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Impact Assessment of Advertisements Upon Society

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Published: Tue, 16 Jan 2018

The growth in media has lead to expansion in advertisement services over the years to much of the nation. Concern regarding impact of advertisements has grown in Pakistan and this study aims to gather data that analyzes its impact on the society.

We will learn that emotions evoked amongst the viewers by advertisements that feature female and male models in diverse sex roles is a primary concern as it has affected the social values present within our society. To be precise, immorality publicized through these advertisements has more or less deteriorated whatever was left of our religious values. Constant advertisements containing indecent substance has lead to people being prone to it which was bound to happen had no corrective measure been taken timely.

We investigate that how do children and teens perceive advertisements which change their psyche at a tender age. Lastly, the rulings of advertisements under the laws of Islam that is Sharia’h, are covered in this study which will highlight the ethical aspects which should have been an integral part of our society.

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

An Overview of the Topic

Research is conducted to assess the impact of advertising on our society. Since the dawn of advertising, complaints and criticism have run raging. Does it have a strong impact on society? Does it really influence and affect millions of people watching television, reading magazines and listening to the radio every day? The invention of the media has given us more power and knowledge, but its growth prompted us to think about its positive and negative impacts on our society. We experience its ramifications in our personal lives and in society as a whole.

Advertising function is not of current origin, even the Romans practiced advertising. The sellers in early times used their loud voices to catch the attention of consumers and inform them of the availability of their services.

After the development of retail stores, traders became more concerned about attracting sales and customers. Informing customers about their products and services was vital to increase sales. Hence use of signs on stores and other major places became a way to reach its customers.

With the swift growth in markets and increase in customers, the significance of advertising also grew. Different advertising techniques and methods were then developed in order to survive with the rising trend.

Advertising plays an important role in our society. It equally goes hand in hand with special responsibilities but the social actors do not fully understand the impact that it has on them. Advertisers are well aware of its society and hence use suitable techniques to reach its market. Few examples are banner ads, TV commercial ads, text messaging advertisements, online video ads and print ads. Each of these methods let advertisers offer a different way for a consumer to become more involved in the marketing process.

Every time a person opens a newspaper or turns on the TV, he or she views advertisements in huge quantities which results in more and more chances of being carried away without even consciously knowing it. The worst part is that most of the viewers are negatively affected by it at a subconscious level.

It is an important topic to discuss as to whether advertisements affect our society or not. There has been no research conducted in this field previously though this social issue needs attention in our society. The main purpose of this study is to know the relationship between how the society reacts to different types of advertisements and how it affects their psychology.

Advertising has changed in its function, mainly because of the switch from informational to a more expressive conceptual way to communicate with consumers. Previously consumers were exposed to informative ads which made easier for them to make a decision by exploring the positives of products and the negatives of competitors. The ads and their types have changed over time, now they come with more emotions and sentiments. This style of marketing and advertising carried throughout the twentieth century, with the introduction of the Internet and other technological mediums it became easier to cooperate and communicate with the consumers directly.

The internet plays an vital role in changing the strict lines between informational and emotional advertising as it allows its users to practice traditional informative advertising in many different forms, while encouraging interaction with consumers by click-through sites and links. The foremost aim of this research is to build a framework for an analysis of new media advertising that affects the society in numerous ways. The assessment will perform analyses of advertising and how it has changed the way consumers make decisions about products and services.

Societal actors such as parents and other individuals have a general viewpoint that advertisement, specifically TV advertisements have a negative influence on society irrespective of it being intended or unintended. These advertisements hold an immense impact and affect the viewers especially the young generation.

Usually the advertisements convey their message successfully. The audience captures the idea and internalizes it; the next thing they know, they are in the malls, buying the newest product or service advertised.

The effects of advertising may not look severe, but because of the subtlety of these effects, consumer minds are already absorbing it without realizing. Most TV commercials make use of well-known celebrities or beautiful models that consumers are tempted to patronize it because they want to be like them.

Advertising has positive as well as negative social, economical and religious impacts on our society. Viewing advertisements as a public welfare is a positive social impact whereas exposing women as a sex tool comes in the negative religious aspect. As far as economic factors are concerned, financing the media and motivating an vigorous and competitive economy are few major examples.

Advertisements promote prosperity but are considered propaganda simultaneously. For example Advertising can affect people by making them smoke cigarettes, and “support racial, cultural, and sexual stereotypes”. Advertisements try to persuade the consumers to buy a product through the use of subliminal messages, celebrity endorsements or evident signs.

The effects of television advertising are remarkable, affecting children, teens, and adults. These ads point out a person’s lack of something, instead of the products’ features. As a result consumers now are likely to purchase products to make them feel good and beautiful instead of buying it because of the product’s particular feature or value.

We all know that Pakistan has been created under the name of Islam therefore all social activities should be governed by Shariah. In accordance with The Holy Quran, fraud may occur if the seller fails to deliver anything promised in a transaction. Moreover according to Hadith [Sahih Muslim: The Book of Transactions], we can conclude that a true Islamic society is based upon honesty, justice and fraternity, and is absolutely intolerant of dishonesty in all its various forms. That is the reason why perfect honesty in business and truthfulness in trade are much emphasized by the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). It will not be an exaggeration to say that absolute honesty in business and commerce is really an Islamic concept.

Moreover The Holy Qur’an explicitly addresses the dress code for men and women. For instance in a verse of Surat Al-Noor in the Holy Quran states “And say to the believing women, that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they Should not display their Beauty and ornaments except What (ordinarily) appear Thereof; that they should draw their veils over Their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers.”

The above mentioned facts prove that Islam strictly prohibits us to provide any false, unauthentic and deceptive information in any form what so ever. It also forbids involvement of men or women in any form as it is against our religious beliefs.

People in society are influenced by most advertisements, and resultantly either they buy what they see or converse about what they saw. One of the major unfavorable judgments for advertising is that it persuades the public to buy things which are not their actual want. Advertising plays with emotions and encourages people to think that buying and consuming are the activities of life.

It is important to understand what the impact of advertisement can be on society. The impact on individuals depend on how much they watch, their age and personality, whether they watch alone or with others, and whether others talk with them about what they see and understand.

Questionnaires were distributed amongst the students, teachers, parents as well as the professionals working in corporate world which made certain that people belonging to all sections of the society were reached. Age was not a barrier in order to ensure that the feedback obtained represents the judgments of the society as a whole. From the 50 respondents in totality, the results show that almost half of the population admitted that the advertisements are a means of giving rise to materialistic values. Many respondents were of the view that they crave to have access to only those selected channels which do not promote immorality and indecency. Ethical and social aspect sections of the questionnaire mainly had an adverse response.

A detailed analysis of advertisements and its impact on society will help draw a conclusion that how social inequality is mounting amongst the people of our society and how it molds the psychic of individuals.

This research will provide a better understanding of how the society perceives and comprehends the selling objective of commercials. The main objective is to find the relationship between effects of advertisements upon society and their susceptibility of using advertised product or service.

Related Definitions

Advertisements:

Any public notice, as a printed display in a newspaper, short film on television, announcement on radio, etc., designed to sell goods, publicize an event, etc.

Advertising:

Philip Kotler [Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University] has defined advertising as “Advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services through mass media such as newspapers, magazines, television or radio by an identified sponsor”

“Advertising is the non-personal communication of information usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature about products, services or ideas by identified sponsors through the various media.”(Bovee, 1992, p. 7)

Society:

1. an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes.

2. a body of individuals living as members of a community; community.

Psychology:

The science of the human soul; specifically, the systematic or scientific knowledge of the powers and functions of the human soul, so far as they are known by consciousness; a treatise on the human soul.

The science which studies the functions of the mind, such as sensation, perception, memory, through, and, more broadly, the behavior of an organism in relation to its environment

Imitation of stunts:

Copying (or trying to copy) the actions of someone else such as an acrobatic or dangerous piece of action in a film, television ad, etc.

Eating disorder:

“Eating disorder” is when a person eats, or refuses to eat, in order to satisfy a psychic need and not a physical need. The person doesn’t listen to bodily signals or perhaps is not even aware of them. A normal person eats when hungry and stops eating when the body doesn’t need more, when he feels the signal of satisfaction.

Temper Tantrums:

Temper tantrums are disruptive or undesirable behaviors or emotional outbursts displayed in response to unmet needs or desires. They may also refer to an inability to control emotions due to frustration or difficulty expressing a particular need or desire.

Awareness:

knowledge or understanding of a subject, issue, or situation

Impulse shopping/buying:

Involves no conscious planning but a powerful, persistent urge to buy something immediately

Materialism:

The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.

The theory or attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life.

A great or excessive regard for worldly concerns.

Fraud:

Deception deliberately practiced with a view to gaining an unlawful or unfair advantage; artifice by which the right or interest of another is injured; injurious stratagem; deceit; trick. [Not able to deliver everything promised in the ads is also fraud]

Haram:

Prohibited, illegal. Mostly used in reference to actions as well as foods.

Haraam is that for which the one who does it will be punished and the one who abstains from it will be rewarded, if the reason for his abstinence is following the prohibition of Allah

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

Sandage (1972) worked as a leader in advertising education. He conducted a research on some institutional aspects of advertising. Advertising has two types of criticisms: 1) that which is directed against the methods of individual practitioners, and 2) that which holds that the whole advertising process is neither socially or economically defensible. Basically the society holds advertising accountable to inform and convince members of society in respect to products, services and ideas. It is believed that advertising manipulates consumers to follow the will of the advertiser. The positive side of advertising is the learning of consumerism which means it develops judgment on the part of consumers in their buying practices. Advertising holds a philosophy that consumers are not really competent of making wise decisions and that they would be better off if some supposedly more intellectual person or group made all consumption decisions.

Bijmolt, Claassen and Brus worked together to carry a study on children’s understanding to T.V advertising. They examine children’s understanding of TV advertising that is their aptitude to understand commercials. Children are watching more television today than years ago, and therefore viewing more commercials. Parents and other societal actors have a universal concern that advertisement, specifically TV advertisements have a harmful influence on early stages of life irrespective of it being intended or unintended. It is investigated whether their age, gender, parental pressure or any other aspect has an effect on the understanding of advertisements.

Brucks, Armstrong and Goldberg (1988) concluded that understanding TV advertisements allows children to use cognitive defences, such as producing counter arguments. While looking at the children responses to TV advertisement a research testing revealed that children’s food choices especially in snacks are based on their exposure to TV commercials. Persuasive strategies are considered techniques used by advertisers to get consumers to purchase. Teenagers have become top consumers in today’s society, so advertisers have focused on getting their business. Teens are able to spend their money more freely because they do not have the responsibilities of adults. They even have a greater influence on household spending, as their role in the spending of their parents’ money continues to rise. For instance, it is not unusual for a parent to send their young kid to the grocery store for them, giving them total control of product choice. Thus, teenagers are becoming big targets for advertisers due to their growing consumerism. Why are teenagers such big targets in the advertising business? The answer is straightforward: They are different. Advertisers view them as a constant changing generation with optimistic outlooks. They want to show individuality by their clothes and possessions, however fit in with their peers.

Hyman, Tansey and Clark (1994) conducted a research on advertising ethics as it has been, and continues to be, an important topic in advertising research. Advertising ethics affects the practice of our lives, and also the practice of business, in subtle and important ways. It concerns everyone including the academicians, ad agency personnel, advertisers, consumers, media personnel, and regulators, in one way or the other.

Dennison (2008) conducted a study to see the role of television in childhood obesity. The research in the study exhibited that child obesity has more than tripled in the last past 30 years. Although there are many other multi-factorial reasons for it to rise, television viewing is one the major factors. Increased calorie ingestion, poorer dietary quality and reduced physical activity are all results of extreme television viewing. Advertisements, such as sophisticated marketing of high fat, high sugar, high calorie foods and beverages are increasingly being targeted to kids and adolescents. These advertisements have been shown to have an effect on children’s preferences, requests, and short-term consumption of food and beverages. Foods such as fruits, vegetables or dairy products are least likely to be advertised.

Gay (1992) analyzed the effects of 2 People see advertisements all around the globe that try to entice consumers to buy products. Advertisements are placed in newspapers, magazines, schools, and on billboards everywhere. According to marketing consultants Stan Rapp and Tom Collins, on a typical day, a person on average sees over 5,000 advertisements a day. Advertising is simply intended to reveal the benefits of products that consumers wish for. It is fundamental to many businesses, as some would be unable to survive without a way of making their products recognized. Although advertising is accused of influencing consumers to buy things they do not need, they have the choice to purchase. It is up to the consumer to make sensible choices and develop shopping skills.

Alexander & Hanson (1993) came up with many questions which arise about these advertisements, such as “Is advertising deceptive? Does it create or perpetuate stereotypes? Does it create conformity? Does it create insecurity in order to sell goods? Does it cause people to buy things that they really don’t need?” Advertisers use specific methods to aim teen consumers, but these methods are not always doing well or ethical. Advertising is giving the general community information about new goods and trying to enhance overall sales, which increases the competence of the nation’s economy. It is supposed to be a significant way of getting the point across about a product and create incentive for individuals to buy. Advertising alone, however, does not get customers. It simply catches consumers’ interest, gets them to walk up to a shelf, and make an impulsive buy. There are several ways to research consumers’ behaviours, likes, and dislikes. Advertising reveals the latest fashions and the new popular novelties on the market. It exhibits perfect individuals wearing the new styles and looking superior. Consumers observe this perfection and envy it. Therefore, they go out and buy in hopes of reaching perfection. Furthermore, being an accepted member of society has become very essential to most individuals. For instance, the presence of body odour on individuals makes them an outcast in society. Advertisers use this knowledge to their advantage by developing ads that show a person using deodorant and being recognized as admired. Fear also works into the whole advertising process. Due to the fear by consumers that they will not fit in, they pay close attention to the new ads for the new looks, which gives advertisers more drive to make their ads represent the ideal person. Advertisers also insure that ads are simply informational, but many disagree and believe that they are definitely influential.

Anderson, Crespo, Bartlett, Cheskin and Pratt (1998) worked on a research and concluded one of the most highly advertised products are fast food and other food products. These advertisements have an effect on children’s eating behaviour and healthiness. Many co-relational studies have demonstrated an association between the length of TV viewing and levels of overweight and obesity in both children and teenagers. In order to control Childhood obesity, efforts to separate snacking or eating while watching television must be made. Public awareness efforts such as TV (screen) turn-off week are gaining momentum, as are local school, childcare and after school policies to limit children’s television viewing and use of other screen media. Specialists can play a critical role by reinforcing messages, supporting parents and families in developing and implementing time limits for television viewing and restricting the marketing and advertising of high-fat, high sugar, high calorie foods to children and adolescents.

Freeman, brucks, Wallendorf and Boland studied that use of harmful products among young people is on the climb. E.g. promoting specific brands of cigarettes is positively related to susceptibility to smoking. Another controversial topic with advertising is the fact that teenage smoking is on the rise. According to TIPS (Tobacco Information and Prevention Source), at least 6,000 people try a cigarette for the first time each day, all of which are under eighteen years old. Tobacco advertisements are being blamed for the increase use of tobacco by teenagers. Many advertising critics argue that tobacco ads do indeed influence and contribute to the number of teenage smokers. Most teens, however, disagree and believe that their peers are the number one factor in their decision to smoke. Since image is very important to teens, they assess what image their smoking friends portray. If they want that image too, they may also take up the practice of smoking. A teen’s attitude towards cigarettes is a considering factor, ranking over advertising that leads to teen smoking.

Ringel, Collins, Phyillis and Ellickson (2006) conducted a research on time trends and demographic differences in youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television. The key objective of conducting the research was to examine trends in youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television across different demographic groups. Firstly, the negative effects of usage include reduced educational attainment, increase in risky sexual behaviour and also increased likelihood of aggression. Aggressive alcohol marketing and advertising is one factor that is often cited as causing drinking. Among researchers, there is a general consensus that alcohol advertising is positively associated with alcohol consumption. Recent evidence suggests that alcohol advertising on television is increasing both in terms of the number of advertisements and the amount spent, with 90% of youth between the ages of 12 and 20years seeing “on average more than 280 alcohol ads in 2002.”

Jam, Akhtar, Hijazi and Khan (2010) worked together to carry a research on the impact of advertisement on children actions. The major findings were that it enhances the awareness of children and the ads targeted to children are not effective, for effective positioning of children related products marketers should target the parents and include ethical orientation along with environmental knowledge to influence the buying patterns of parents. They hypothesized relationships among media (Advertisements) and their impact on children memory as well as their behaviour of purchasing. They additionally hypothesized the relationship between children focused advertisements and their impact on product sales. Materialism, parent child conflict and unhappiness are most important impacts of advertising on children. There are two types of paradigms; the paradigm of empowered child and the paradigm of vulnerable child.

Buizen concluded that in the empowered child paradigm, children are viewed as expert consumers, proficient of critically processing commercial messages. In the vulnerable child paradigm, children lack the cognitive skills to guard themselves against advertising messages. In this research Co-relational studies have been used to do the investigation. A sad or happy commercial can affect the mood, and cognition of the viewer. He proposed a cause and effect relationship and found strong correlations between TV advertisement exposure of children and their purchase preferences as well as amount of purchase while shopping with their parents.

The Islamic law, Sharia, prescribes all that one should do (Coulson 1964). There are four major sources or roots of jurisprudence-the word of God himself in the Qur’an, the divinely inspired conduct of the Prophet (sunnah), reasoning by analogy (qiyas), and consensus of opinion (ijma) (Coulson 1964, p. 55-59).

According to the Quran, fraud may occur if the seller fails to deliver everything promised in a transaction. Advertisers are likely to show women in advertising if their presence relates directly to the product even if they are not appropriately dressed. The Qur’an explicitly addresses the dress code for women. The Surat Al-Noor-Aih-31 in the Holy Quran addresses this issue and states that “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they Should not display their Beauty and ornaments except What (ordinarily) appear Thereof; That they should draw their veils over Their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers.”

Kaiser (2001) came to the conclusion that society today is bombarded with sexual messages and images in all media which includes television, magazines, advertisements, music, movies and the Internet. Parents are often concerned about whether these messages are productive and healthy. While television can be a powerful tool for educating young people about the responsibilities and risks of sexual behaviour, such issues are seldom mentioned or dealt with in a meaningful way in programs containing sexual content. Three out of four prime time shows include sexual references. Situation comedies top the list: 84 per cent contain sexual content. Of the shows with sexual content, only one in ten included references to safe sex, or the possible risks or responsibilities of sex. In shows that portrayed teens in sexual situations, only 17 per cent contained messages about safe and responsible sex.

CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY AND ANALYTICAL CHOICE

3.1: Research type:

The research type of my thesis will be qualitative. Qualitative research is more appropriate in order to have comprehensive understanding of human behaviour and the reasons that govern such behaviour. The qualitative method investigates not only what, where and when of decision making but the why and how as well. Qualitative research is used to gain insight into people’s attitudes, behaviours, value systems, concerns, motivations, aspirations, culture or lifestyles.

3.2: Data type and research period:

The data used in my research thesis is primary. Primary research involves the collection of data that does not already exist, which is research to collect original data. In order to collect the data questionnaires will be floated to appropriate participants and interviews will be carried out of professionals.

3.3: Sources of data:

The unit of analysis are individuals such as parents, teachers, youth themselves since they would be the ones made to fill out the questionnaires from which the data would be collected and analyzed. Parents, teachers and professional psychologists are interviewed as well.

  • Customs
  • Ethical conscience
  • Personal Interests

3.4: Theoretical framework:

  • Effects of Advertisements
  • Economical Effects
  • Social and Cultural Effects
  • Religious and Ethical Effects

Persuasion power, use of cognitive defenses, producing counter arguments

Eating disorder; Craving for fatty, sugary, and fast foods

Promotion of harmful and haram products & services

Awareness Up-to-date info

Increase in knowledge for better decision making

Fraud, not able to deliver everything promised

Consumerism, Parent-child conflict, Unhappiness

Sexual info; use of women and female figures

Altered Preference

Consumption Pattern

Temper tantrums, when deprived of latest products

Increase in western TV channels & other ad mediums

Generate impulse Shopping resulting in materialism

Materialistic values in youth

Help improve diet, if healthy food product ads are convincing

Indulge in risky Behaviors; smoking & drinking

SOCIETY

3.5: Population, Working population and planned sample:

The Population sample of 50 people from all three social classes (lower, middle and elite) and age classes (children, youth and adults) would be selected. Both genders would be questioned and interviewed; Questionnaires would be floated to the Children (5years – 10years of age), youth (10years – 18years) and adults (above 18 years) would be selected.

Biases existed since people will not be willing to share their personal experiences and also because of lack of knowledge of the topic under consideration.

3.7: Research hypothesis:

H0: advertising has a significant impact on the society and is giving rise to social inequality β = 0

H1: advertising has an insignificant impact on the society and is not giving rise to social inequality β ≠ 0

H0: do advertisements create or perpetuate stereotypes? β = 0

H1: advertising does not create or perpetuate stereotypes? β ≠ 0

H0: deceptive advertising and materialistic values has increased over the years β = 0

H1: deceptive advertising and materialistic values has not increased over the years β ≠ 0

H0: advertising has brought more good than bad to the society as a whole β = 0

H1: advertising has not brought more good than bad to the society as a whole β ≠ 0

H0: advertising with the help of hard sell and soft sell approach leads to compulsive buying β = 0

H1: advertising with the help of hard sell and soft sell approach does not leads to compulsive buying. β ≠ 0

H0: advertising, with the expansion in media limits and expenditures in advertising has created a line between those who have and those who have not, giving rise to the sociological patterns of individuals (psychological) and society. β = 0

H1: advertising, with the expansion in media limits and expenditures in advertising has not created a line between those who have and those who have not, giving rise to the sociological patterns of individuals (psychological) and society. β ≠ 0

3.8: Techniques

Cross tabulation are similar to pivot tables. For primary data cross tabulations were used and were particularly useful for the interpretation of questionnaires especially when the significance of relationship between two variables was to be analyzed.

3.9: Data analysis and interpretation

The cross tabulations were run in SPSS software which helped to study differences across sampling frame as it was intuitive and easy to use.

All the hypotheses were successfully tested through the cross tabs for the purpose of deriving conclusions and making recommendat


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