George Orwell, a famous British writer, was once quoted to have said “Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.” Advertisers of today have to try harder and harder to get the consumers attention. They have to “rattle the sticks” to come up with new ideas that will intrigue consumers. Advertising plays a major role in today’s society and causes one to think of the effects it plays on our minds. From shoes, to alcohol to underwear, advertisement has invaded our subways, highways, schools and world.
The main objective of publicity and advertisement is to sell goods and services. It is meant to inform and influence the consumer into buying the good or service. Often the product in the advertisement is compared to another, according to them, worse product. Consumers attention must be grasped in order to make them think of buying the product. Advertisement, made by companies, is meant for consumers, who, in turn, buy the product, therefore completing the circle. “Advertisement at its best is making people feel that without the product, you’re a loser.”1 Planned obsolescence is used to meet the ongoing, new needs and wants of the population. Obsolescence means out-of-date or useless, so manufacturers create new, and more advanced products. This leads to the other role of advertisement; informing the consumers of the continuous new products coming out on the market.
Advertisement has been around for ages, although most people are not aware of it. In Ancient Greece, people put up posters offering rewards for escaped slaves, people shouted out what was for sale in the markets, and when people wanted to move, “For Sale” signs went up outside their doors. In the 1440’s advertisement was revolutionised by an invention that changed the world; the printing press. Suddenly, handbills and posters circulated through the streets, becoming the first form of “mass media”. Then the radio and television were invented and advertisement began to play a more and more important role in the society of the time. On television in the 50’s, companies sponsored shows; Kraft Television Theater and Goodyear TV Playhouse, so that they had the attention of the people for half an hour! In today’s ever changing society, advertisement is also changing. Technology is advancing changing the forms of advertisement we see each day. From handbills to electronic billboards, advertisement has reached a whole new level.
There are many good things about advertisement. Advertising helps the company to sell more products, therefore allowing the company to make more products at a lower price. The consumers are able to compare prices and find the least expensive one. Advertising informs the consumers of new, improved products on the market and since the companies spend a lot of money on advertisement to influence the consumers, the work hard to keep their promise, ensuring the quality of the product. Advertising plays a major role on the economy of the country. By encouraging people to buy products, money keeps circulating and people are kept employed. Advertising can also promote safer, and more usable products that can improve peoples way of living. Advertisement can also promote certain aspects of the society that are a problem; racism, HIV/AIDS.
Of course there are negative things and aspects of advertisement. Sometimes advertisement encourages people to buy a lot of products that in reality, they can’t afford, plunging them into enormous debts. Ads manipulate people into believing that every product is important to have in one’s life and to strife for the look of the beautiful model, and not to be content with the person that you are. Certain companies sponsor events (tennis tournaments, car races, music concerts) that ironically sponsor things like cigarettes for athletes, and beer for the race car drivers. Ads offer no useful information, facts that we don’t need to know for everyday life. What it sells is images and symbols. The lifestyles promoted by certain ads (eating junk food) basically make people unhealthy or even dangerous.
Advertisements are extremely costly for companies. Companies pay a little more than million dollars for one 30 second ad slot during the well known “Friends” episodes. The Super bowl attracts more than 130 million viewers, and companies are willing to pay more than TWO million dollars for a 30-second spot. In the end, it is the consumers that pay for the advertising the companies do. When we pay for a product, the cost includes what it took to promote it. So here we are paying for a 0 pair of jeans and probably 0 of that will go to help the company advertise the newer version of what you just bought.
Advertisements have overwhelmed our society with useless, but captivating information. It does as much good as it does harm and impacts us everyday. It had evolved since its form in Ancient Greece and is changing everyday. Pretty soon, advertisements may take over the movie theaters, magazines, clothing, birthday cards, newspapers, subways, fridge magnets, and bumper stickers. Oh, wait, they already have!