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Is advertising communication science or manipulation?

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Advertising is everywhere.  We can’t escape it.  Even if you don’t watch the TV, listen to the radio or read newspapers, you will still be bombarded with advertising just by walking down the street!  It’s on buses, bus stops, road sides, buildings and even cars.

On one hand it’s can be a good thing.  It lets us know about a product or service that could be of interest to us.  We might not stumble across this useful product by ourselves if it hadn’t of been for the advertisement.  But on the other hand we can be coerced into buying products we don’t really need, but think we need.  It can result in us wasting money or thinking we need to afford lifestyles that we, well, can’t afford.

In a nutshell, advertising as we now know it is about manipulating the consumer. This is down to the fact that advertisers no longer care about the consumers but instead, they are driven by results and money.

We now live in an era where advertising is no longer about the truth or honesty. This puts it a long way from where it used to be because the world is now a lot bigger. In years gone by, advertising was more of an intimate process. This is because businesses would not target the masses but instead, they would operate in small social circles. Therefore, the chances are that the consumer was a relative or a friend. The whole idea behind advertising was still the same as they still had to persuade people to purchase but the approach was different, taking on a more considerate approach. 

The consumer would spend time thinking about whether they would need the product or not. Everything had an honest feel to it. There was a level of care that came from the salesman and that would help them to sell and from here, relationships with consumers would be forged.

Today, things are different and consumers are nothing more than a number. Yes, workers still have to put on a front when it comes to greeting customers but there is no sincerity there. These people are not smiling or saying hello because they want to get to know you. They do it because they are told to do it and so, it is all a front.  They need to succeed at their job to make money and it’s their job to persuade you to buy whatever it is that they’re selling.

Modern advertising as we know it preys on individuals. It stalks and hunts and almost makes us feel as though we are unable to make the decision for ourselves. It plays with emotions instead of allowing us to call on our own intellect.

Businesses adopt a number of methods that work by persuading customers. They use television ads, banners and even social media. Brands now use influencers as part of their advertising strategy. You could give a bag of soil to the biggest celebrity in the world and everyone will be rushing to the store to buy it. Why? Because they have to have it because their favourite influencer has it and recommends it.

I really hope not everyone is sucked in by advertising like this.  Sure, watch adverts and evaluate whether the product will really make a difference in your life, but make a conscious decision.  Don’t just rush to buy something because someone you admire has it!  Be your own self and make your own choices.  Decide on your own whether something will add value to your life or whether it’s just a fad and a waste of your hard earned cash.

Visually, advertisers play with our emotions. Add in a half-dressed female and aftershaves will fly off the shelves, despite us having no idea what it even smells like. If people feel that their emotions have been ignited then they will succumb to these veiled, or not so veiled, advertising tactics.

Finally, brands and businesses also manipulate consumers through suggestions. By placing their product almost everywhere, we cannot avoid them and that puts them at the front of our thoughts. If we see a strategically placed can of soft drink, then the next time we are thirsty, we almost pick it up without even thinking about it; suggestive advertising at its very best.

Are you a sucker for a pretty package and a persuasive advert?  Or do you make your own purchasing decisions without influence?

Perhaps we no longer even know ourselves as we could have seen an advert for the thing we are buying, but we’ve forgotten about the ad.

Perhaps we now have an inability to make judgements ourselves and that could be down to advertising. This is why we become consumers and just a number and not the friendly neighbour purchasing an item from someone we know. 

We find ourselves buying gadgets we don’t need and consuming foods we once didn’t choose, all because of advertising. So, is it communication science or manipulation?

The truth is, the jury is still out but many of us do fall for the advertising tricks of the big organisations and with that comes manipulation. So, if we kept our money in our pocket just a little longer, we might find that advertisers will take a personal approach once again.