Module 6 Module 6 Module 6 Module 6
Module 6 Presentation Readings Assignments

Go on to Module 6, Part 2 - Advertising Techniques, Motivation
Go back to Module 5, Part 4 - How Consumers Make Choices - External Factors

Advertising Literacy

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Is Advertising "The Great Satan"?

Some critics believe that advertising is a menace because of the cultural and social influence it has on individuals.

Emerging research suggests that purchasing decisions and brand loyalty may be influenced by actual changes in the brain. This could explain why "information processing" from Module 5 happens for some products but not for other.

"The ardor of the ad business to adopt the technical tools of biometrics - measuring brain waves, galvanic skin response, eye movements, pulse rates and the like - is increasing as consumer spending, the engine of the American economy slows.

In other words, in hard times ads must work harder to move the merchandise."

The New York Times - "Is the Ad a Success? The Brain Waves Tell All."

Some critics believe that advertising is a menace because of the cultural and social influence it has on individuals.

Some critics call for the strict regulation of all advertisement, the limitation of advertisement to price points only, or the total elimination of advertisement.

"Advertising corrupts us and ... exploits trauma and can lead to addiction."

The ad below, from the organization "Adbusters", expresses the belief that America over consumes.
Deadly Persuasion

Click here to read Deadly Persuasion
Chapter One, "Buy This 24-Year-Old and Get All His Friends Absolutely Free."
Case Study - Porn or Pears?
This 1995 campaign for Calvin Klein jeans was extensively criticized as child soft pornography.

Is this 1910's ad of a nude young girl also child soft pornography?

What's the difference?

Pears Soap
Click for larger image
© A. & F. Pears

The Consumer's Friend

Others see advertising as a benefit to society.

"It helps people know about available consumer choices and helps them make more rational consumer judgments."

But even supporters of advertising acknowledge the potential for abuse, as "The BBB Code of Advertising" on the rights indicates

Advertising can also be used as a force to promote the social good, as the public service announcement below and the French AIDS awareness ad on the right demonstrate.

The advertising industry understands there's truth in both statements.

Click here to read "Inventing the Commercial". Print a copy and read it carefully. This article, about the birth of television advertising, helps explain the nature of contemporary television and helps explain why the contemporary advertising business looks the way it does.

Then click here to read "The Cunning of the Hand, the Weakness of the Heart." Print a copy and read it carefully. This article takes the extensive writings of advertising professionals along with extensive interviews and outlines the general theories behind advertising.

"My anxiety about advertising before reading this material was centered on trickery, deceit, manipulation. It is clear to me now that almost no individual ad deceives, though advertising as such is deceptive, and that individual ads don't operate by manipulation as much as by knowledge."

Of course, the author was not referring to "political" ads.

Advertising Literacy

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©2011, Terry Dugas

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