Mass Communication Process
Advertising (Chapter 11)
Advertising is a necessary market force that is responsible for the success of most, and involved in all, forms of Multimedia. It is also responsible for some of our most powerful and long-living icons that dominate the American landscape. Advertising, like it or not, is everywhere. It is on buses, billboards and hot-air balloons. It invades our living rooms, our classrooms and almost every aspect of human life. The average American is exposed to 115 advertisements during their morning commute. With this much exposure to the consumer market, one wonders weather or not this is good or bad for the population at large. Not surprisingly, professionals have disputed advertisings effect across the globe. In this paper I do not want to look at the effects of advertising as much as the techniques in which the advertisers choose to convey their message. I intend to argue and support that the several techniques used by advertisers are underhanded and, in some cases, downright unethical.
Advertisers use several different techniques for selling products. One can analyze these as persuasive techniques. This first point summarizes the oldest and most conventional persuasive techniques Most are considered perfectly ethical at first glance, but when you examine them further, things are not always as they appear. Two of these techniques include the plain-folks pitch, and snob appeal. These two techniques are used quite often. Both hope to attract your attention by getting you to establish a need for the products. In the Plain-folks pitch, advertisers try to make things appear much simpler than they are. An example of a typical Plain-folks pitch is Toyotas current pitch, Everyday; as in everyday people drive Toyota cars. The Snob approach, on the other hand tries to make you believe that upon the purchase of their product you will be accepted into the elitist society in which you always aspired to be a part of. These advertisements are used when advertising most luxury items. Another approach is the Bandwagon effect. This approach preys on the keeping up with the Jones fear that most people possess. It also relates to the feeling that if it is good enough for the majority of my peers, it must be good enough for me. Finally, and perhaps the most unethical technique is the hidden fear approach. This technique preys on peoples fear to sell a product. It is most abused by the low involvement products. Deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and other products that are easily substituted for by their competitors are extremely guilty for this type of advertising. A Deodorant commercial even went far enough to say if you did not use their product, you would be banished by society and forced to live the remainder of your life as a hermit. These hidden approaches are considered to be unethical by most experts in the field. These techniques incite irrational fears in people. The hidden fear approach still it remains as one of the most successful advertising techniques used.
Another way in which one can examine advertising techniques is through the Association Principle. The Association Principle is summarized by Campbell as the association of a product with some cultural value or image that has a positive connotation but may have very little connection to the actual product. (Campbell 361) This is also a reason that people are distrustful toward advertisers. Using this principal in advertising is just another way in which people are tricked into believing that a product is something that it is not. Cigarettes, when sold in Newport advertisements, are associated with people who have bright white smiles, who are thin, and who are having the most amazing time. When in reality, smokers have a forty percent better chance of being depressed, ninety-five percent of smokers are over weight, and everybody knows that a smoking turns teeth yellow. This is just a small example of the association principle, but you can clearly see how it works. In another example demonstrated in Campbell, The Gallo Wine Company advertised an entire line of wines featuring two older entrepreneurs as the owners of the Bartley & Jaymes Company. This company was a total fabrication that the Gallo