The birth and growth of the media age has paved the way for numerous outlets for advertising. Millions of people reading magazines, watching TV, listening to the radio and surfing the web are constantly bombarded with ads for different products or services. Although the creation of media has given us great power and knowledge, we see its consequences in our personal lives and in society as a whole. Advertising has negatively affected society through its use of false claims and manipulation, influencing the next generation of consumers.
Some advocates of advertising describe that ads boost our economy and encourage competition among business. Although this may be true, it is at the expense of our impressionable youth. One of the largest consumer markets in today’s society is that of teenagers. Nancy Day says that, “teens establish buying habits [that] will carry into adulthood” (Source D). With an increasing amount of purchasing power, teenagers have been targeted by businesses wanting to integrate their product into the teenager’s lives. Teenagers are also easily swayed—yet another reason why businesses attempt to attract teenagers.
Advertisements negatively affect teenagers by presenting unrealistic situations and bad moral behavior. For example, teenage girls are influenced by stick-skinny models in magazines to have ultra-slim figures. This mind frame can cause unhealthy eating habits and disorders. Teenagers are also influenced to use alcohol and tobacco through advertisements. One cannot get through a commercial break on TV without seeing an advertisement for a brand of beer. Drinking alcohol is shown to be fun and therefore teenagers want to take part in whatever activity that is being shown. Advertisers claim that it is up to the consumer to make moral decisions. The advertisers simply present their products” (Source F).
However, it is the advertisers who “[spend] a great deal of time and money to study how best to attract and control consumers of every age, sex, race and religion” (Source F). This is in fact what makes advertising so dangerous to teenagers: its ability to manipulate. False advertising and exploitation are at the heart of advertising. Advertisers know that they cannot outright make false claims, because any claim they make must be supported by some kind of statistic, according to he law. However, advertisers can and often do bend and curve the truth for their own benefit and in order to promote and advertise their own product. Businesses have “[become] adapt at targeting every conceivable consumer niche and developing an impressive array of advertising and promotional tools to reach them” (Source B). Every day, millions of people are manipulated by advertisements into thinking that they are “unsatisfied” (Source D) and absolutely need whatever product is being shown.
Using their “psychological hooks” (Source E), businesses “push us to buy products that we do not need” (Source F) simply because they look cool or our favorite athlete or actress has it. Companies can also exaggerate certain features of their products or they can make vague and ambiguous claims that sound legitimate. Of course any negative features of the product won’t be mentioned. The advertising of cigarettes “promoted the continued social acceptability of smoking and encouraged the incorrect belief that the majority of people smoke” (Source B).
Pretending that everybody was smoking, cigarette companies left out information about health risks on their advertisements because that would cause people to not to want to buy their product. This kind of card stacking in advertising is not uncommon. The manipulative and false advertising has clearly had a negative impact on society. Advertising has come to be part of today’s culture and society. However, by influencing the younger generation, advertising had negatively affected society by manipulating consumers and presenting them with false or twisted views of their products.