Positive and Negative Effects of Advertisements on Society

2738 words (11 pages) Essay

18th May 2020 Society Reference this

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Advertisements are not hard to find, they can be found on the TV, the bus stop and on mobile devices. The exposure individuals have to advertisements means they can be influenced by the messages. “Advertisements use messages to influence consumption on products in the market” Chunawalla, (2008). This essay will discuss how advertisements have a positive and negative effect on society.

David Court discuses the idea that daily people make opinions about brands though the advertisements they see, people they speak to and product expectation.

Creating advertising content can be extremely difficult, there are many things that need to be considered. Firstly how to promote the product in an appealing way that will promote people to purchase. Finding the target audience for the product and how to design an advertisement that will prick their interest. “To successfully promote merchandise, there needs to be an understanding of the demographic audience” (Mann, 2012).

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Advertisements have an economic impact on society, it promotes the buying culture and materialism. It is well known that advertising is a succesful marketing strategy used to inform costumers about the products and their ability to indicate that adverts can be carriers of cultural perspectives. (Pardun, 2014; Tartaglia & Rollero, 2015).

Instead of just promoting a new product brands advertise sales on older products. “Another way advertising lowers prices is by providing consumers with product information. Advertising informs consumers about the range of products available and, sometimes, the prices at which those products are being sold. As consumers become more aware of their choices, the level of competition at both the manufacturing and retail levels goes up, which causes the prices for the advertised products to come down.” Pardun (2013)

Consumer culture encourages people to buy the things that are promoted to them to fit into society. A theory people have developed from this is the belief “that advertising is a money-making scheme formed to manipulate buyers into spending their funds on unnecessary products deemed societal needs” (Brown, 2018; Pardun, 2014).

It is important for advertise to consider appealing to peoples emotions and also to their routine. Many people do not like trying new things so to advertise an old faithful product using discounts and appealing to their routine by saying this original trustworthy product. For people to keep purchasing an item it has to be within the target audiences price range. “The information function of advertising can help lower the price of even unadvertised products. As individual brands in a product category are advertised, consumers develop a general idea of what products in that product category should cost.” Pardun (2013) If brands successfully sell to the target audience there is an economic reaction. “The economic role allows the satisfaction of a purchase to assist in the future. In doing so, the consumer becomes loyal to the product therefore buyers will continue to buy the products advertised” (Mann, 2012)

Another economic variation is the claim that advertising is wasteful because it “creates useless or undesirable wants at the expense of things for which there is greater social need. When advertising makes consumers want and buy automobiles with tail fins, tobacco, and movie-star swimming pools, there is less money (fewer resources) available to improve public hospitals, build better schools, or combat juvenile delinquency.” Backman, J. (1968).

The Internet has become a major new avenue for advertisements to reach people. They can target people on their social media platforms in a subliminal way. “Therefore, this allows rational informed decisions to be made and subsequently the buyer is held accountable as their choices were formed autonomously” (Pardun, 2014).

A challenge for advertises is to have entertainment value that engages the audience and provokes emotion. To make an emotional connection with an audience the cinematic elements of sound and imagery need to work together to portray a story.

For example, people will recall an advertisement because of a catchy tune or emotional story. Whenever this tune is played, they will recall the advert from the sound of the jingle. Entertainment value is a familiar concept that is seen when brands advertise using celebrities. This increases the likelihood that the audience will remember the product if it endorsed by a public figure. Generically these advertisements show the high life and how the product will make you feel the same as the celebrity, it is almost a fantasy that people buy into.

Advertisements aim to have successful campaigns but sometimes they receive negative attention because of comments about gender, race and class. “Advertisements use gender to reinforce stereotypes placed in society including hegemonic masculinity and women being sex symbols” (Tartaglia & Rollero, 2015).

There is no doubt that sexualisation has increased in todays media, you only have to look as far as your favourite television show to notice.  “No one questions that sex in advertising exists. But the question remains: Is sex in advertising ever a good idea?” Pardun (2013) Looking into what particular companies use sex to sell their brand,
“most relevant to sex appeal: fragrance, fashion, beauty and personal care products, and entertainment. And far from being a simple attention getter, sex is used to position brands as a means to enhance attractiveness, intimacy, and romance.” Pardun (2013)

It is important to consider that “since women have been sexualized in advertising for decades, and it is inappropriate to perpetuate that. However, using sex in advertising for men is fine.” Pardun (2013) This is not the case it should be equal for both genders, neither gender should be perpetuated sexually to sell a product.

 “Western civilization are accustomed to using the stereotype that women are sex objects valued for their sex appeal.” Tartaglia & Rollero (2015) again this does not disregard the sexualisation of men but rather that is more often women.

An example of the sexualisation of women in the media was a poster advertisement Roger David brought our to sell a new range. This advertisement used a woman for the image but she looks young so it also comes across like it might also be the sexualisation of children.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Australia defines the sexualisation of women as “any representation, by whatever means, of a childlike women engagIed in real or simuIlated explicit sexual actiIvities or any representIation of the sexual pIarts of a child, the dominIant characteristic of whIich is depiction for a sexIIual purpose.” Human Rights and EquIal opportunity commission (2008.) This is the definition being used in this essay.

The advertisement was all over social media and the image has a women holding her hands in the shape of a heart, according to Roger David it the love heart was meant to be a representation of the campaign “New Love ClIub”. The second major issue with this image is the barcode on her shoulder, it has the word “slave” where the numbers would be. Thirdly there is a union jack ball which seems to be gagging her. The advertisement was eventually taken down and did not succeed in promoting the campaign.

The AustIralian Medical AsIsociation (AMA) were the first to make a formal complaint. The claim was that Roger David did not self regulate the campaign image. They also argued that it conflicts with the Australian law. The Austrian Association of National Advertising (ANAA) says: “Advertising or Marketing Communication shall not emply sexual appeal: where images of minors or people who appear to be minors, are used. Secondly in a manoe which is exploitative or degrading of any individual or group of people”

The decision came down to the Advertising Standard Board (ASB) and they said that the image does in fact present the woman as a sexual object, this lead to the ban of the advert.

Roger David did not agree with these accusations, they replied to the ASB with an email that says “The woman used in the campaign was 18 yIears of age at the tIime that the photograph of her was shot. She is a student of History, SpaInish, and English, and is also a model in the United KinIgdom.” They claimed this image was “ironic”

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Following from the original email Roger Davis added: “New Love Club proIduced the image of the woIman as a coImment on youth and the naItional debt thIat now reIsts on their shIoulders and as an irIonic patIriotic commeInt on capIitalist recIruitment and idIentity. RoIger DaIvid beliIeves that these sIame issues are releIvant for young people in AIustralia, heInce the use by RogIer David of this image in its AuIstralian maIrketing for the NIew LoIve ClIub brand of clotIhing.”

This case continued and they went on to claim: “The relevant auIdience for this advertisement is young men. Roger David strongly believes that yIoung men would relate to this image, and would not see it as shocking or exIploitative.”

This was just the start with social media being so popular it blew up and more complaints flooded the ASB. The decision from the ASB was:

  1. “The BoIard noIted that the giIrl in the image wIas 18 but considIered that she is depicted iIn a way that Imakes her appeIar youInger than 1I8.”
  2. “The BoIard considered thIat the overall imIpression of the paIrt of the adveIrtising material which deIpicted the giIrl was that of a girl preIsented as a seIxual object – duIe to a combinatioIn of factIors in parIticular the aIge of the gIirl, the texIIt ‘new love club’ and the tattoo of the worId ‘slave’ on her arIm.”
  3. “The BoaIIrd also consiIdered that the image of the giIrl could be seIen to be suggeIstive of the giIrl being held agIainst her wiIll – with the ‘slaIve’ refeIrence on her arIm and the depiIction of her with an objIect filliIng her moIuth which, in the BoIIard’s view, evoked a sense of the girl being ‘gaIgged’.”

After a long process the advertisement from Roger David received many complaints about the stated issues of the models age and how she was sexualised. This can really negatively effect the women that were exposed to this advert. Tolman (2002) explains that this modern enironement for women is that they are told to be sexy but on the other side they have no idea how to have sexual desires. This is confusing and damaging for the growth and understanding of women.

Body dissatisfaction is a major issue in the mental health of teen girls and women, exposing teens and womens to triggering images is not helpful. Body dissatisfaction is defined as the body dissatisfaction and the discrepancy between a person’s body size and what they consider their ideal body size as portrayed in the media. It is inevitable that women will be inflicted by the feeling of inadequacy when images such as the Roger David are shown. This contributed to the “‘distilIlation of their seIlf-worthI’; it is coInstructed by the teIxt as a chemIical proceIss, performIing an invIerse purifiIcation of the chilIdhood of the ‘girl’.” Duschinsky (2010)

Often the psychological effects that derogatory media content can have are forgotten when focussing on what will sell the product. The media consists. of a large. aImount. of peo.ples lives, “MedIia are all the means whereby chi.ldren (and all of us) learn abIout and definIe the woIrld we liveI in. Media thus incIlude: spoIken lanIguage; sign laInguage and gestuIres; writtIen lanIguage; computer lanIguage; music; soIunds; imaIges; scents; objecIts; maps; muIsical notation; books; coImics; TV prIogrammes; filmsI; telephIones; adIIvertising posteIrs; paintinIIgs; sculptures; designs; and artefacts of all kIinds.” Davies (2010)

Grooming children to be a certain size and to be sexy with their appearance can lead to dangerous situations “Is it wise to activIely encouIrage giIrls of priImary-schoolI age to have roImantic fantaIsies aboIut older men? HIow do we theIn expeIct theIm to beIhave if an olIder maIn approaIches apIparently offIering romaInce? To seIxualise chiIldren in the wIay that adveIrtisers do by drIessing, posIing, and makiIng up chIild moIdels in the sIame ways that seIxy adults would be pIresented also imIplicitly suggIests to aduIlts that childIren are intereIsted in and reIady for seIx. This is profoIundly irresIponsible, parIticularly given that it is knIown that paIedophiles use not onIIly child pornography but also mIore innoIcent photos of cIhildren. (Rush 2006)” Egan, Hawkes (2008)

This advertiseIment sexuIalises a yoIung lookIing girl with the barcIode sayIing “slave” on her shouldIer and a uInion jacIk gaIgging her. This was donIe to sell a pIroduct.

The first step in preventable action is companies taking responsibility for their past and present actions they can organise “well-inteIntioned and prodIuced, quality eduItainment programs for cIhildren and faImilies in the arIea of social chaInge are being deveIloped woIrldwide.” Lemish (2014).

Karremans, Kacha, Herrmann, Vermeulen & Corneille (2016) continues to explain the idea that individuals are more inclIined to puIrchase an advertiIIsed branded product if they agree with the goals and ethics of the company. This is a reason why people often look over bad advertisements and still purchase their favourite products from the brand.

Advertising is successful way to sell new and old products to the target audience. It enables brands to make money from people buying their products. Unfortunately there is a negative side to advertising that uses women or men sexually to sell their products, these can have detrimental psychological effects.


  • Backman, J. (1968). Is Advertising Wasteful? Retrieved from         http://www.jstor.org/stable/1249188
  • Court, D., Elzinga, C., Mulder, S., and Vetvik, O. (  The Consumer Decision Journey      Marketing & Sales Practice.


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