Since we are discussing the latest trends in advertising, I would like to start my speech with reiterating a well-known thesis that advertising is an engine in progress. I completely agree with this statement. The only clarification I would like to make is that the engine cannot push anything forward if its morally and technically outdated. I am sure you understand my metaphor: to my mind, advertising is quickly approaching its stagnation period. Its principles definitely need to be revised. But you might ask me: why are you so sure advertising is in decline? It does sell goods, so what else should we be worried about? I am not naïve, but I still believe advertising could be more moral. It’s not a secret that commercials often appeal to human primary instincts and primitive desires; in particular, I am talking about the instinct of survival, the instincts of procreation, and an urgent need for entertainment.
Let me illustrate what I’m talking about. “Sex sells” is an old and trusted formula, but I think we are using it too often for products that should not be associated with this formula. Actually, today almost anything, starting from jewelry and ending up with building materials can be (and often is) advertised with a degree of nudity, mostly female. Or, when it’s not nudity, it’s an indirect promise of intimacy—a hint of it. At the same time, almost all commercials cultivate competition. They literally say the following: “To be the best, buy this” or “To be successful, try that.” And what is the main motive for competition? I believe it’s fear: a fear to be left behind. It’s a fear to be deprived of a place in the Sun, and thus sink into oblivion. It’s a manifestation of the survival instinct as it is.
Commercials appeal to our interest in thoughtless entertainment. The world we live in constantly generates numbers of stressful situations we need to deal with on a daily basis. We are not robots—we need to take a break, restore our strengths from time to time. Relaxation and entertainment are crucial for us. But there is a big “but” in it: advertising propagates the non-stop hanging-out lifestyle. It creates a new message: “Life must be fun! If it’s not, something is wrong with you.” And what is the salvation? Just go and buy another gadget, or appliance, or whatever else!
This is closely related to another aspect of the advertising world I would like to emphasize. I am talking about brands. What is a brand? Generalizing and exaggerating, a brand is a story told to a customer by a manufacturer. Brands try to convince us that there is whiskey for the successful ones; cars for the free ones; watches for the unique ones, shoes and clothes for the charming ones; tablets and other gadgets for the smart ones, and so on and so on! But is it true? Does buying a new Apple laptop grant you with any special traits of character? When a new model is released on the market, then what? Does your older laptop still provide you with uniqueness? Or you’ll need to take our another banking loan and go buy another piece of hardware? And besides, many people who believe the commercials and want those goods and those qualities the merchandise supposedly provides just don’t have money to afford them. They can either take out huge loans, or deprive themselves from what they want, always feeling worse than people who have those goods they are craving for. It’s a direct way to all kinds of neurosis! Is making people sick and unhappy another function of advertising?
What am I trying to say here is that the world of advertising needs to have some of its principles and methods revised. The overuse of intimate images and associations, cultivating false ideals, and deception are the main problems of advertisements that do not allow this media sphere to evolve and move on. I believe we can witness a stagnation of advertising, and if its not reformed, it will definitely lose in efficiency.
Thank you for your time and consideration!
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