which gym commercials use to make their company stimulus enough for people to want to join right away.
        In addition to the use of fear to make people feel dissatisfied with their current appearances and what they have, Advertising today is beginning to use lots of different sexual icons to entice people's attention even more. Sexuality in advertising is now a major area of ethical concern, though surprisingly little is known about its effects or the norms for it's use (Advertising Age 34). Advertisers use of sex appeals has grown and became widely present throughout our American culture. Calvin Klein ads are best to illustrate how sex appeal is being used in their commercials and ads. In one of Calvin Klein ads for "Obsession" cologne for men, featured a young beautiful woman naked. This ad is obviously targeted to men since it's cologne for men, but what is the point of featuring a naked young woman? Another Calvin Klein ad, which was published in New York and Los Angeles editions of Vanity Fair, was described by advertising Age as "Boy meets girl, boy meets boy, boy meets self". That's merely the most striking example of a vast range of jeans, lingerie and cosmetics ads that once would have been relegated to playboy or penthouse, but now are appearing in upscale mainstream publications (Variety 23).
        Paul Rutherford in his book about the different icons used in commercial television wrote "Mass culture is what "˜they' make; popular culture is what "˜we' do with it"(180). In other words whatever message a commercial is trying to convey, the way the consumer chooses to interpret this message creates the conception of American popular culture today. Whether the commercials and ads are getting across valuable information or just trying to sell a product, advertisers know how to get the public's attention by playing with the idea of American popular culture.

Work Cited

Jefkins, Frank Williams. Advertising Today. London: International Textbook Company
LTD, 1971.
Kirkpatrick, Jerry. In Defence Of Advertising. Westport: Quorum         books CT, 1994.
Rutherford, Paul. The New Icons? The Art of Television Advertising. London:
University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 1994.
Jones, John Philip. How advertising works: The Role of Research. GLondon: SAGE
Publications, 1998
Gossage, Howard Luck. Is There Any Hope for advertising? Ed. Kim Rotzoll, Jarlath
Graham, and Barrows Mussey. San Francisco: Trustees of the University of
Illinois CA, 1986.
Kanner, Bernice. The 100 Best TV Commercials. New York: Times Books, 1999.
Kessler, Ann. "When is the right time to advertise?" Bank Marketing April 2000:
32(4):9
Lopez, Steve. "Would you wrap your car in an Ad for $400?" TIME Magazine 17 July
2000: 156
Thompson, Stephanie. "Coca-Cola taps local pleasures to push classic." Advertisng Age
17 January 2000: 34, 53
McNary, Dave. "Ad-versaries give strike split decision" Variety 19 June         2000: 17


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