Social Criticism of Advertising

Advertising is often criticized as a wasteful activity and an unnecessary evil. Its critics offer the following arguments to prove their contention.

  • Multiplies the needs. Advertising multiplies the needs of the people by inducing them to buy even those things which are not required by them. Since an advertisement is continuously repeated, it creates a desire in the mind of the public to buy the advertised product.
  • Makes the product more costly. The amount of money spent by an advertiser on his product’s advertisement is added to the distribution cost of the product. Thus, the customers have to pay more for the product advertised.
  • Increase in demand at the cost of another manufacturer. Advertising does not always increase the demand of the product. When the demand is inelastic, advertising shifts demand from one producer to another. That means a large amount of money spent on advertising by the manufacturers goes waste.
  • Creates brand monopoly. Advertising may lead to monopoly of a brand. It is argued that big manufacturers who can afford large amount of money on advertising can create brand monopoly and eliminate the small producers.
  • Every advertisement is not creative A large number of advertisements either escape the attention of the people or are ignored by them. This leads to waste of money spent on advertisement.
  • Undermines moral values. Sometimes, advertising undermines ethical and aesthetic values. It may make the people start bothering for appearance and design of the product rather than the physical utility. Some advertisers also use indecent language and photographs to advertise their products which is highly objectionable from the society’s point of view.
  • Corrupt the minds of youngsters. It is felt that advertisement can corrupt the minds of youngsters. Young minds run the risk of being carried away by the advertisements promoting smoking, wine, etc. In some cases, advertisements have promoted the youths to commit crimes and undertake ventures at the risk of their lives

Despite its drawbacks, advertising is a necessary marketing activity in the present business environment. It is not a social waste. It enables a manufacturer to introduce his products in the market and sell them. Advertising helps in educating the people regarding new uses of various products. It also strengthens the freedom of choice of the people. It sustains the press and gives employment to people. Advertising increases the standard of living of the people by informing them about the availability of new products. Thus, we can say that advertising is a useful marketing activity. Its drawback: could be removed if the people and the Government keep a, watch on the advertisers. People should satisfy themselves about the claims made by a producer before they purchase his products. The manufacturers or the advertisers should also avoid wasteful advertising and keep advertising expenditure within limits. They should also follow the ethical standards while advertising their products.

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