Commercial advertising is a form of psychological manipulation rather than a source of information

Advertising is a form of communication included to persuade an audience to purchase products, ideas or services. While advertising can be seen as necessary for economic growth, it is not without social cost.

The most important element of advertising is not information but suggestion – making use of associations, emotions and drives in the subconscious, such as sex and herd instinct; desires such as happiness, health, fitness, appearance, self –esteem, reputation, belonging, adventure, distraction, reward; fears such as illness, weaknesses, loneliness, security or of prejudices. As said Robert McChesney in the book “The political economy of media” (2008): “All humans needs relationships and fears – the deepest recesses of the human psyche”.  

Cause – related marketing in which advertisers link their product to some worthy social cause has boomed over the past decade. Advertising uses the model role of celebrities and make deliberate use of humour. For advertising critics another serious problem is that the long standing notion of separation between advertising and editorial creative sides of media is rapidly crumbling and advertising is increasingly hard to tell apart from news, information or entertainment. The boundaries between advertising and programming are becoming blurred. The nature of advertising is manipulative. For instance, before advertising is done, market research institutions need to know and describe the target group and implement the advertising campaign in order to achieve the best possible results.

A whole array of sciences directly deal with advertising and marketing or are used to improve its effects. Vast amounts of data on persons and their shopping habits are collected, accumulated, aggregated and analysed with the aid of credit cards, social medias and internet surveying. With increasing accuracy this supplies a picture of behavior, wishes and weaknesses of certain sections of a population with which advertisement can be employed more selectively and effectively. Universities supported by business and in cooperation with other discipline, mainly PsychiatryAnthropologyNeurology and behavioral sciences, are constantly in search for ever more refined, sophisticated, subtle and crafty methods to make advertising more effective. Advertising and marketing firms have long used the insights and research methods of psychology in order to sell products, of course. The result is an enormous advertising onslaught that comprises the largest single psychological project ever undertaken. Robert McChesney calls it “the greatest concerted attempt at psychological manipulation in all of human history”. Advertising manipulations are located everywhere. No one can go anywhere without seeing at least one advertisement. These ads as are called, are an essential part of every type of media.

In conclusion I would like to say that we could separate advertising in two categories. Giving information through advertising about a product is the first category that is innocent when facing the customers. The second category has a manipulative effect on people. In this case is used to engage the mind of the consumer to motivate them to buy the advertised product. So advertising is more manipulation than information in the postmodern world. 

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