The effects of advertising on our fragile minds

Advertising is a discipline that draws on knowledge of social psychology applied to marketing and attempts to guide every buying decision we make. Closely linked to influence and persuasion studies, it manages to change our habits, becoming a phenomenon that transcends the simple act of buying and selling.

The language it uses and the reality it shows us seek to respond to the wants, needs and motivations of an audience, which is generally not recognized as such.

Advertising is everywhere

Guérin emphatically affirms that “the air we breathe is composed of oxygen, nitrogen and advertising”. Advertising is everywhere.

It invades all spaces, settles in our homes, sneaks into our electronic devices, satisfies social media and mass media. He manages to conduct our conversations and thoughts, we play his slogans and hum his melodies. It is a protagonist part of our outer reality and our inner world.

Advertising as a social modeling agent

Sociology asserts that advertising is an agent of social modeling because, in addition to influencing purchasing habits, it accelerates the transmission of attitudes and values ​​and can even transform them. It transmits a hegemonic discourse, it creates for us a certain reality, a perception that will eventually shape our symbolic thought and also our desires (Romero, 2011).

however, the vast majority of us will hardly admit to being influenced by advertising. “There are as few people who admit the influence of advertising on their purchasing habits as there are fools who admit their madness” (Pérez and Sant Martí, 1995). Psychology repeatedly shows us that we are wrong if we believe that we are free from its influence.

Advertising illusionism

In the game of seduction, the publicist takes advantage. Know the frustrations, biases, and inner aspirations of your goal and turn them into the perfect packaging for a product that is supposed to correct any weaknesses in your customer. In this way, advertising not only informs about the qualities of the product, but also gives it additional values ​​that are not even part of it. It’s a kind of illusionist art, able to cover the product with a black light that hides or shows what the advertiser wants to show, not what actually exists.

Advertising plays a substitute role in symbol and product exchange, Make the consumer want the symbol with more momentum than the same product they think they need. It is fetishistic behavior associated with the need for distinction, status and recognition that we all have. Cosmetics maker Charles Revlon perfectly defined this substitution effect when he said: “in our factory, we make lipsticks, in our advertisements, we sell hope” (Ibid.).

Advertising is classist

Advertising appeals to class consciousness with its strategies. Each ad is aimed at a specific audience or a specific sector of the company. Each object is endowed with a symbolic value which is used to create in the consumer an illusion of social advancement if he possesses it. At the same time, advertising tries to avoid scenes of class division or social conflict in its stories, while forcing a fictitious social equality by creating products for any purchasing power (Romero, 2011) , categorizes the types of consumers and satisfies them with products adapted to each target.

Advertising also has a problem-eliminating function, or the “happy world” effect. Always try to present a beautiful, fun and fascinating world, in which consumption is linked to leisure, beauty and well-being, that is to say, it presents us with a “beautiful side of life” ignoring any other less desirable reality, de-dramatizing our daily life .

Know it to avoid its effects

In addition to its economic value, we observe how advertising has a remarkable social value. It is positive to learn to recognize its different values ​​to avoid possible harmful effects. For example, learning to detect when it can be used as an ideological leverage, or recognizing its class capacity when it categorizes us according to different types of consumption. Many researchers claim that advertising is alienating because it takes us away from creating new needs, or when it digests a certain view of the world for us.

The advertising of stereotypes and uniforms offers us models and fashions that we will follow en masse, corresponding to our criteria., Ideals and tastes. This is the depersonalizing effect of advertising, which homogenizes a society that wants to be plural but which, paradoxically, will take advantage of this unification to try, once again, to locate products that seek to give distinction and uniqueness to the buyer, as we all wish. be special (Carnegie, 1936). In this way, it brings us into a spiral of depersonalization-distinction from which it is difficult to enter the consumer market in which we live.

“To announce is to dig into open wounds (…). You mention the faults and we act on each of them. We play with all the emotions and all the problems, of not being able to follow, to the desire of ‘to be one more in the crowd. Everyone has a special desire “(Della Femina, cited in Pérez and Sant Martí, 1995).

Bibliographical references:

  • Carnegie, D. (1936). How to make friends and influence people. United States: Simon & Schuster
  • Pérez, JM, Sant Martí, J. (1995). Sell ​​something more than jeans. Advertising and education in values. Communicate (5) 21-28.
  • Romero, MV (2011). The language of advertising. Permanent seduction. Spain: Ariel.

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