Use of Propaganda in Advertising

Propaganda is a “systematic, widespread dissemination or promotion of particular ideas, doctrines, practices, etc. Some use it to cause or to damage an opposing one.” While it is true that many of the techniques associated with propaganda are also used in the practice of advertising or public relations, the term propaganda is usually applied to efforts to promote a particular political viewpoint. Additionally, propaganda can be used to promote specific religious views. Furthermore, companies use propaganda to persuade consumers into buying their product, and, sadly, misinformation is found all around people in magazines, on television, on billboards, and in movies. Subconsciously, people let the use of propaganda influence their decision to purchase items that they often would not buy.

Advertisers lean heavily on propaganda to sell products, whether the “products” are a brand of toothpaste, a candidate for office, or a particular political viewpoint. Although propaganda may seem relevant only in the political arena, the concept can be applied fruitfully to the way products and ideas are sold in advertising. All around us, we can see a lot of propaganda ads on television, magazine, newspaper, and etc. Propaganda is a systematic effort to influence people’s opinions, to win them over to a certain view or side. People have been influenced by the propaganda advertisements. Some psychologists’ point of view considers that propaganda is in fact changing our mind and heart, because they make our spirits full of material desires. For instance, sometimes we purchase something that we don’t even need because of our desire. Maybe we are not really aware of how big influence propaganda is in our daily life. Undeniably, propaganda alters our value of living. Therefore, we cannot under estimate the propaganda power.

Five Types of Propaganda Used in Advertising

There are five types of propaganda used in advertising. The first type is called bandwagon. Bandwagon is persuading a consumer by telling them that others are doing the same thing. An example is in soft drink adverts there will be many attractive young people having fun on a beach. This method is commonly used is cosmetics adverts, The use of a celebrity model and the affordability of the cosmetics sways the customer’s choice in investing in the product because the celebrity is doing it then it will also make the consumer look as good as the model. The second type is called testimonial. Testimonial is when a product is sold by using words from famous people or an authority figure. An example of testimonial is, “Nine out of ten dentists recommend this type of toothpaste. The next type is transfer, which is when a product is sold by the name or picture of a famous person or thing, but no words from the person or thing, for example political advertisements might use political party slogan to help sell the product. The fourth type of propaganda techniques that is used is repetition. Repetition is when the product’s name is repeated at least four times in the advert. The last type is called emotional words. That is when words that will make a consumer feel strongly about someone or something are used. For example, David Beckham sells his perfume by showing a romantic love seen and just putting the word romance on the advert. The five propaganda techniques can be extremely successful in selling.

Aim of Propaganda in Advertising

The aims of propaganda are to bring a message across to a large group of people with the intention to change or manipulate their views. These influences could be biased or quite untruthful depending on what the propagandist is promoting. The idea of propaganda is sometimes used to encourage or motivate persons where other uses are to present an impression that the propagandist what to create to that particular audience. Some forms of propaganda gives versions of the truth, which could be argued to be the same to advertisements, where other forms are almost untruthful and misleading. The benefits of propaganda can control and influence people’s attitudes in which therefore can often achieve the response the propagandist wanted from them. The effect of this can be very powerful and strongly mesmerising in terms of people’s beliefs to what the propaganda is promoting (even if this is not true). It also has the potential to arouse emotion and a personal response or attitude to the prospective offered by the propagandist. Then, the recipient affected by forms of propaganda would believe that the decision made by them was on their own and independent. It brings a message and strong motifs to an audience that if effective can overwhelm that audience and influence them profoundly. This form of propaganda allows people’s conscience to judge or make a decision, influenced through a message or image portrayed by the propagandist, which has the capability to change or manipulate your own views.

Propaganda in advertisements can be powerful and have an extreme impact on an audience. In today’s modern culture television companies limit the use of certain advertisements and have numerous restrictions, bound by law, to control and monitor the use propaganda influenced within the advertising campaign broadcasted. There are elements of the truth within the advertisement although such features that are found unknown or inaccurate become a distinctive use of propaganda. In contrast, propaganda has the potential to give versions of the truth and often matters that precipitate no factual information or contain little reliable sources. In advertising the product/message or image the company is attempting to promote must be truthful and able to trust where in comparison to propaganda this can be greatly misleading and untruthful to the extent of the purpose the propagandist is trying to create. These can include exaggerated misconceptions with the intentions to produce psychological, social and cultural change in terms of attitudes and views of an audience.

Therefore propaganda within advertisements, the message can be promoted on a much larger scale, with potential outcomes of public belief and national appeasement receiving the result the propagandist or advertising campaign had attempted to create. The technique using propaganda in advertisements would work well; influencing major populations to consume or follow the campaign published nationwide, change or alter attitudes or beliefs to the message and furthermore gain the support and trust to what the propagandist is promoting. It is almost impossible to imagine advertisement campaigns using propaganda to influence people to its maximum potential or maximum responsive capacity, where great audiences would believe and fall under false pretences of what the propagandist/s is promoting to them. If advertising was to comprise with elements of propaganda people would feel more inclined to listen, read or engage with whatever he/she were promoting.

The major aspects of modern world advertisements and promotion campaigns have been under the influence of technology and worldwide communications to support their cause. These such movements and developing opportunities in the future expanding through countries and the world are likely to have significant impact on peoples and populations in the propaganda and advertisement campaigning departments, readily available to promote and influence various audiences. Propaganda can be sent across in many and all types of media. Propaganda can be radio and television broadcasts, leaflets, posters, hoardings etc.

Bad Impact Caused by the Use of Propaganda in Advertising

With false advertisement on one hand and deceitful public relations on the other it is difficult not to be affected.  As an overweight person it was always difficult to watch infomercials with false claims of weight reduction, or TV commercials claiming their makeup would create a “flawless finish”, because inevitably it never worked. However, the media is full of thin, beautiful people with flawless skin and trim bodies. The result of the misleading advertising and the impression that perfection was attainable made the failure of reaching that goal destructive. The media impresses falsely that flawlessness is the norm and the epitome of beauty. Poor self-esteem often leading to depression was not only a personal and painful result of this perception but is an epidemic among young women across the country. The negative impact of advertising and the poor reputation of public relations officials created a general distrust of media in general. Public relations are supposed to be mutually beneficial, but when companies have been found guilty of manipulating events and information to suit their purposes only, they cannot be trusted fully. The lack of trust in the media fuelled a desire to actively research products and services before committing to them and to become self educated on public issues so as not to depend on the media for the entire truth.

It is a person’s right to know the truth, whether it be a product, service, or public relations issue. The self educating tactic turned the destructive force behind the media into an action of empowerment. Would this act of empowerment have occurred otherwise? If people were shielded from the media would they seek to inform themselves?  Maybe, but for the majority of the population the answer is probably “no”, simply because they would be unaware of what they were missing. The desire to seek out the truth is not there if one is unaware that there is an untruth to begin with. Furthermore, without the media world issues and events would remain mostly isolated. Our knowledge of the world around us is in great part due to the media. Admittedly, without the influence of the media esteem issues would probably remain though to a much lesser extent, but products would be less exciting and probably less effective than they are now.

Regardless of the annoyances and potential destruction that advertising and public relations can cause it is a reality that they serve an important purpose. Without public relations no one would feel the need to inform or educate the public at all regarding events that involve or affect them and the world they live in. Without advertisements companies would not strive to improve their products over the competition thus creating superior products. Without these driving forces in people’s lives there would be an information gap of incredible magnitude and a lack of creativity.  Although potentially destructive without firm operating standards, codes of ethics and legal ramifications, advertising and public relations are undeniably important aspects of our culture.

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