In the early days, advertising was seen as a portrayal of information about products via the media. This has changed. People want emotion not product -branding provides for this. Companies know this as they sell brands before products. But what is a brand? People want to aspire to the branding web of values and standards and ideals. BRANDING – set of values & image – people aspire to these tangible values. Seems to bring power/influence over others -street credit – money-flash – standards
How much power does the advertising industry have? Advertisers inject billions of pounds in an attempt to persuade us that their product is better or trendier than those of their rivals. The question of how much impact their efforts have upon us is a controversial one. By promoting products that are not needed, advertising encourages greed and envy, according to the critics. It helps create a wasteful society in which goods are thrown out long before they are worn out. Defenders of advertising say that ads are not that powerful. They do not create a need; they simply extend choice.
The changes in representations of families (row -not white, perfect), female equality, peer pressure, children want the latest ‘gear’, consumer pressure – some people shop around for the best deal -more competitive firms, they want quality – the best ideologies – a sense of power in society – dominance culture – some people want to be ‘flash’ and street-wise and want brand or perhaps value for money.
Although there is concern about the effects of advertising in general, there is more concern about the effects of advertising on children and youngsters. Teenagers are especially impressionable and venerable to brand advertising for products such as clothes, drinks and computer games. They have a strong desire to conform, and wearing the right product can give them a sense of security, reassuring them that they are ‘part of a group’. In some of my personal studies, I have seen that they want to maintain their individuality whilst upholding a sense of coolness, superiority if you will, about their position in their social group. They crave social dominance and to do this they must fit in.
Most countries have introduced rules to protect young people from being influenced by advertising in this way. ‘Advertisements must not lead children to believe that unless they have or use the product advertised they will be inferior in some way to other children or liable to be held in contempt or ridicule’ – Radio Authority, Advertising and Sponsorship Code. However, even with these rules in place, pressure to look the same as peers continues to make strongly branded products favourable amongst them. Sponsorship takes advertising off our TV screens and newspaper page, and into our daily lives.
The issue of advertising power extends beyond its influence over the consumer (the individual shopper). The media industry largely depends on advertising money to survive, so pleasing the advertisers can become as important as pleasing the public. Advertisers look for ways to reach mass audiences or specific social groups. The media’s efforts to meet the needs of advertisers can affect the type of programmes that are made, the time they are made, the time at which they are shown and the choices of stories that are featured in magazines or newspapers. With so much potential influence so many aspects of our daily lives; it is vital that the industry exercises its power responsibly. Many people believe that if the words and images carried by the media can influence the way we spend out money, they must also influence other aspects of our behaviour and the way we think.
These days, the younger generation have more of an influence than ever before. American Demographic magazine estimated that in 1994, children and young people in the USA aged 3-17 would have a spending power of $50.4 billion. Publicity is always about the future buyer. It offers them an image of themselves made glamorous by the product or opportunity it is trying to sell. The image then makes him envious of himself as he might be. The spectator-buyers are meant to envy themselves, as they will become if they buy the product. They’re meant to imagine themselves transformed by the product into an object of envy, which will then justify them loving themselves.
The purpose of publicity is to make the spectator marginally dissatisfied with their present way of life. Not with the way of life of society, but with their own within it. It suggest that if they buy what it is offering, their way of life will become better. It offers them an improved alternative to what they really are. All publicity works upon anxiety. The sum of everything is money; to get money is to overcome anxiety. Alternatively, the anxiety on which publicity plays is the fear that having nothing, you will be nothing. – (J. Berger, Ways of Seeing, Penguin, 1972)