Is having widespread advertising good for a society?
Advertising has grown to be an industry worth many billions of dollars across the world. Almost all public space has some advertisements in sight and all forms of media, from newspapers to the internet, are also filled with adverts. Whilst this helps companies sell their produces, and helps consumers to learn what is on offer, many believe that this huge amount of advertising can be harmful. It may make people want too much, or things that they cannot have, or it might make them feel inadequate when they don't have something. Research shows that children can be particularly open to these kinds of risk.
Arguements - The pros and the cons
The levels of advertising are just too much these days. You cannot walk down the street, ride on a bus, watch television or read your email without seeing advertisements. People shouldn't have to have their lives attacked by a huge quantity of information they might not want.
Advertising leads to many people being overwhelmed by the endless need to decide between competing demands on their attention – this is known as the tyranny of choice or choice overload. Recent research suggests that people are on average less happy than they were 30 years ago - despite being better off and having much more choice of things to spend their money on. The claims of adverts crowd in on people, raising expectations about a product and leading to inevitable disappointment after it is bought. Shoppers feel that a poor purchase is their fault for not choosing more wisely, and regret not choosing something else instead. Some people are so overwhelmed that they cannot choose at all.
People cannot just choose to ignore advertising, because advertisers use many underhand methods to get their message across. Posters have attention grabbing words, or provocative pictures. Some adverts today are even being hidden in what seem like pieces or art or public information so people don't realise they are being marketed to. By targeting people’s unconscious thoughts adverts are a form of brainwashing that take away people's freedoms to make choices.
Many adverts do more than just advertising products. Some try to make people feel inferior if they don't have the product, or if they have something which the product would change. Perceptions of beauty and fashion in particular have been terribly distorted. Many young people have low-self esteem, and lead unhealthy lifestyles because they feel they should be thinner and more attractive like the models they see in adverts. This leads to serious problems like eating-disorders and self-harm.
Advertising gives the impression, especially to children, that they can and should have everything they want. This makes people too interested in material things. People are becoming more selfish and obsessed with their possessions, and losing their values of patience, hard work, moderation and the importance of non-material things like family and friends. This harms their relationships and their personal development, which has serious effects for society as a whole.
Advertisers don't have the good of society in mind when they do their work - they only care about making profit. This means that they regularly advertise unhealthy or harmful things. Fast food adverts are a large part of the reason so many children are obese. The adverts just try to make children eat as much food as possible without any concern for the health costs.
Advertising gives an unfair advantage to big businesses. Small companies might have much better products, but they cannot afford to advertise them as well and so people don't find out about them. This restricts the quality of products for consumers, and places a huge roadblock to the success of small businesses.