The Mirage of Advertising

Misleading AdvertisingThe great Aldous Huxley once said that it was easier to write “ten sonnets” for the “not too inquiring critic” than one “advertisement” for “a few thousand of the uncritical buying public”. Today, we have a full fledged ad industry that generates millions of dollars by annually pumping out thousands of advertisements for your favorite products and services. While advertisements have become a necessary means for promoting a product or service, they don’t always depict a realistic representation of the product. Instead, the advertisement simply represents the ‘ideal’ notion of the product and how it is capable of ‘improving’ the customer’s life.

This is the nature of the business, but at times these advertisements become misleading and false. This is especially the case when companies claim to be committed to their products and services, yet feel the need to “dress them up” on television in order to help sell them in the store. We have all seen the hamburger on television that looks perfectly grilled with the hot melted cheese, crisp fresh lettuce, warm bun, and just the right amount of condiments. It may look and sound quite appetizing on television, but in reality the burger is small, the cheese is cold, the lettuce is stringy, the bun is stale, and the condiments are sparse. The discrepancy between what is in the advertisement and the actual product begs the question as to whether these companies really are committed to their products and services.

The problem for the ad agencies is that today’s customer is much wiser and has a greater arsenal of resources to help them make informed purchasing decisions. Perhaps this is why advertisements are becoming more exaggerated and comedic? If a company can’t win a customer with quality products, maybe it can win them through catchy, entertaining advertisements? Regardless, customers are now turning to the internet and social media to find out about the products and services before purchasing them. This has challenged many companies to put forth a more “realistic” view of their products. The truth of the matter is though, these more “realistic” and “transparent” advertisements are no more realistic than their predecessors. They are still scripted and filmed in studios with good looking actors and photo shopped products.

It is up to us as customers to make informed choices when purchasing new products. We should be looking at the facts rather than the advertisements. Sure, an ad can grab your attention and alert you to a particular product, but that product should not be bought based on the advertisement alone. Do your research and see what other people have to say before you make the purchase. That way, when you buy that vacuum cleaner that was supposed to “change your life”, you wont be disappointed when all it does is clean the floor.

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