This paper summarizes the negative impacts of advertisements on our society. The kind of exposure people now-a-days have towards Internet, electronic and print media compels one to re-think on the effects that these advertisements have on the minds of the general public. The main aim of this research was to find out how the overwhelming amount of advertisements is affecting the people in our society. Many recent studies suggest that the advertising clutter is damaging our most critical organ that, is brain. Advertisements manipulate and distract us in such a way that our minds become enslaved and our needs or desires come under control of these advertisings. It particularly has terrible effects on children, teenagers and youth. According to my research advertisements are of great importance in today’s world but the adverse effects of advertisements are increasing day by day and diminishing the effectiveness of ads. Advertising makes us feel that we are not good enough as we are. Promoting idealism, advertisements create an unrealistic image of perfection in our minds. Hence, a solution is required to reduce the harmful effects of advertisements.
Advertisements affect our daily lives and as the technology is developing, we have become exposed to greater amount of advertisements. The purpose of advertisements is to educate the people about different products or services. But my area of concern is to find out answers about following problems:
Does Advertisements are only benefitting the people or does it also have any kind of harmful effects?
Advertisements are creating unrealistic images of perfection in people’s minds. Is this true?
Is advertising destroying our cultural and moral values?
Is advertising an art of depriving people of their money for something they don’t need?
How advertising is affecting badly on our children?
The first evidence of advertisement was found among the ancient Babylonian empire back in 3000 BC. The first ever advertisement went for print in 1472, to sell a prayer book. Since the late 1800’s psychologists are trying to find out ways how ads can effect an individual mentally and emotionally. There are two different groups on this issue: One group believes that ads are causing damage to our society while the other one believes that ads do not have negative impact on people. Richard polly , in his book The Distorted mirror used the metaphor of “Brain surgery” while speaking about the influence of ads on society. In a chapter from textbook: “Psychology and consumer culture: The struggle for a good life in Materialistic World” it is stated that commercials manipulate people’s strongest desires and greatest fears to convince them to buy the product. Many advertisement critics believe that there are many such messages shown through ads that we don’t even know that we are receiving.
One other point is that advertising has negative influence on children and teenagers. In “Kid Kustomers” Eric Schlosser addresses those advertisements that target children. In 1980’s, when the parents start spending more money on children but less time with them, it was the time when children have begun to be targeted by advertisements of phone companies, auto companies as well as clothing stores etc. When these advertisements start affecting the children, they cannot differentiate between reality and fantasy ads.
Advertising has positive as well as negative, social and economic impacts on our society. We are exposed to hundreds of ads and commercials for various products every day. This excessive amount of advertisements cannot be side lined and affects all those surrounded by it. The purpose of advertisements is to educate the user about the product or service. However, using some manipulative tactics advertising poses some real harmful threats to our society.
Advertisements are displayed through many different sources like newspapers, magazines, internet, television, billboards etc. An average person come across hundreds of advertisements every single day.
The question is: “Are these advertisements deceptive in any way”?
Advertisements apart from their benefits, tend to create a negative impact on the mind set of people. It has adverse effects on children, teenagers and youth in particular. An individual’s environment has a direct influence on their attitude and behaviors; as such, the advertisements that are the part of this environment can alter and potentially damage the audience to which they are being exposed. It is important to note that negative advertisements not only bring upon a change in the mental thinking of a subject, but also influences the actions of that subject.
The objective of this research study is to study how the advertisements affect the moral and ethical attitude of its viewers.
Advertising is influencing our society in negative way due to its adverse impact on children, false images, misrepresentation and unrealistic expectations. It is causing damage to our culture and making our families money-producers and buyers.
WHAT ARE ADVERTISEMENTS?
Advertisements are a mean of communication with the general public to promote products or services. Advertisements are used to call public attention to something. The main purpose of advertisements is to persuade people to buy company’s products or services. In other words we can say that the actual promotion messages are called advertisements. Today in many countries advertisements are considered an important source of income for print and electronic media through which they are conducted.
TYPES OF ADVERTISEMENTS:
There are many types of advertisements present in today’s era. Few important ones are discussed below.
Print media is a traditional source of advertisements. Even in today’s digital era, some people still prefer newspapers and magazines over social sites. Hence print media is quite a reliable source of advertisements.
Radio And Podcasts:
Radio and Podcasts can be used as a platform for verbal promotion ads. You can record an advertisement to be played repeatedly on radio or podcasts.
These can be called as an updated version of newspaper advertising. It is basically advertising on websites or apps or social media using banners or text, images, audio, video etc.
Social Media Ads :
Lot of social media sites offer relatively inexpensive advertising. For example: Facebook, Instagram, pinterest etc.
Outdoor Advertising :
Companies feature their products through billboards or on buses, taxis etc.
Event Marketing :
Some companies advertise their products by sponsoring a sports team or a charity event or some other kinds of events. This is called Event Marketing. Many people come to know about the brand name because of this type of marketing.
IMPACTS OF ADVERTISEMENTS:
Advertising is a double edged sword as it has merits as well as demerits. Advertising is a best way to let the consumer know about the product. They also provide platform to create awareness about different things among the general public. On the other hand, the growing volume of advertisements in our society is becoming a cause of mental illness among different people.
Importance of Advertisements:
Let us first discuss why advertisements are necessary:
Public Service Ads:
Through advertisements many public service announcements about health, safety and national security are made. Public service campaigns are run by our Government, NGO’s and private companies.
Awareness about various products, their use, safe handling of dangerous goods and things like effective usage of petroleum, electricity etc is created among people using advertisements.
Generally people are traditional. They are informed about development of latest technologies or latest researches through ads.
Many social changes like Gender equality, women empowerment, awareness against
child labor, child marriages etc are consequences of Advertisements.
Concern for the quality of a product, process or even work, education etc is promoted with the help of advertisements.
HOW ADVERTISEMENTS ARE BECOMING A SOCIAL ISSUE:
“Advertisements do more harm than good”
The levels of advertising are just way too much these days. We cannot walk down the road, ride a bus, or watch television without seeing ads these days. People cannot just ignore these advertisements because advertisers use many sneaky methods to spread their message.Many posters have attention grabbing pictures or words. Although advertisements are used for many good purposes but the deceptive image of advertisements is making it a social issue disturbing the life of many people.
In 1957, in his book “Hidden Persuaders” Vance Packard exposed just how influential psychology and behavioral sciences were becoming to advertising agencies. In a review of Packard’s book, the New York Times explains that
“Advertisers were trying to puzzle out the reasons for impulsive and even self-destructive purchasing, then tailor images and packaging accordingly”.
Disrupting Our lives:
Many people don’t want to see ads every single time they load a website or on social media account. Waiting for a page to load on our phones because of the advertisements is very infuriating. Outdoor campaigns attack our eyes with their bright messages. Similarly ads may ruin any kind of website experience. These ads are constantly disrupting our lives making us exasperated.
Highlight your Flaws:
Ads basically highlight your flaws. They try to make people feel inferior if they don’t have the product, or if they have something which the product can change. How are you going to buy some beauty cream if you think that you are already beautiful? These ads manipulate your mind in such a way that you think that you would be happy if you buy that product.
Unrealistic Body image expectations:
Our self-image is definitely being affected. The standards of beauty set in advertisements are beyond ridiculous. Perception of beauty and fashion have been terribly distorted by these advertisements. Ads may not judge people but they are pressuring people. Advertisements pressure people to be beautiful, healthy, strong like the models shown in ads. Many young people have low self-esteem and unhealthy lifestyles because they think that they should be thinner or more attractive just like the models they see in advertisements. This leads to serious problems like eating disorders or self-harm.
Misrepresentation in ads:
Misrepresentation comes under false advertising. Misrepresentation incudes persuading the people to buy your product by describing such a characteristic or feature of the product that actually doesn’t exist in the product. For example if you are trying to sell a car by saying that it is in excellent condition when it is not quite good, this is called misrepresentation. Similarly, many companies try to sell their beauty products by giving a time limit: “You will get a fair skin within 7 days”, ignoring whether the results are temporary or permanent and even it may damage your skin. These kind of manipulative tactics used by advertising agencies cause problems for the general public.
Creating Unnecessary needs:
Most ads advertise those products that very few people need and also create a craving for them. Just think about it. Those things that people actually need to survive does not need any kind of advertisement, consumers are actually in quest of them. But when it comes to the “stuff” that we don’t need for survival but advertisements make them look like compulsory for our happiness. Unnecessary needs and desires are created in our hearts. Like people think “I will feel satisfy after buying that car” or “I will be completely happy with this diamond necklace” or “How could i even imagine to live without an iPhone?”. From new cars to latest mobile phones and the latest restaurants, advertising can literally make people yearn for something they didn’t even know they wanted a few seconds earlier.
Advertisers don’t think about the good of society when they are making ads, they only care about their own profit. This means that they advertise unhealthy or harmful things without any hesitation. For example fast food ads are the main cause why so many children are overweight these days. The advertiser area of concern is that children should eat as much fast food as possible regardless of any health costs.
One other problem is the competition between different products. There are so many choices among products that it causes confusion in the minds of people. Recent research suggest that people on average are less happy than they were 30 years ago despite being more luxurious and having much more choices of things to spend their money on. Choices overload increases expectations about a product and causes disappointment after it is bought. Consumers often regret the choice they made and regret not choosing something else.
Destroying Our Culture:
Every culture in the world undergoes some developmental stages. Every culture today is trying to mold itself into “A MODERN CULTURE”. The nub of the thousands of different stories they tell is that the only way to secure pleasure, popularity, security, happiness or fulfillment is through buying more things, more consumption-regardless of how much we already have and whether we need more or not. Results are very clear: In the race of becoming modern, we are losing our cultural morals, values, ethics and traditions.
Effect on Family:
These days, families have “consumerized”. Parents buy many things for themselves and for their kids. They buy clothes, toys, cellphones, computers and a wide variety of luxury goods. They are completely saturated in it because of what the watch and what they listen to in advertisements. And they can’t help it because it’s everywhere. It destroys the family because it becomes a family of money-producers and buyers; and not a family of cherishing, loving and caring.
Negative Impacts on Children:
According to a research, an average child is exposed to more than 40,000 advertisements per year. As far as advertising goes, one of the biggest
impact made on children is through television. Even the top researchers do not know exactly how these ads affect children. According to a recent study most of the children spend about 4.5 hours watching TV every single day. Although there are a lot of positive effects of advertisements on children like giving them information about many important topics and about their surroundings. But ads are causing some negative effects on children especially when parents are not careful. Studies have found that children do not have the ability to skeptically view marketing messages. In many cases, the messages in the ads are misinterpreted and as a result children have the wrong beliefs about many different issues. Advertising influence their mind in such a way that a need to get the product they see in ads is created in their minds. Parents who cannot handle their kids increasing demands or temper tantrums have a tendency to surrender to their children’s demands. As a result of which the child get addicted to the lifestyle shown in media.
Some other negative impacts on children due to ads are:
Children want to own everything they see in ads, whether they need it or not.
Many Studies have shown that children tend to focus on negative side rather than the positive side of the messages shown in ads. They also misinterpret the messages.
Many children want to try the dangerous stunts shown in TV because they are unable to understand the warnings that come with the ads.
Attractive junk food commercials causes adverse effects on children’s health. These kind of ads promote unhealthy eating which may lead to obesity, diabetes, blood pressure and heart diseases etc.
Sexually suggestive ads are everywhere these days. This causes children to objectify women disturbing their moral values.
With so many commercials, reality and fantasy do not seem too different, causing confusion among children, destroying their sense of reality.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Advertisements are a necessary component of any society. We cannot get rid of them completely. However, we can reduce the negative impacts of advertising by different ways such as:
Banning advertising to children.
Taxes on advertising.
Restricting new forms of advertising.
Ad agencies accountability system.
Reducing the emphasis on idealism and perfection.
In conclusion, there is no argument that advertisements affect us in both positive and negative ways. Advertisements helps to create awareness among the general public about products, services and campaigns. Advertisements also manipulate us to think that we need everything that is being advertised for our survival. Advertisements are causing our culture and traditions to lose its value. However, in my opinion what could be expected in the long term is not the prohibition of advertising but a higher extent of regulation. In the end it is also up to us the general public to filter what is being presented to us and understand that not all advertisements are being presented with good or bad intentions.
“The Hidden Persuaders” Book by Vance Packard”The Distorted Mirror: Reflection on the Unintended Consequences of Advertising” Book by Richard Polly
“Kids Kostumers” by Eric Schlosser