Advertising: Information or Manipulation?

Advertisement is important and it is a slight market instrument. In conditions of the developed market when there is high a competition and when every producer tries maximally to satisfy consumer’s needs, the advertising can be a crucial factor in decision making process. In simple words, advertisement is distributing information addressed to target group of consumers about the product and its features. Nowadays it became a usual thing for almost every industry. If you look around, you understand that all around us is advertisement. And more often question rises whether advertising is information or manipulation. On one hand advertising could be informative in terms of new products, new features of the product, new services, why this product is better than of the competitor, etc. On the other hand advertising is kind of enforcing of the product to the consumer through manipulation tactics. Manipulation used in advertising is based on mental process of decision making process and it manipulates consumers to follow the will of the producer.

         Mostly manipulation works through senses, thoughts, behavior, attitudes, feelings, fears and desires. For instance, attraction may be pretty woman, desire to be a winner, to have social status, something completely pleasant, desirable on the unconscious level. But sometimes it may be something very strong, but at the same time shameful feeling such as a fear. These stimuli have an effect and influence purchase behavior of people. Advertisement manipulation has the following stages: first it is information, then admonition, next conditional reflex followed by the subconscious infusion. Final stage is that the consumer makes an automatic purchase after the process of infusion.

Also manipulation may go through frequency of the advertisement which the people face every day. Let’s view some examples: the person comes to a supermarket and sees lots of goods on the shelves, let’s take one good, a shampoo. He/she doesn’t know the features of each given shampoo, but he/she needs to choose one among others. A person will make a decision on the developed in his/her mind infusion on one of the given products or he/she will choose the shampoo due to its constant advertising. Or simply when a person needs some service but doesn’t know where to get they will firstly go to the advertising product. Another example – children are very trustful and their persuasiveness is very high. They are not able to understand and figure out advertising messages. They do believe that advertising products are accurate. Consequently, it might result in behavior, unhealthy eating habits etc. As a result of manipulation, people begin to choose only those products which advertisers offer, but not those which they want. It makes me think that people can lose their individuality, they could choose only from a list of possibilities – from that list which was dinned to their minds.

In the United States people have such view that advertising is a necessary thing, that it is a drive of the commerce. I worked in one of the shopping centers, and according to date from marketing researches, if people do not see advertising, then they will not visit that center, or they just think that if there is no advertisement than there is no people  and no commerce there. So, advertisement stimulates people to visit the center, even there is no any information from message, just a reminder. However, I can say that if the product is good of a quality, than there is no need to advertise it. The best advertising comes from people’s opinions. There are many examples in the world when good products and companies do not need advertising since people without it respect them and use their products. Overall, advertisement manipulation works well. Producers try to persuade people to purchase their products. And it has effect on people’s minds. People’s minds accept it and take it on their own, making decisions based on unconscious factors.


P.S. Advertising can also harm children


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4 responses to “Advertising: Information or Manipulation?

  1. Judy Le


    I had a student bring up the exact same point last semester; she was trying to negotiate whether advertising was information or manipulation—and I am on the side of manipulation. Perhaps the information part is inconsequential considering the deep cultural impact advertising has on our society.

    People spend a lot of time talking about how media influences our behaviors and attitudes but they don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about how our consumption affects who we are—and how our consumption is driven by advertising.

  2. Dan Alykeev

    That is a good point. I feel like this is kind of a subject that can be discussed for a very long period of time, and by that I mean a very very long period of time. But judging just by my own experience, I’d say I personally get manipulated by the commercials a lot. And I am sure everyone else is too.

  3. jarredmckinney

    Advertising has seem to become almost like propaganda in a sense. Many big companies get into big advertising battles and try to manipulate you into buying their product. I would say that there is some of an informational aspect to advertising, but for the most part it is manipulation to get customers to believe the advertised product is better than it’s competition. I agree with your statement that the best advertisement is word of mouth, but you say that the best products do not need advertising, and that is where I disagree. Somehow someone had to hear of this product, meaning it must have been advertised one way or another. I also agree with your statement that people tend to buy products that seem to be advertised the most, and I believe that has come from the lack of initiative of people to educate themselves on certain benefits of products that may in turn be better for them than the one they are buying.

    Oh, and go Gunners!

  4. Tori McCain

    Dan, the world we live in today has evolved in everyone being dependent on each other. Many years ago people would fend for themselves and not have to bother with their “neighbors.” Along with Jarred’s point, since everything has changed the businesses that compete must participate in Survival of the Fittest. American’s have always seen life in this way; that one person must win and so you must fight to be on top. That is why I believe advertisement is a necessity today. I agree with you that it is manipulation more than simple information, but when things change one must adapt. On top of it being manipulation to persuade one person to buy their product and not the competitors, it is also manipulation in the since that it is almost false. As in the video the McDonald’s cheeseburger looked juicy but in real life it is repulsive to look at. This is a sign that advertisement has taken a step too far. Another example: I saw a commercial just yesterday that the world had ended and the only people who survived were the people who owned a certain vehicle; manipulation at its highest. I’m interested to see what else these competitors will come up with next.

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