University of Western Ontario Advertising A Double Edged Sword Comments on Discussion

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University of Western Ontario


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Advertising has been called the 'greatest storyteller in our society'. How much and in what ways does advertising impact you and our society? Does advertising have a positive or negative impact on society? In what ways?

Advertising is a double-edged sword. For businesses, advertising can help them reap more benefits. When I saw a burger advertisement that I had never heard of before, I drove 10 kilometers the next day to taste it, and I would eat it once a week thereafter. Advertising is a very effective means of communication. It will tell people about AIDS and when the COVID-19 develops, it will emphasize the benefits of wearing masks. Advertising has brought in an advanced manner of building awareness about any product or a service in the society. It has enabled the consumers to have knowledge about the service or the product before making any purchase. However, advertising can be harmful. More and more advertising models are thin rather than obese, which will lead people to admire a slenderer figure, and may even lead to unhealthy weight loss. For teenagers, Teenagers do not have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. When they see advertisements of luxury goods, it may lead to their psychological comparison. 

Same question

Advertising is around us everywhere in our day-to-day lives. From our readings, they addressed that the only time you might be free from advertisements is if you are at sea (not on a cruise) or in the wilderness. At first, I did not think that advertisements made that much of an impact in my life but then I thought about elementary school and how there was always a new fad. Whether it be the Tamagotchi’s or fidget spinners, advertisements played a major role in my life. We want to fit in and a part of it has to do with owning these products that are geared to us and help make us feel inclusive. Even today, even though my iPhone works perfectly I am constantly tempted and persuaded to upgrade and get the newer and better version solely because it’s cool and it's new. We as a society have become more and more materialistic because of all the ads that are constantly influencing us. Christmas has been a focus on gifts for many years but year after year I find that the other holidays aren’t far behind. Valentine’s day is about roses, Easter is about the chocolates, and St. Patrick’s Day is all about beer, especially Guinness. This is the power that advertisements have in society; they have encouraged us to associate everything with a product.

In terms of whether it is negative or positive depends on how we look at it. Medicine advertisements can be positive because they can make you address the health issues with yourself that you might otherwise ignore. Advertisements can also help fund events and provide more jobs but, it also creates a need for consumers that may not be there without them. It pushes people to focus on material objects instead of what really matters. The issue with advertisements is one that I do not foresee getting solved in the near future, advertisements will remain present in our lives every day and I do not see that changing. 


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Watch this comedy clip by George Carlin 5 min. Are we collecting too much 'stuff'? Have you thought about this? Can we change people's behaviour? Have you consdered why you make the purchases that you make? Have you tried to reduce your consumption?

1.Alissa Krafft (akrafft)(May 17, 2021 5:27 PM)- Read by: 5

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After watching the comedy clip by George Carlin, I think that we are accumulating too much stuff. I did not think about this until watching this clip. When we have the desire to want something, we almost never think "do I need this item?" We just purchase it almost immediately because the want factor over powers anything else. It really struck me when George said that we have houses to store our stuff inside. Realistically, it is why we have houses and the way that how much stuff we have accumulates can be crazy. We could change peoples behaviour by influencing that we think before we purchase. Sometimes if you give it a few days, you see that you do not really need the item. I find myself thinking "I am glad I didn't buy that because I wouldn't have as much of a use for it as I thought I would." In other cases, I buy something too quick and regret buying it. I find it happens a lot with clothing. Especially women, we love a sweater so much that we want it in all different colours. But do we really need it in 5 different colours? Probably not.

Being on a budget can really help with this sort of thing. It makes you more conscious of what you are buying and why you are buying it. This is one of the only reasons why I think about my purchases. If I had an unlimited income, I probably would never think about purchasing anything. The best way to reduce would be budgeting or asking yourself "do I really need this?" It can happen with food and groceries as well. Being a student, sometimes I buy way too many groceries for myself. It can be overwhelming having so much food to eat, but not keep up with it. In the end, I think society needs to be more mindful toward our consumption habits.

2.Shaan Prajapat (spraja2)(May 17, 2021 5:32 PM)- Read by: 5

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I believe that we are collecting too much “stuff”, and advertising plays a large role in this. Everyday, we are bombarded with advertisements - they take over public spaces, and they follow us home through technology, on our phones and televisions. I believe that this constant exposure to advertisements has normalized the excessive buying of products, especially ones that are wanted, and not needed, which in turn, causes us to have too much “stuff”. It has also introduced the idea of “consumerism” to society. Consumerism is the idea that material goods and possessions increase a persons happiness, wellbeing, and validity. Advertisers take advantage of this by constantly creating new products and marketing them to people, and these products are often wanted, and not needed at all, by consumers. An example of this that I relate to is in regards to technology. Every year, apple releases a new phone or laptop, and they flood the public with advertisements regarding these new products. These new products often sell very well, and very quickly. The people that buy them, however, often already have phones and laptops that work - they don’t buy these products because they need them, they buy them because they want them. People like the feeling, and the validation, of having the newest products, even though they are not needed. This idea of consumerism causes people to collect too much stuff, all because our constant exposure to advertising has normalized it. As a consumer, I often take a step back before I purchase something, and I critically think as to why I am purchasing it, which decreased consumerism. 


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What are your views on subliminal advertising? Do you think that advertisers use subliminal techniques in their advertisements? If so, do you think they influence buying behaviour? Should companies be allowed to use such techniques or should they be banned?


Mingaile Mickeviciute (mmickevi)(May 19, 2021 1:58 PM)- Read by: 5

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I find subliminal advertising to be quite entertaining. It’s interesting to see just how much we really can miss in advertisements. I found some ads were witty with their choices of subliminal messages and were more entertaining than convincing. In some ads, however, like the beer one from the lecture, I found that it was quite difficult to see even after the subliminal messages were highlighted. Then we have past ads where the subliminal message was quite sexual. The flooring company ad and the Coca-Cola ad were highly inappropriate. Especially with Coke, the product attracts all age groups and the message is very inappropriate for children. While the flooring company ad is much more sexual, children are not going to be as focused on that one since most children don’t enjoy the idea of flooring a house. I believe advertisers are still using these tactics today but I do not believe that they have much influence on buying behaviour. In the case of the KFC ad, I believe that it would work well because they announce that there is a secret message which makes it a fun game and motivates the buyer to choose KFC. If the viewer knows to look for a subliminal message, I think it would work well for the advertiser to influence the buyer. In ads where the messages are not announced, I believe are not as effective. I believe that companies should be able to use subliminal messages since they are already bombarding the population with advertisements so why not? Companies should however be banned from using sexual subliminal messages since it is not appropriate for all age groups.

2. Subliminal advertising is dubious but not surprising

Gabriel John Burchert (gburcher)(May 19, 2021 2:26 PM)- Read by: 6

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Subliminal advertising is the dubious side of advertising. while most ads seek to inform and engage customers in an "open" manner, subliminal advertising is sneaky. It doesn't want to engage with customers or even inform them of the product; it simply wants to change people's behavior so that they do something the company wants like buy their product. Traditional advertising does this too, but consumers have a level of awareness that what they are consuming is an advertisement, which can act as a mental defense to having their behavior manipulated. subliminal advertising goes around that defense without consent. We know that advertisers did use subliminal advertising at some points throughout history. I think that mild forms of subliminal advertising still exist. product placement would be a mild form of subliminal messaging in my opinion because the average consumer does not know that a product was intentionally placed in a movie, tv-show or song with the intent to raise awareness about it. Thankfully we have government regulations to protect consumers from the harsher forms of subliminal advertising like hidden frames in media or distorted sounds in music. These tactics absolutely manipulate behaviour because it makes people think about specific products whenever they realize they have a need for them without them realizing where the idea came from in the first place. it's basically like the ad companies are incepting idea's into their head like they did in that movie "Inception" - except it's "adception". I am glad that there are rules around most forms of subliminal advertising. I do think that product placement could be a bit more transparent in the media industry but the world isn"t perfect so I'm just glad that I am an informed consumer. 


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What do you think of the advertising ban in Sao Paulo? Do you see how it can cut down on environmental pollution and improve the look of a city? Is this something that would improve our communities? The predictions that it would have a negative economic impact did not materialize. Do you see any negative consequences of such a ban?

San Paulo Bans Outdoor Advertising.pdf


Mingaile Mickeviciute (mmickevi)(May 21, 2021 4:33 PM)- Read by: 3

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I think that the ban in Sao Paulo is very smart from a resident’s perspective. From an advertiser’s perspective, it presents a problem that can be difficult to solve. However, they can still get their ads out through radio stations and tv and many other platforms which I find are often more effective than billboards. The interview with the residents confirmed that this ban created a new appreciation of the city. You’re no longer distracted from all of the ads around the city and the bright lights from billboards. While it might provide less light on the streets, I think that it is not a strong enough argument to bring them back. In terms of pollution, flyers and ads are not beneficial in any way to the environment. They use up trees and end up adding to the landfills. I think this ban can be beneficial in all communities; it really makes you stop and take a look around your own community and helps you see more of what your city really is without all the distractions from ads. The economic impacts that were predicted did not happen so it is clear that this was a smart choice. In terms of negative consequences, I believe the only people impacted are the advertisers and the companies that are requesting advertising. Even so, there are still many other platforms where they can reach their audience without causing as much pollution.

2.I think the advertising in San Paulo was a smart implementation and should be implemented in more places. I understand how it improves the look of the city. I have seen many advertisements on the side of the highway that takes away from the naturally beautiful landscape. Instead of looking at the view of the natural beauty in that city, I am distracted by the advertisements and completely miss the landscape. This relates to the video where we counted the passes and didn't notice the bear moonwalking. Similarly, when looking at the advertisements I am unable to focus on the landscape of the city. I do think that banning outdoor advertising would improve our communities. I don't foresee any negative consequences of this ban. When thinking of my own personal experience, I do not think that advertisements on the side of the road cause me to order products. If anything I think that they are distracting when driving and could lead to car accidents. The removal of outdoor banning may help with distracted driving. I think that advertisements on the side of trucks should especially be banned. I have not seen a truck with an especially fancy advertisement on the side of trucks but the ones we saw pictures of in class (the Pepsi one, the aquarium one, etc.) were quite interesting to look at and I think that if I had have seen them on the side of a car while driving, I would be distracted looking at it. I personally think that banning outdoor advertising in all of Canada would be a smart and beneficial implementation. 


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What do you think about Benetton’s advertising strategy? Do you think they are exploiting various groups of people for the sole purpose of selling products? Do you find their ads offensive or creative? You will soon be part of their target audience. Would their ads influence whether or not you supported their company?

Stella Hanna (shanna56)(May 20, 2021 2:47 PM)- Read by: 1

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I find SOME of Benetton's advertising strategies absolutely ridiculous. I like the idea of putting forward ideas about racism, sexism, human rights, animal rights and the environment. However, in some ads that is not done correctly at all. Through these ad's i would have never realized that Benetton is a Italian clothing brand. I was born and raised in Europe and i don''t recall seeing their products.

I think they are exploiting people in disturbing ways. I do also find their ads very offensive. The ad i mostly found offensive would be the one of the Pope kissing the Imam. Although i love the UNHATE campaign that they did, where they showed people in relationships in which we would not see before. I also really liked the ad that they did with the skeletons for PRIDE month where they had people go behind an X-Ray and kiss and then it would be revealed who was behind it.

I think they went very far when including the Pope and the Imam as that is just plain disrespect to members of the Catholic and Muslim faith. The ads that they use have absolutely influenced me in a way that I will be ensuring not to support their company in any way. It is absurd that they know that these ads are very offensive yet simply "do not care". As mentioned in our lecture, they have selective ads that they show in different countries and i think if the ads regarding religion were to be shown in the middle east (mostly conservative) they would be in very big trouble.< Previous ConversationNext Conversation >

2. Benetton's Ads

Trevor Ryan Lozon (tlozon2)(May 20, 2021 6:52 PM)- Read by: 1

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After today's class, I can certainly say that I was left with a surprised look on my face at the advertisements done by Benetton. I've never heard of Benetton until today and after learning about the advertisement stunts he pulled I am certainly interested in learning more about the company and what its strategies/goals are. The way that Benetton went about using its advertisements to gain the attention of people is certainly very effective as I find shock value advertisements are very effective in gaining the attention of people, even if it is only for that short moment where you simply cannot believe what you saw. However, I do have some criticisms of their approach.

While I do enjoy ads that look to stand out and be unique from the same overdone ads, Benetton takes serious matters of racism, sexism, and life & death and use them for the purpose of selling their clothing. Using problematic topics in a light-hearted manner such as domestic abuse and racism as a selling strategy is unethical in a world where these oppressive situations are real and leave survivors feeling oppressed, scared, and sometimes depressed. I cannot speak on behalf of women who have experienced domestic abuse, but if I were a woman seeing a man being physically abusive to his wife as a selling strategy for clothing, I would feel scared, worried, and possibly even ashamed.

Perhaps if the ads aimed more at bringing to light the harsh realities of these difficult topics rather than looking to promote a new fashion line would make the content more appropriate for what it is trying to depict/promote. For example, think back to those Sarah McLachlan puppy commercials, where sad music is played over sad animals. Now imagine if the ads were actually to promote a new line of designer bags. I feel the message/topic in the situation loses all its punch as consumers see past the content and see that the point was to see them a product, rather than tackle the issue(s) that was presented. 

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Explanation & Answer

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Discussion #1
1. Hi! I definitely agree that advertising is a double-edged sword. On one hand, advertising
can help spread advocacies and awareness on certain issues, however, advertising can
also manipulate its audiences into purchasing something they do not need. However,
what is important is that advertisements are truthful in order to be ethically moral.
2. Hello! I agree with you because advertising can be used for good or bad, depending on
how the advertisements are made. While advertisements may have particular advocacies
or causes that they are fighting for, some advertisements may tend to manipulate
information in order to sell ...

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