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Advertising: The Good And Bad

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Advertising is a persuasive communication attempt to change or reinforce one's prior attitude that is predictable of future behavior. We are not born with the attitudes for which we hold toward various things in our environment. Instead, we learn our feelings of favorability or unfavorability through information about the object through advertising or direct experience with the object, or some combination of the two. Furthermore, the main aim of advertising is to 'persuade' to consumer in order to generate new markets for production.

"Advertising is far from impotent or harmless; it is not a mere mirror image. Its power is real, and on the brink of a great increase. Not the power to brainwash overnight, but the power to create subtle and real change. The power to prevail." (Clark)

Advertising is used to promote goods, services, images, and anything else that advertisers want to publicize. It is becoming a major part of mass media. At times, we may view it positively; at other times we may just skip or ignore it. In order to attract audience, advertisers use various techniques on their advertisement to make people aware of the firm's products, services or brands. Although the methods used by advertisers are infinite, they have a common goal: to persuade those who may become their customers to buy their products. An excellent advertisement will create a deep impression on its potential customers.

The impact of advertising on our society is a fiercely debated topic, and has been ever since the conception of advertising in its most basic form. There are negative and positive social and economic impacts upon society from advertising in its various forms.

Advertising promoting public welfare has a positive social impact upon society. It has been used to increase awareness in society about particular issues, and in doing so becomes a form of education. Anti drug advertising such as "It's OK to say NO" and the "STAND" anti smoking campaign are just two examples of how society uses the advertising industry as a means to promote public welfare. The 'Vote or Die' campaign from the 2004 Presidential election encouraged citizens to get out and let their voice be heard, pushing society to take an active role in the leadership of the nation. Other forms of socially positive advertising include those advocating safe sex, thereby considerably slowing the spread of deadly STDs throughout the community.

There are economic benefits of advertising on society as well as just social benefits. Without advertising, the media (including newspaper, television, and radio) would be much less vigorous. Advertising provides revenue for commercial mediums, which would otherwise need to be funded by the actual consumer of these mediums. For instance, a newspaper would cost up to three times as much money because advertising provides two-thirds of the revenue of the print media, and all television, bar government funded networks, would be pay-TV (since nearly ALL revenue for television is provided by advertising, while the consumer provides no financial support except for providing the service of watching the advertised messages). So we can see a major economic infrastructure based around advertising.

However, with every positive side comes a negative, and advertising is no different. Advertising has been blamed for a great variety of negative social impacts. One of the major criticisms received by advertising is that it forces people to buy things they don't really need, often projecting negative emotions such as fear, anxiety of guilt upon the consumer (Engel). It is claimed that advertising plays with our basic human emotions and takes advantage of them, using them as merely another technique to sell goods or services.

Advertising also encourages people to buy products by making them think that purchasing and consuming are the major activities of their lives. It is said to also evoke fears of inferiority upon the consumer by depicting the 'normal' person as young, attractive, wealthy, and successful. This may encourage a person to act on his or her desire for success and, for instance, go out and purchase that particular brand hoping to emulate the seeming success of the person depicted in the advertisement. In opposition, advertisers state that the public is intelligent enough to, and quite capable of, making up its own mind and will definitely not buy anything they do not want or need. People are not inclined to be swayed by false claims that they need

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