The Discourse of Advertising Essay

3662 Words Apr 2nd, 2012 15 Pages
The discourse of advertising

1. What is advertising?

Advertising is ubiquitous – it is the air we breathe as we live our daily lives (Jhally,
1995: 79).

Advertising is a prevalent phenomenon nowadays that has gained the attention and interest of a large number of individuals in different societies around the world.
People are exposed to the advertising process wherever they are. Advertising is not only an ‘ideal tool’ for reaching people economically, but it is a device of attaining and maintaining contact with persons socially, culturally, politically and even psychologically. Therefore, advertising is neither an innocent way of selling products nor the primary factor which changes society’s attitudes and behaviour so as
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In other words, advertising is about information, but it is also about
‘appearances’; “advertising is not just about the objects´ appearance but about personal appearances: how we look at others, how we think of ourselves” (Barthel, 1988: 1).
Hence, advertising according to Barthel is about creating a relationship between subject and object, which means between the product and the meaning or the value it brings to its buyer - the meaning the product carries, which the buyer wishes to appropriate.

2. Advertising: detractors and defenders

The most serious offense many of depth manipulators commit, it seems to me, is that they try to invade the privacy of our minds (Packard, 1957:266 apud
Fowles, 1996: 62).

Like any other institution, advertising has its critics and defenders. There are many opinions as to whether advertising is a profitable or a negative facet in society. It is suggested that it is not correct that “all ads are socially responsible and dedicated to the furtherance of humanity” (White, 2000: 163) since publicity encourages “wasteful and excessive” consumption.

Critics consider advertising to be “powerful, persuasive and manipulative”, and judge consumers as being “unable to decide rationally what are their real needs and how to satisfy them” (Leiss, 1997: 34). In other words, the

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