Are Advertisements to Blame? | Teen Ink

Are Advertisements to Blame?

April 1, 2014
By ThatOneWritingGirl PLATINUM, Greenwood Village, Colorado
ThatOneWritingGirl PLATINUM, Greenwood Village, Colorado
21 articles 0 photos 41 comments

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Since some people who view ads are more susceptible to ploys and manipulations, a common view is that advertising companies have a moral obligation to monitor how their ads may affect the masses; however, it’s not necessarily the fault of the ad itself. Some ads reinforce negative stereotypes; some convince people to buy trivial material objects they don’t need, and create unfulfilled desires. Those stereotypes, however, already existed. We created them. Entertained them. Plucked them out of their world of fantasy and fiction and brought them into reality where they didn’t belong. And those products people think they’re being tricked into buying would exist anyway, as would the influencing forces convincing them they are the key to being socially accepted. Whether through a commercial or peer pressure, conformism surrounds us. Ads don’t makes us greedy. That greed already exists. These fundamental facets of humanity merely facilitate the process for companies to use their ads as conduits to supply a message. Ads have the ability to promote such drastic effects because our own nature provides such an easy foundation. As a result of these faults, ads are able to manipulate and misinform the public, spreading harmful standards of what material objects a person must possess in order to be accepted or have an adequate amount of worth, regardless of whether a product is dangerous—like cigarettes—or just unnecessary—like potpourri. Society’s current competitive state gives ads the opportunity to have more pronounced effects than it should.

People see the world in different ways; therefore, their own biases and experiences tend to distort how they perceive their surroundings. One person sees an ad for Red Cross and is motivated to donate blood because of it, granting the advertisement a helpful and positive effect. The next person to see the ad, however, may interpret the words “Give Blood” in the center of the poster as pushy and demanding, so they generalize the ad as attempting to guilt-trip its audience, giving that person a negative opinion of that company. On the other hand, if a younger individual who has no yet formed his or her own solid opinions views an ad for cigarettes, he or she may be allured by the potential social acceptance broadcasted by the ad, and not being aware of the harmful repercussions, may adopt the unhealthy habit. An older person who is well aware of the dangers of smoking, however, may see the ad, and merely look away in disgust, immediately recognizing the company’s ploy, causing the ad to have no effect on him. It entirely depends on the individual what he or she takes away from the ad.

It’s easy to point the blame and paint advertisers as calculating villains preying on the innocent public. It’s easier to label ourselves as victims than accept that perhaps we’re the ones to blame. Perhaps ads are taking advantage of our gullible and easily influenced nature; but that’s not the root of them problem. The root is that we let them.


The author's comments:
What are the effects of advertisements in our society?

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