Advertising: The Art of Manipulating the Masses

An amateur’s attempt to criticize modern advertising

What is advertising all about? In one word: Manipulation.

Whatever fancy dressing of words one may attempt to give it, nothing would change the true meaning behind it. We never call things for what they are. Advertising nowadays is the art of manipulating the masses. Those who promote their products and services do not give the slightest care about who you are as a human being; you’re merely a ‘potential customer.’ Nothing more, nothing less. Well, at least most of the time.

In the 21st century, you can hardly find any sincerity or truth in advertising. A few hundred years back people used to live in much smaller and well-communicated communities. Almost all people knew each other in the places that they lived in. For a salesman who wanted to advertise a product, the means of communication would be based on social grounds. Meaning, the ‘customer’ was not just that. He was likely to be the neighbor, the sibling, the close friend, the relative, or the son of the salesman. Even if he were to be none of what I just mentioned, this ‘customer’ would still later on be considered as part of the group, so to speak. Of course, persuasion was evident and it was not entirely of an objective nature. However, it was a rational and sensible one. The customer would actually use his critical thinking skills to decide whether he should proceed with buying a certain product or not. Simply put, there was hardly any sensationalism. Things were more genuine. The salesman would care about the person he talked to and this would maintain the ties created. One used to be welcomes with genuine smiles and greeting. Today, however, one is only labeled as a ‘customer’ and nothing more. Even if one was to argue that workers still greet customers with smiles (or even hugs!), these would still be artificial. Do you really think that air hostesses smile because they like you? Think twice. Their smile and positive attitude is literally ‘owned’ by the airlines companies.

Modern advertising is of a devilish nature. And most of us fall prey to it. It simply kills our ability to think critically. Modern advertising too often addresses our emotions, not intellect. Businesses and corporations use various ways to persuade their beloved ‘customers’. One of them is using ‘idols’ or ‘influencers’ of a society as a means of persuasion. It seems that handing a piece of Kentucky fried chicken to Cristiano Ronaldo works just fine because soon after that, you will find more people having the tendency to eat that particular type of chicken. Another was of persuasion is using women as ‘sex objects’ (although I dislike the term, but let us call things for what they are). You can put a really attractive lady with costumes (or almost no clothes for that matter) right next to anything and you can easily make people eager to buy it. Let ‘it’ be a car, a perfume, a watch, or even toilet paper! People would be willing to purchase anything as long as there is an attractive model ‘next to it.’

Yes, you goal scorrer! Pretend you like our fried, unhealthy chickens even though you’re not supposed to eat them.

A third way of manipulation is the constant ‘suggestions’ corporations go for by repetitively displaying the product everywhere. All of these mechanisms are irrational. Yet we easily go for them.

I believe that one of the reasons for our flawed judgments about the things we seek is advertising. It is also one of the main reasons why many of us are nothing but consumers. I’m not saying that I’m not a victim here. Hell, I sometimes for and get myself a KitKat bar when on breaks. Embellishments have become necessities in our modern world. On a different note, I have my doubts whether ‘modern’ is the correct term to use looking at the way we’re behaving. We surely need to reassess the standards on which we rely when buying what we “need.” In the meantime, and until we reassess our standards, let us keep our hands on our pockets in an attempt to protect our money that might be wasted on something we don’t even need.

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