Advertisement is a marketing concept that bridges the production process and sale of products, as a promotional activity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines advertisement as “a person or thing that shows how good or effective something is”. It could also be “the act or process of presenting a film or written notice to the public to help sell a product or make an announcement”. The ongoing debate on whether the advertisement is a good or bad thing appears to have no end. Various scholars have differed on the ethical issues revolving around the influence advertisers have in terms of persuasion, the social consequences and their pervasive nature.
There is no doubt that the advertisement has its disadvantages; however, I am in consensus with the school of thought which supports the concept of advertising. To begin with, the advertisement is an important link for any company with its clients or customers. Advertising creates awareness about the existence of a given organization, its operations and products. Hence opening up its market base. Advertisements can thus be said to be informative as well. They bring to consumers' attention to the existence of a particular product or service that can meet their needs. Pujari acknowledges that advertising is a medium through which people get information about new products. In the absence of advertisement, companies would lack the avenue to communicate to their potential customers, and the consumers would have no knowledge of the sources of satisfaction for their needs. Moreover, the consumer information collected can be a source of data for important government statistics, such as the computation of the purchasing power of its citizens. As Kenner (590-15) states, “Of course, once personal information is gathered, it can be used for purposes other than selling products”.
Advertisements are creative and entertaining. They are designed to be appealing and captivating to the target audiences. This provides a sense of entertainment to television viewers in between programs and to commuters who pass by billboards and screens along the way. Some advertisements have a comic relief. This has an additional benefit of availing the opportunity to explore and develop the talents and skills of those who come up with the creative forms of advertisement.
In addition to this, the advertisement has great economic benefits. As O'Reilly (597-14) puts it, "At the high end, advertising has to give you something substantive back in exchange for your attention". Advertisement injects income into the economy, both at an individual and national level. Marketing and advertisement firms generate revenue thus pay corporate tax to the government. These firms are also a source of employment for many people, thus a source of income for those employed in them. O'Reilly (597-14) further states "The ad revenue should be ploughed back into creative productionThe ads in news programs fund the travel and salaries of the news gatherers around the world. The ads in magazines fund the magazine content. Ads in a newspaper pay the reporters’ salaries”. Kaldor (vol.8) also discusses the economic aspects of advertising in terms of economies of scales. He stated that companies derive cost advantages to espanding and producing more, from advertisements.
The opposing school of thought argues against advertisement with matters like their boring, dull and repetitive nature, or environmental destruction, or infringement of privacy. These are matters that can be dealt with. Consumers’ opinions are greatly valued by companies. Those who perceive advertisements as dull and boring have the freedom to convey their ideas to the specific companies. Moreover, what is boring to one may be very entertaining to another. When it comes to negative effects on the environment, there are regulations that govern corporate activities for the sake of safeguarding the environment. Marketing firms thus comply with their legal-political environment, and when they fail to, they face the legal repercussions. The other bone of contention is consumer privacy. Tech Target defines consumer privacy as the handling and protection of sensitive personal information that individuals provide in the course of every day activities. Today, companies are keen to issue privacy policies for their customers, to counter the infringement of their privacy. Should a consumer feel and prove that their privacy has been infringed upon, they have legal rights that they can exercise. Moreover, the criticism on the psychological effect of the persuasive and repetitive nature of advertisements does not hold water. Consumers have the power to decide whether or not to watch an advertisement, and whether or not to make a purchase. Advertisements do not use any coercion upon their target audiences.
In conclusion, despite the criticism advertisement is a vital concept that is beneficial to companies, consumers and the national economy. It creates awareness; it is a medium of communication, it generates revenue and promotes better lifestyle through social marketing. It impacts on individuals and the society at large. The World Federation of Advertisers (par.3) acknowledges there is a link between advertising, competition and consumer value. Marketing companies conduct due diligence on their social, political, cultural and legal environment, with respect to the possible effects of an advertisement before airing it to the public.The weight of the good in the advertisement, tips off the few disadvantages of advertisement. These benefits validate O’Reilly’s (595-1) statement “you just might have a moral obligation to watch more commercials”.
Kaldor, Nicholas. The Economic Aspects of Advertising. Review of Economic Studies. Vol. 18.1950
Kenner, Allen. The Piracy of Privacy: Why Marketers Must Bare our Souls. 2009.
“Advertisement”. Merriam- Webster Dictionary. 2015
O’Reilly Terry. Marketing Ate Our Culture- But It Doesn’t Have To. 2010.
Pujari, Saritha. 5 Important Disadvantages of Advertising. Your Article Library. 2015
World Federation of Advertisers. The Value of Advertising. 2008.