Argumentative Essay: Advertising - Manipulative or Informative

EssayArgumentative Essay

We are living in the Information Age. Every type of information no matter how irrelevant or insignificant is already within our reach with just a few keystrokes. The same goes for searching for popular and unusual products online. There are also instances when we stumble upon creatively placed advertisements as we are browsing peacefully through our search results or social media feeds. The internet compiles all that information in order to provide users with more suggestions that we might be interested in.

The main goal of advertisements is to inform people in an ethical manner. Advertising also persuades and sometimes goes overboard by manipulating one’s emotions. As advertising has grown over time, there has been criticism of how it manipulates people. This essay argues that although the function of advertisement is to inform users by appealing to their sense of belonging, it has also manipulated them through unethical means of persuasion. 

One aspect of advertisement is that it is a communicative tool utilized to disseminate information to customers about a given product or service. Some may say that advertising is now obsolete if it’s only to inform (Woodcock, 2018) but advertisements still prove to be useful when you’re just in the phase of scouting what you want to purchase next.

Advertisements are meant to be eye-catching and memorable, may it be for a product or service. An effective advertisement may have triggered an emotional connection with the potential customers and possibly persuaded them to buy what was being advertised. Sometimes, the visuals are enough to do the job like for food advertisements and clothing essentials , but words are often needed to further persuade the person to open the wallet for health and wellness products.

Advertising disseminates information that is relevant to the masses. For instance, the spread of HIV/AIDS among the youth has been of concern to healthcare providers in the 21st century. Through advertisement, the public, especially adolescents, are able to engage in safe sex or abstinence. In this sense, advertising influences behavioral change among people in a positive sense. However, even with the informative aspect, present-day advertising tends to brainwash people to believe its content without making an informed choice (Pomering, Johnson, & Noble, 2013).

Not only that but advertising is also used to inform the public of what kinds of products or services are available, what are the inclusions, and at what price the customer may avail it. It also informs consumers what is new about an updated product that has long been on the market. Critical thinking needs to be developed for advertisers to keep up with the fast-changing trends. It is used to inform and persuade people that the product has been upgraded and should be bought immediately.

Advertising may seem inherently good as it is wired to only inform people about a certain product or service. However, most advertising techniques, if not all, have the effect of manipulating people exposed to them. Customers may be manipulated into purchasing products and services against their own will or without researching first to prove what is being claimed. For example, advertising can influence an individual’s preference for brands. A consumer may be persuaded to the point of abandoning a product that one has been loyal to for a long time (Xu, Oh, & Teo, 2009) just because of an advertisement that person has stumbled upon.

People’s emotions get manipulated by advertisements almost every day as advertisements are literally everywhere. Everyone is exposed to different forms of advertisement every time people use the internet, walk down the streets, enjoy a cup of coffee, or wait for traffic to ease. The advertisement is carefully constructed to attract those who see it and is riddled with images and text that seem harmless but are actually intended to manipulate a person’s mind.

Advertising contains subliminal messages that often control the thoughts of people. These messages are unethical since they are embedded in drawings or words, and seem to manipulate oblivious people. Some subliminal messages contain unethical means of persuasion that is meant to manipulate. Many advertising agencies believe that following ethics in the strictest sense would result in low sales and effectiveness (Pomering, Johnson, & Noble, 2013).

In as much as advertising is helpful in disseminating valuable information to people, it sometimes manipulates people through unethical means of persuasion. Advertising will be deemed outdated if used only for its original purpose: to inform. It is a very powerful tool that can easily manipulate and exploit people. Millennials have grown wary of advertisements as they have become aware of their manipulative tendencies and resorted to asking friends and colleagues about a certain product or service.

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Woodcock, R. (2018, August 20). Advertising is obsolete – here’s why it’s time to end it.  The Conversation.

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