Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Tis the Season to be Conscious of Advertisements

One of the key points that Stole makes in his/her article was that without advertisements, we, as consumers, would not know which brand we should buy. Ads are essentially supposed to inform the consumer of the different products and of any differences that exist from competitor brands. Instead, Stole explains that companies try to differentiate themselves from other competitors by devising elaborate ad campaigns that creates a desire for the product.  An example that came to mind was paper towels. Why is Brawny better than Bounty or vice versa? They have the same qualities and price, yet Brawny is advertised as a burly, durable, and tough while Bounty is advertised as great for homes and families. Wait, what? Without the packaging and ads, the two brands are the same. Moving forward with how this is relevant to holidays, specifically Christmas, it has become evident that companies have used this holiday to tell that people’s loved ones NEED the newest iPhone for Christmas. What about the true meaning of Christmas? Advertisers have stripped away the actual meaning of Christmas and commercialized the holiday to conform to their constant drive for profit-making.
Corporate greed leads advertisements to deceive the consumers as seen in ads. From personal experience, online shopping can be generalized to be a modern loophole for false advertising. Whenever I shop and buy clothing, the model would make the shirt look really high quality and in a very nice color. The moment I get it in the mail, the shirt is cheap and looks ten shades uglier than what I saw in the picture that they advertised… not to mention that the shirt is a lot wider than it looked on the fairly thin model. With the introduction of the Tugwell bill and its reaction by advertisers, Inger Stole brings up an important point on the role and effect of advertisements for consumers. The Tugwell bill “empowered the FDA to prohibit ‘false advertising’ of any food, drug, or cosmetic. It defined any advertisement as false if it created a misleading impression ‘by ambiguity or inference’” (91). This is a response from the consumer movement that had their anxieties about the commercialized society that deceive consumers into buying ambiguously advertised products.
To tie these two ideas together, Christmas has become commercialized and we are being deceived that these invented traditions that advertisers have deployed are what we want. We are told what to buy for gifts and instead these ads are only reinforcing the status quo. The status quo is reproduced when ads create campaigns that targets a certain population but instills this desire of us and them.  These ads and the culture to buy things to gain social status is exactly what advertisers are trying to tap into. My takeaway on this article was that we should really question the advertisements that we are being bombarded by especially during this holiday season. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season but being a conscious consumer doesn’t hurt.


  1. These advertisements during the holidays definitely are pushing for the traditions, morals, and emotions surrounding the holidays. There's an underlying guilt when we don't buy gifts for our loved ones during this season because it seems so expected and so traditional to do so. The feeling that everyone else is showing their loved ones with gifts makes it so it's less about you but about those you care about. I feel like this kind of ad is more powerful because it feels less sinful (it's not "temptation") since it's not for you and there's a morality to give to others. Holiday advertising is definitely a part of the psychological warfare, playing to the status quo of holiday traditions and the emotions of consumers. It's hard to even tell if people buy more because it's the holiday season or because of the holiday season advertising anymore.

  2. Indeed! It's perfect timing, really, to conclude the course with an advertising unit just as we hit the run-up to the Christmas/winter break. If you have spent any time in front of a TV recently, you know that ads for jewelry, toys, and yes, even shopping itself, are escalating to their yearly peak in anticipation of holiday gift buying. Beyond a certain point, material goods and wealth really don't make us happier (think Maslow's hierarchy of needs... where do commodities fit in?).

  3. Like you, I have had similar experiences with buying things off of the Internet. It's very disappointing, but it also proves Stole's point that advertisers are not opposed to falsely representing the products that they are trying to sell. The fact remains, it is what it is, but if advertisers settled for this they would be out of business. Our culture is so susceptible and brainwashed by advertising that many members of our society are astonished when they find that the products they buy don't live up to what they thought they would be. Being that I work retail, I can blatantly see the powerful effects of advertising (although they are pretty apparent everywhere). Countless times customers will come into the store I work at (a swimwear boutique) and say something like, "I saw this ad in a magazine do you carry _____". It is also interesting to see people write off certain brands because they haven't heard of them, when in actuality that brand is often superior to the brands they have heard of.... Being in the midst of the holiday season, I would like to say that I am hoping for an increased awareness about the truths of advertising, but I know our culture is not there yet...

  4. First, I would like to say that I like how you related our reading to more relevant and contemporary issues! I certainly do agree that brand names can be superfluous, especially for items that are "parity products." It's frustrating to buy pretty, expensive things when I could save so much more money by buying the same thing from a lesser known brand. However, some brand names are useful in distinguishing which products actually work, and which products do not. The first thing that came to my mind was watches. I have found, from personal experience, that cheaper watches that can be found at Walmart or Daiso break more easily and/or run out of batteries more quickly. "Nicer" watches, such as those from Rolex, do the opposite... plus, they look prettier and are made of nicer materials! I believe that we need to give some credit to some brands out there. Yes, they are still much too expensive for me, but I believe that they can be useful.