Controversial Effects of Advertising
The persuasive role of advertising is presumed to have an impact on society’s values and life styles. In determining the ill-effects of advertising, there still remains the issue of whether advertising creates negative effect in the society or whether it merely reflects the values and attitudes that are already existing in society. Advertising is probably effective in creating an image rather than changing society’s values.
1. Promoting materialism
Advertising is accused of promoting materialism by inducing people to attach too much importance to the material aspects of life, It creates the notion that acquisition of material things will gratify basic and inner needs and aspirations of the people.
2. Advertisements are exploitative
Emotions, sensual feeling, vanity, fear and awe, etc. are touched by advertisements. They also create negative feelings such as self-doubt, insecurity, envy, greed, lust, possessiveness and inferiority. It is better that they are rationally based, instead of thriving on emotional aspects of people.
3. Promoting Stereotypes
By portraying certain groups of individuals in certain roles, advertising becomes stereotyped. Women are usually portrayed as housewives or mothers. In a study done by the students of the Indian institute of Management, Ahmedabed, it was found that in a majority of advertisements, women are portrayed as housewives or as companions to men, thus apparently relegating them to a secondary role. Only in some cases they were shown as business executives or professionals.
Certain stereotypes may easily be spotted. In a number of advertisements, business executives are shown with cigars, which could be avoided. Also a large number of cigarette advertisements in India include women, either to give an impression of a kind of sanctity provided by them, or to create a romantic situation.
4. Advertisements are ‘children-centered’
Most advertisements are children-centered. Advertisement on chewing gums, chocolates, toys and tattoos, etc., use children. The well-to-do can afford to buy them for their wards. But what about the millions of low income and lower-middle income group children living in India, who have absolutely no means to buy them?
The major issues are whether TV advertising to children is unfair, whether it causes children to make poor product decisions, whether it increases parent-child conflict, and whether it results in undesirable socialization of children.
5. Advertising to Children
It is argued that children are more susceptible to deception that adults have and cannot objectively evaluate advertisements. Thus, there is substantial scope for manipulation of children through television advertising. Because of children’s limited ability to interpret the selling intent of a message or identify a commercial, critics charge that advertising to them is inherently unfair and deceptive and should be severely restricted.
6. Advertising and Sensitivity to Price
There is a belief that advertising dulls the consumers’ sensitivity to the price on brands that closely resemble one another. However, a study has shown that the relative price elasticity increases with an increase in advertising, implying that advertising actually increases sensitivity to price.
7. Inferior goods
Advertisements for inferior goods are sometimes flashed in a high profile manner. Several joint stock companies during 1994-95 lured investors to subscribe to their public issues. But for their high-gear advertisements, people would not have invested in such companies’ shares which are now totally worthless.
8. Advertising Creates Insecurity
Advertising can make people unduly worry about greying of hair, body complexion and odor, etc. They make them lack in self-confidence unnecessarily.