Advertisement found its footing in the early 1960’s when the Interstate Highway System was created. Along these roads, companies could build rest stops, eateries, and family friendly fun. With these recreational opportunities also came billboards, prominently displaying where you can get what and for how much. The society of the suburbs quickly became item-oriented, using materialistic things to build their home with their family and to compete with neighbors over curb appeal. Whatever the newest model was, John and Betty had to have it.
The innocent purpose behind advertising, according to Unenticed.com, is “simply informing people of the existence of products they might be interested in buying.” But anyone who has looked into the adverting business knows that it has morphed into a money hungry field of study. Those I have personally spoken to about what it’s like to major in advertising have said “it will suck your soul out.” It seems as though the message behind advertisements is no longer “look at this!” and now “buy it because you can’t live without it.”
It’s true that society’s susceptibility to advertising has always been strong, especially when looking at how young girls feel about their bodies when surrounded by size zero, flat stomached, flawlessly photo shopped models. Make Wealth History blog gathers that “With the average American exposed to between 500 and 1,000 commercial messages a day, it wields considerable power over what we consider normal.” Advertising has the power to change what we see as normal because you cannot be what you cannot see, and what we see is added to our mental prototypes. Make Wealth History blog also cites that “Research by Frederick Grouzet and Tim Kasser shows how advertising tends to promote ‘extrinsic’ values rather than ‘intrinsic’ values.” This is why advertising became so popular in the first place. Materialistic things with no meaning fuel the ego by giving us external validation. Buddhism and other religions similar to it recognize this fact and encourage the practice of letting go of material things in order to find inner peace.
However, we as a society forget that we can influence what is advertised to us as much what is advertised to us influences us. Without us giving in to the pressures put on us to buy certain things or look a certain way, companies lose money and the advertising business crumbles. The evidence of this can be seen by looking at pad and tampon commercials. Take a moment to watch their most empowering commercial yet. Over the years, women have made it abundantly clear that females are strong as hell, and capable of so much more than their stereotypes permit. In addition to that, take a moment to look at Subway’s most recent commercial for their Chicken Ceasar Melt sandwich, in which they explicitly say “raised without antibiotics.” The world has changed. People care about what’s going into their meat and how it will affect their body.
We are what influences advertising. We are not slaves to their product pushing. Remember that. You as an individual – as a consumer – decide what influences you and what you influence.