Unintended Negative Consequences of Advertising
Adapted from Olson, Erik L. "How
Magazine Articles Portrayed Advertising from 1900 to 1940" Journal
of Advertising. Volume XXIV, Number 3, Fall 1995.
Criticism 1: Advertising increases the
prevalence of materialism in society by:
- Creating new needs of desires.
- Spurring unneeded purchases.
- Increasing the propensity of people to judge themselves and others
by their possessions.
- Stressing conformity with others as an important consumer goal.
- Encouraging a throwaway society.
Criticism 2: Advertising encourages
irrational behaviour by:
- Encouraging instant gratification.
- Increasing short-sightedness.
- Reducing perceptions of responsibility for the long-term
Criticism 3: Advertising idealizes the
"good life" by:
- Promoting products as the painless way to solve difficult problems.
- Creating unrealistic feelings of confidence and power.
- Showing a standard of living unobtainable by most consumers.
Criticism 4: Advertising promotes the good
of the individual over the good of society by appealing to individual greed and
selfishness rather than:
- Community ethic.
- Cooperation among individuals.
Criticism 5: Advertising's incomplete
information, half truths and careful deceptions create general cynicism
- Distrust of authority.
- Disbelief in cultural wisdom and norms.
Criticism 6: Advertising reinforces social
- Portraying minorities and women in "traditional" roles
- Linking certain people with products, such as women with household
cleaners and senior citizens with medical supplies.
- Creating unrealistic "ideal" characterizations by using
models that are more physically attractive than typical product users.
Criticism 7: Advertising trivializes
community and spiritual symbols and values by:
- Secularizing and commercializing religious and community
- Reducing respect for family.
Criticism 8: Advertising uses bad taste and
questionable morals that can cause emotional and physical disturbances by:
- Using fear appeals that prey on feelings of inadequacy.
- Using an appeal based on sexual themes.
- Embarrassing the ad viewer by promotion of sensitive products such
as feminine hygiene products.
- Promoting the heavy use of products that are potentially harmful to
the health of the user, such as alcohol and tobacco.
- Using appeals that take advantage of the immaturity of children.