Advertising an evil: part 2

A

dvertising is not the same as marketing (the complex of commercial functions involved in transferring goods from producers and consumers) or public relations (the systematic effort to create a favorable public impression or image of some person, group, or entity). In many cases, though, it is a technique or instrument employed by one or both of these.Before penning the thoughts here, we discussed the topic informally with friends over the breakfast table. A lot of insights matched our line of thought but a statement caught my fancy. This gentleman said, “The Evil of Advertising is that it tussles the mind of the customer/recipient.”Can we buy this point? Many said yes that’s true. Read the next few statements in isolation to establish the correlation of subject/product with the advertising decision. There are examples like Hero’s Project flashing everyday on TV; this by the way helps the society solve the entangled thoughts about the fundamental issues. Isn’t this a little too forward for our INDIAN mindset, left parties will agree? So can we label this an evil of advertising because it twists the cultural values? Or we look at it as a social message? It’s the latter one usually. To sum up the above thoughts in a few words we can say that, lets look at advertisements objectively than subjectively! People in advertising spend a lot of time to allocate with ethical choices, and those choices are almost never black and white. They’re subtle, shades-of-gray choices. Its not easy to put up an Ad on air, it requires a lot of thinking, planning, consumer perception studies, cultural inhibits, social structure, economic background etc. We disagree with the assertion that advertising simply mirrors the attitudes and values of the surrounding culture. No doubt advertising, like the media of social communications in general, does act as a mirror. But, also like media in general, it is a mirror that helps shape the reality it reflects, and sometimes it presents a distorted image of reality.Advertisers are selective about the values and attitudes to be fostered and encouraged, promoting some while ignoring others. This selectivity gives the lie to the notion that advertising does no more than reflect the surrounding culture.Carrying forward the above conclusion, let’s ask our selves the difference between unethical and ethical advertising?  Notoriously commenting, Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public. There are no clear frameworks today where the system of self-protection of social moral principles will start to work. It becomes particularly clear if we consider the example of mass use of erotic and sexual symbols, gender, national and cultural stereotypes in advertising. Thus people land up comparing the myopic outlook with the broad picture that the advertisement looks at. The paper could have taken the form of a textbook that does not look at the flip side of the coin, but we dare to think out of the box and hence try to question the mindsets. For an advertisement to affect our buying pattern, perception and expectations of the product; it has to pass through the following stages:

  • Publicity of the product.
  • Placement of the product in the shelves
  • Advertising on a large scale.
  • Creating a viral network of evangelists.
  • Keeping up the sales figures by continued reminders.
  • Finding way to consumers’ home.

 A sales guy would think that the process ends here, may be it does for him. But for the manager kind of person, the actual test of the advertisement begins, when the consumer picks the product from the shelf. It is here that the perceived benefit must match the actual benefit of the product. This shall thus reduce the perceived risk for the repeat purchase. We all know this book lingua, what we are trying to highlight here is the fact that, it is the advertisements that create an image about the product/service thereby mapping a benefit structure in the mind.

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