ADVERTISING

DEFINITION

Advertising

A public promotion of some product or service

The business of drawing public attention to goods and services

Buy it now! It’s exciting! It’s new! Buy it now! Everyone’s buying it!

L et’s face it, advertising runs our lives now. Everywhere you turn, from the poorest countries, to the richest, some company is advertising something. Advertising is now a slick, mega-money industry, and the advertisers want you to spend your money on the product they are advertising. They want you to buy into the concept they have created, and they want you to spend your money – that’s all it’s about. However nicely it’s packaged, it’s all about you and your money. You’ve earned it. Now spend it.

Let’s start by talking about what sort of products get advertised most often. There’s cars, cosmetics, fashion, insurance, soft drinks and fast food. Then there’s credit cards, home do-it-yourself, holidays, and consumer electronics, amongst others; all things you don’t need, but are pushed as must-haves. There’s usually a smiling family, so happy they have just bought their new 4×4 off-road vehicle to run the kids to school in; or the immaculate model, who is smiling broadly, because she has just bought a new anti-wrinkle cream, just in case she looks like she has aged by one day!

How about the “cool and funky” advertising for new consumer gadgets that have smiling people playing with game stations, pc’s, or mp3’s? Cool music, cool people, cool products! And there’s always lots of smiling. After all, you wouldn’t expect the advertisers to put someone on tv who looked miserable after buying a new car, would you?

Forgive me for saying, but isn’t this all an illusion (the act of deluding; deception by creating illusory ideas)?

We buy into all this, because of the way it is presented to us by clever marketers, who just happen know what makes us tick! They know that peer pressure, and the need to maintain a high status, will keep you buying the latest products.

Whatever it costs, you will get it. Your friends have it, your children want it, your colleagues need to see you have it; you want your wife to be seen wearing it. Face it, all this is just for show.

Do you agree, or could you say you have to have the products advertised on tv? Do you think you could survive, or even live more healthily without drinking sweet carbonated drinks every day, or eating cardboard hamburgers? Do you think you need that new car?

How about the specially formulated shampoos with peptides, or that new platinum credit card that’s sure to impress your friends with the £10,000 credit limit?

Doesn’t all this make you want to scream? Probably not, but it makes me want to scream, because I can see it for what it is – a way to addict humans to consumer goods, and make them compete with each other for the highest status points – nothing more.

None of these products are helping the world become a better place. None of these products are stopping violence, reducing hunger, or helping educate children in poor countries; although I’m sure all these companies have foundations, or help children’s charities. After all, it makes them look good, and they only have to build an orphanage somewhere for everyone to say,

“See! Look at the good work they are doing, you shouldn’t criticise them. They are a decent caring company, even if the products they create don’t do any good.”

You may think I am just a bit of a complainer, but hasn’t everything been hijacked by advertisers? It’s impossible to watch sport, without a million brand names in your face. You can’t watch a programme on tv, without it being interrupted ten times for an advertising break; the internet is littered with advertising, and even the cinema shows them before the film starts.

One thing I only recently realised was that when you buy clothing, you are advertising the company for free, under the pretext of “fashion.”

Everything is ruled by companies advertising their products, and now there is so much money in sponsorship, that most sports would crumble if the advertisers pulled out. We live in a world, surrounded not by natural sounds, but by the constant bombardment of advertising slogans. Buy, buy, buy, they scream (in the nicest possible way). They entice you, they tempt you, they offer you something for nothing, they offer two for one specials, on and on, buy, buy, buy!

“We know you don’t need it, but you should have it. Everyone’s got one, why haven’t you? They’re fantastic, they’ll make your life sooo much better. It’ll be an instant improvement, go on, you know you want one!”

On radio and on television; in the newspapers and in the magazines; in the cinemas, at the sports stadium; in the toilets, on the train, on the plane, on the bus, in the shops, on the packet… you can’t get away. It’s a full on visual and audio assault on the senses: “You can’t escape, you will hear our message, you will see our message…” Close your eyes… And shhhhhhh, all quiet…

Shhhhhhhh…

You’re on an island in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but the sound of the ocean gently lapping the shore, the distant call of the sea birds lulls you to sleep; you feel the warm wind brush your face. You feel the grains of sand run through your fingers, and all the while, your body feels lighter and softer…

Ahh, that’s better, let’s be quiet for a while. Let’s turn off the tv if it’s on, or turn off the music, or put down the paper. Let’s just sit and be quiet, without the constant noise, and close your eyes gently… This is how we should be feeling all the time.

Nature is calmness, and although it can be fierce at times, the noise doesn’t grate like the sound of the ad-man whining, trying to get us to buy something.

Why should we listen to him? What right does he have to invade my home, my car, or my head? If only I could close my eyes and not be exposed to propaganda, for that’s what it is.

Unfortunately, I cannot close my eyes, for I need them to see, and I cannot close my ears, for I need them to hear.

So why do we put up with it? We just accept that we are bombarded at all times by this invasive noise. This pleading voice, attempting to appeal to our ego and our vanity. All for what? To sell some crummy shampoo, a box with four wheels to get you from A to B, a game console to avoid you having to talk to anyone or go outside, or a fast food meal destined to make you slothful and unhealthy?

The advertisers may even take me to court for slandering their good products in this topic! Remember, it’s all about money – your money.

They exist because of you. It is your fault people are subjected to advertising all the time. Why? Because they do appeal to your ego, they do appeal to your vanity, and you believe everything they say, and buy their products. Do you see? If we all stopped buying their products, they would crumble and fade away, and there would be no need to advertise any more. We need to stand up and say, “We don’t want your products, and we don’t want to listen to your endless self-promotion,” but you won’t will you?

You’re much too comfortable with all of their products that make your lifestyle just “perfect.” You won’t complain; in fact, you kind of like hearing all the latest offers on the tv or through the junk mail system. You like it, because they have addicted you to consumerism. They own you, hook, line, and sinker! You’re theirs to sell to, at any time of the day or night; they know you bought last time and they know you’ll buy again. In fact, they know everything about you. They know your spending habits, what you earn, where you live, what job you do, and you gave them all that information. You are responsible for the mass of advertising we are subjected to every day. You just can’t stop buying. The more money you get, the more you buy, and the more you buy, the more they want you to buy. It’s a never ending cycle.

Your children see something advertised on the tv, so they pressure you to into buying it for them. You want an easy life, so you buy it for them. Your child says, “michael at school has a new pair of sports trainers, so I need them too.”

You don’t want your child to be the odd one out, so you buy them the trainers. And on and on.

You 0 – Advertisers 1

Unless you say no; and it takes a strong man (or woman) to reject what is being sold to you; to close your eyes and ears to advertising, and realise what they are selling is an illusion. Their products won’t make you happy; they won’t make your life better, although you will feel the short term excitement from making the purchase. But as soon as it’s home, the advertisers know that it will be an anti-climax, and you will be rushing out again to seek the high of buying. It’s the same with every product.

First the advert, then the decision to buy, then the purchase, then the waiting, then the excitement of delivery, then opening the purchase, then using it for the first time, then several weeks later, the thrill dies down and you forget you were ever excited about it!

Watch yourself in action, see if the thrill of making the purchase is much greater than the purchase itself. So what is to be done with advertising?

How do we get back to a world where we had silence when we wanted it – visual and audio? Where people weren’t forcing us to buy things at every turn of the head?

Well, there is no going back.

Advertising is here to stay, and it will only get more prolific. The sponsors are already crawling all over our society with their (your) money, ready to throw it at anything they think people will pay attention to.

Maybe your school will be sponsored by a soft drink company (but will only continue funding the school if the children drink at least four bottles of fizzyade each per day). Maybe your house will start to have advertising on it, in order to reduce the cost of the mortgage and bring in some much needed money. Maybe your car will have sponsors logos, if they promise to pay for your fuel. Wherever you turn, there will be advertisers ready to hand out wads of cash, just for the right to put their message somewhere people can see it. If you don’t believe me, just take a look around you. It’s happened already.

Most of us now live in free societies, where people have the right to free speech and the right to go about their business without interference from any government source, so advertisers would argue that they are only exercising that right; but that doesn’t mean you and I have to put up with it. You may not be convinced about advertisers taking over our lives, and I respect your right to challenge anything I have said here, or anywhere else in this book. But all I ask of you, is to be aware of what is going on, and ask the question why companies put so much money into advertising? You may think advertising is harmless, and that people have the ability to make up their own minds when it comes to buying things, but let me ask you one question: If large firms didn’t advertise their products all the time, do you think people would buy them? Do you think people would buy into the need to have these products just because they look cool, or because people on the advert look like they are enjoying themselves (whether it be with a burger, a cola, or a credit card)?

So why do we buy into this illusion, by buying products we clearly don’t need, from these large companies? And make no mistake, it is large companies who are doing the bulk of the advertising and sponsorship in the world. No small companies could ever afford to pay for the kind of advertising campaigns put on by fashion, food, and car companies. First, there’s the huge cost of producing tv and radio ads; then there’s the cost of paying for slots to have them aired. These advertisers are making a major investment, and they’re betting you are going to part with your hard-earned cash very soon. I want to know what happened to us; I want to know why we have lost the ability to be individuals, and independent thinkers, and why we are so easily influenced.

At one time I believed that these advertisers were using clever psychology to trap us, but it seems they only have to appeal to our basic insecurities about fitting in, and our need to be part of the in-crowd (albeit a crowd created by them), and our need to show off to others.

Of course, the advertisers are ready with their slogans just to help you make that all-important choice in your life about yourself.

If you’re not wearing Brand X Lash Extensions this summer you’re a nobody. •

Everybody’s wearing Brand X shoes why aren’t you?

Wanna catch that special man? You’re going to need a special perfume! Buy Perfume X •

Wanna get tough and macho outdoors this summer? You’ll need a tough and macho car to match. Buy our new Macho Man Brand 4×4 •

Only losers don’t buy Cola X.

One thing we haven’t talked about here is that the only things you see advertised on tv are fluffy consumer products.

You never see independent advertisements talking about real issues and getting people to act. No broadcaster will ever play an advert that talks about cruelty to animals, cruelty to humans etc. they have too much to lose. Their station is funded by the advertisers, who would pull the funding if adverts were being shown that they felt were detrimental to their business. Would a burger chain keep advertising on a station which also had adverts for vegetarianism? Would they carry adverts for groups trying to stop deforestation caused by mass grazing, for these burger chains? Of course they wouldn’t. First, they get much more money from the burger chain, and second, they want advertising that is family friendly (i.e. fluffy, doesn’t offend anyone), and make sure that no one gets upset with graphic images of animal slaughter in the middle of the mainstream tv soaps.

Light entertainment, that’s what the tv stations provide, and they want light advertising that fits in with this policy. Only the sorry thing is, the products they produce – although innocuous on the surface, and glossy on the ad – are actually causing more harm than they let on.

Think Cars: Think environment and petroleum addiction

Think Fast Food: Think health, packaging and global food production

Think Credit cards: Think debt and poverty

Think Cosmetics: Think obsession with self-image and animal testing

I could go on, but I would like you to think about this for yourselves. Let’s see if you can really start to close your eyes and ears to the global advertisers who control our lives and what we buy. And not to buy into gloss and schmooze that is served up every day. Life isn’t about buying the latest consumer products. Who cares if your colleagues or your friends have got them? You will be different, but in a positive way. People will respect you for not giving in to propaganda. When you have got over your addiction to adverts, you will notice that suddenly you are free.

I found this out myself, and I was happy I no longer had to get the latest things in order to be part of the “in-crowd.” It didn’t matter; it was all an illusion anyway. An illusion created to make me think I needed these things, when in fact I never needed any of them at all.

One day, a company may advertise something we actually need to get on in life, but until that day, my eyes and ears are firmly closed. Whether I’m in the city, on the train, listening to the radio, or even watching tv; whenever the ads come on, I’ll be back in the peace and quiet of my desert island, replacing the voice-over man with the sound of the waves and the sea birds. Try it.

Remember. If you don’t buy their products, there will be no point in advertising them.

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