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Who believes in indefinite growth on a physical finite planet is either mad or an an economist. We dont want to focus politics on the notion that involves the of principles around which a large majority of our fellow citizens. We are not as endlessly manipulable and as predictable as you would think this is not so much about the worth of advertising as such its about the deal between advertising society.
And specifically whether its the right time to remake that deal this debate has been going on for several hundred years. And theres been thoughtful people. Expressing views on it on both sides.
It was franz kafka. He of joseph k. And the john cockroach.
He said. I dont read investments. Id spend all my time wanting things and actually thats not thats not a bad way of looking at it because then well forces you to read advertising.
No one forces you to look at advertising. But if you want things its quite a good place to start advertising in this market is predominantly not a kind of blind or insensitive thing. It is necessarily for commercial and societal reasons.
Pretty sensitive to the people around it and the society around it looking at an ad now. If you see a television commercial. Its absolutely certain that that will have been tested and researched in some way before it was even made the script will have been sent to a regulator to be checked for truthfulness for taste and decency before the film is produced when the film is produced it will be tracked to see how its affecting.
The audience and the stakeholders that that organization that company that charity that government cares about because the fact is that advertising. Only works only exists at all because companies charities organizations governments believe that its useful for people to have their message and it only continues to thrive because enough of those people believe that the message in the dialogue that it engenders is worth having this is about now dialogue and all companies and organizations are intensely sensitive to that because their reputation is by and large the most valuable thing on their balance sheet. And they dont want to damage that by the way that they advertise and the industry is very aware of that its why we do maintain a very close dialogue with government and we maintain a close dialogue with what is being said about advertising in society.
And its its vitally important for all sorts of reasons that advertising stays within the parameters. And and sort of broad mores of public taste. The second thing is about the media advertising in this country display advertising amounts to something that five billion pounds and almost all of that ends up going not to the people who produce advertising.
But to the people who who run media and the wealth and richness and diversity of the media sector in the uk which you know leveson notwithstanding is pretty much the envy of the world is almost exclusively to do with the money thats funded through or subsidized through advertising. So if we didnt have advertising. Wed only have the bbc in sky as tv channels.
If we didnt have advertising. The guardian all the times well it to be honestly probably wouldnt exist because they cost five or six pounds to buy and not enough people would buy them now thats a part of the deal that content. And that news is part of what we get through advertising and my third point is this thing about whats the what are we talking about when we talk about advertising to vilify advertising for promoting the wrong values for extrinsic values rather than intrinsic values or encouraging overconsumption.
I think is ultimately an example of a category mistake. Its like saying we dont like the carbon emissions that cars produce okay where the carbon emissions come from exhaust pipes what well do is well ban exhaust pipes that will take the problem away well of course it wont because that might be the output. But theres a whole engine and machine behind it and advertising like it or not is a part of the regulated capital markets economy in which we live and you can think you can like that or you can not like it.
But you cant really separate advertising out from it it may well be that our economic system is as churchill said about democracy. The worst of all possible systems except for all the other ones that we know about so in some i believe that advertising does remake its deal it does it on a constant basis. It does it in order to survive.
And i do believe that it is part of a system that has actually done a considerable amount of good and i do believe we should value it for its incidental benefits things like the media. We have should we think of advertising as evil as we kind of hint in our report. No actually despite the provocative name as as after offer of oxford university.
Said we shouldnt but what i would propose is that advertising is out of control in our society. Today and the resultant impacts on social and cultural values are doing our society and our economy. A great disservice.
The advertising has an access all areas passed in our lives. A part of which the industry is taking full advantage and the big game in town is to push advertising into ever more spaces from naming football stadia to product placement in television to schools building. Exteriors and beyond.
There are media companies. Today who will carve your brands into trees and claim their environmentally friendly for doing so as linda kaplan fela ceo of the kaplan thaler group in the us says ubiquity is the new exclusivity. Just sit with those words for a moment ubiquity is the new exclusivity.
But somethings changing now were starting to realize that we cant count economic contributions with one eye closed. Were starting to understand that measuring the success of a nation by gdp is like measuring the success of a company by turnover alone. Were on the brink of developing true cost benefit or profit and loss analyses of nations and of major industries.
And when that happens. The advertising industry needs to be very careful why is this well youll have to read our report for a full answer. But the hypothesis repose is rooted in the study cultural values.
Now an established field after 25 years of consistent findings this field of social psychology poses a model of human behavior. Which says that we are by nature at least as cooperative as we are competitive at least. As selfless as narrowly self interested and at least this driven by the desire for fulfillment and purpose.
As by the desire for status and success relative to our peers in shorthand. It poses that we are by nature at least as intrinsically on our own terms as extrinsic lis relative to others motivated in our lives note. The phrase by nature because when you introduce advertising into the mix that especially in its current ubiquity.
The scales tip. Unsurprisingly exposure to advertising is related to a prevalence of extrinsic motivation. A wide range of studies which we review in more detail in the report provide statistical evidence that high levels of advertising leads of people working longer hours saving less and borrowing and buying more now the impact of that is terrifying purely on economic grounds with personal debt in the uk already over one and a half trillion pounds.
Which is nearly double the current national debt and its predicted to rise by 50 percent by 2015. If advertising is adding to that debt burden. And its doing a great disservice to our economy.
But the wider impacts are actually even more concerning when its extrinsic motivations dominate our likelihood to care about the problems of others diminishes significantly whether those others are people animals or the world as a whole as a result were extrinsic motivations are prevalent social equity is less and negative and viral impacts environmental impacts is greater the question we have to ask now is this for all the benefits mark talked about some of these that advertising brings. What are the costs because those are part of the deal and what are the costs in the undermining of informal support networks of ecosystem services and of personal mental and physical well being is advertising in its present form and as its present level of ubiquity contributing to economic growth or to what form and world bank. Economist herman daly.
Calls an economic growth where the marginal costs of an increase in gdp exceed. The marginal benefits. The evidence strongly suggests the latter the single most important thing we can do is to stop advertising screep into evermore parts of our lives as ive been careful to say its not necessary advertising as such thats the problem.
But the current state of ship ubiquity certainly is as we conclude in our report advertisings neither evil nor useless. But it is out of control. We must create space for our intrinsic motivations to be expressed and validated.
We need to nurture and celebrate whats great about culture not stret not strive to strengthen the already dominant role of the consumer and for that to happen advertising has to give us at least a little bit of room to breathe once we found a way to halt the spread. We then need to go deep into the cost benefit analysis and starts to remove advertising from the places. It should not be by striving to remove advertising from childhood.
We know children cannot form the implicit social contracts that we adults do when we open a magazine and no advertising. A subsidized its cover price we know from recent work by unicef that materialism is a major factor. Causing uk childhood well being to be the lowest in any oecd nation a ban on advertising to children.
I admit could never be complete. But it would give us the chance to start our lives as something other than consumers. And it would set a very important tone as a new society emerges.
The advertising industry would do well to withdraw itself from the arena of childhood and to start understanding where else its borders should retract. It needs to embrace research into the social and economic costs. It incurs not just trying to justify the benefits.
If it does not it will soon come to be seen as evil whether it deserves it or not doing some of the the research around kind of marketing to children. Theres been a longer debate going on in some other countries both continental europe and the states as well you know i came across some pretty crass and crap examples of marketing. That was out there and no doubt there are people who want that its a kind of a free market.
But there are issues that raise questions about responsibility. This was another one aimed at some teenage girls that you know we came across. Which is playboy pillowcases and these kinds of things i think probably do raise questions of what is acceptable or what is not whose values should decide in relation to something like that i think the good news.
Is that actually the advertising industry has started to engage with visa season. With these debates and the change from three to five years ago. Is absolutely palpable.
Theres been a lot of work done on the sexualization of children and and very welcomed were quite careful work. I think its a difficult area because the sexualization of childhood. Which on many of the statistics is is undoubtable over kind of over time is really the spillover of a sexualized adulthood.
You know actually kids see far more explicit unacceptable. Whether its an advertising or or more widely out there thats aimed at adults. That spills over to children so if we you know live unsustainable.
Lifestyles rakha climate change and celebrate sex and gender divisions. Then its no surprise that the kids pick up the same messages and theres risks in loading onto children you know what are essentially things that we ought to be taking responsibility for one of the things that shocked me looking at what was there in terms of the 100 billion pounds worth of the of the market for childrens products and services. Huge market growth market as well was the the gender divisions in many ways.
I think advertising does reflect the world around us and responsibility is not carved parents should take responsibility. But so should advertisers and so should government finding the right space in this but the gender side of it was just staggering. Because it was as if the womens movement had never existed you see that on the adverts with the role portrayals.
You see it more widely in films and the like its a fantastic organization in the states called seeing jane. Which is run by fathers in favor of better gender models in the world of entertainment and marketing as well and they did research that showed that actually in family movies women are twice as likely to hold a professional job you may have a professional job twice as likely to hold a professional job or to be running their own business in real life as they are on screen and these are the kinds of images that are pushed kind of out and around the other area of concern was an encouragement of materialism. If you put your value in things.
Rather. Than yourself. That is not good.
Ultimately for your self esteem or for your well being in my view. You there are limits to the extent. Which you can ban and banning advertising is a bit silly.
If youre not going to ban marketing. Because marketing is the product design and putting it out there in the first place. I think public service content.
You know the bbc. The wreaths ian agenda was developed when we said that the media ought not to be purely commercialized that there is a public benefit that should be recognized in public service broadcasting. And i think we need a new wreath ian agenda for the internet age and elsewhere.
I think that we ought to be seeing a benefit in developing particularly childrens programming. That is a value that is free from some of the commercialized cowboy monetization that goes on kind of online to support that kind of more widely. But i think the last thing that i would say is that advertising and marketing has a huge power as well to do good i.
In my previous role the national consumer council helped us start a program of work for the nhs in england. Using. What was called social marketing and the idea of social marketing is about bringing the the powerful toolkit of marketing to bear to support public health.
Along the idea is one of the practitioners puts it if marketing got us into this mess. Then maybe marketing can get us about in australia. They used a social marketing approach from the 1970s.
They did the segmentation they did the insight work and they identified that the best groups to go after was young people to persuade them not to smoke in the first place. And they went after them in a very aggressive using advertising marketing and all australia. Does not have a universal smoking.
Cessation service. Which we do australia does not have a universal smoking ban as we do but if you compare the smoking rates. Which were similar in the 1970s.
What youll find is that for the uk or england on current trends to get down to no smoking. And no adult smoking or 5 adult smoking will take us through to something like 2060 2065 australia. Because of the marketing work theyve done on that issue since the 1970s is likely to be there by 2020 or 2025.
So there is a space for marketing and advertising. But it can only be and should be a responsible one i think that the extent to which were in a new situation has as usual been greatly overstated. 1957.
Is when vance picard picard. Published. Hidden persuaders and 30 40 years ago.
The sort of anti advertising culture and fears about advertising. More probably greater than they are today the two things which i think knew one of them is that i think you know the growth of digital media has had a number of effects. Most of them rather good in terms of empowering consumers both to switch away from advertising.
They dont like and also to say rude things about products and services. They dont like it to each other so thats sort of a good thing. I dont think that changes the fundamentals.
What has happened is in the last three years four extremely good reasons public trust in institutions. Including companies and brands has gone down now if we look at criticisms of advertising. I think there are four different angles.
Which should probably be distinguished more often from each other theres a relatively minor one which is to do with advertising being intrusive or annoying. Most consumers would say that you know the benefits of having advertising paying for a lot of our media. Outweigh that intrusiveness particularly because toomes can pretty easily switch away from quite a lot of advertising.
Although not all a second which i think some of the anti advertising. People are not that explicit about but the linkage with the impact of economic activity on the environment primarily we have to be quite clear that yes advertising does help to drive economic growth primarily not in the way. Many people think because including some of the fans of advertising by persuading people to consume more but as an inherent part of a market economy.
You basically have a choice between two generic systems. One is a planned economy and the other is a market economy and planned economies have shown themselves extraordinarily bad at innovating so if were saying we dont like growth then lets say we dont like growth. I think theres a third closely related thing.
Which is not so much an economic argument per se. Because economics tends to assume that demand is kind of exogenous. Its its more the idea that the bad kind of consumerism is about materialism and selfishness and so on and that it leads to what people like john regard.
As quotes. Unnecessary needs and wants. I personally would be a little bit skeptical about the idea that greed and selfishness and so on you know was sort of created by advertising.
I would be a little bit more concerned about the fact that modern capitalism is increasing the gaps between the haves and the have nots. And its quite likely that advertising is increasing the unhappiness of the have nots. We again have quite a few knowledge gaps.
But we actually know much more than is reflected in what i think has been quite a low quality debate. Because of the obsession with with advertising. When walkers does quite significantly reduce the fat content of its crisps.
All it gets from the ngos is a very large rhubarb saying crisps even with low fat are still bad for you and it seems to me thats not a constructive response. Okay that we should be looking to reduce the fat content of products and encouraging people to consume those reduced fat products. The really big issue for the long term is to understand and influence the way that food preferences develop in the first five years mexican babies.
Dont like chili. Con carne makes the contender rolls will sort of wither on the vine. If they cant have their chili con carne so something has happened and it isnt about genes between zero and ten and the same happens in different types of household in the uk and as far as i can see essentially none of the massive debate has actually focused on that so i think where does that leave us.
Its lets not sort of i know im very glad that that john made it clear at the beginning of his talk. He is not saying advertising is evil. Because you then really have to come up with whats your kind of fact or then we get on to it what to me is a much more grown up discussion.
Which is what kind of capitalism is it swedish capitalism is it american capitalism and so on that seems to me to be a very good debate and then we have the specific issues case by case in which i have to say the one ive most been involved with which is the obesity one. I think the quality of that debate has been abysmal for the last 15 years. And i think that we would be ten years further along if thered been far less obsession with advertising in that and much more of a consumer centric analysis of you know what are the things.
Which drive obesity. And what are the various levers. We can pull to influence those you .
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