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Advertising and its appeal on todays society

Access to the whole data base is readily available to interested scholars. This paper reports a synthesis of the hypothesized effects based on the intellectual history of North America. To enable testing of some of these hypotheses, a method was developed to content analyze advertisements for values manifest.

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The results of such an analysis of 2,000 ads from 1900-1980 in U. These data are compared to similar data for contemporary U. They are invaluable in characterizing advertising and consumers, whether collectively as a common culture or as differentiated segments. Values are the very soul of advertising. The strategic decision of what product attributes or consumer benefits to focus on is a value decision, answering the question "what is, or should be, of importance to the consumer?

The value dimensions of advertising are also at the heart of the critique advertising and its appeal on todays society advertising, whether judging the effectiveness of individual ads or concerned with the social and cultural ramifications of the larger system of commercial activity.

The knowledge that advertising unavoidably communicates and ratifies certain values is of much concern to many social scientists.

They see advertising as a highly important socialization institution in societies because it is both pervasive and persuasive. The presence of commercial messages in multiple media, not only the obvious major media, but also on street signs, clothing, vehicles, etc. Thus, the relentless persuasion on behalf of consumption is not only impossible to avoid, but also hard to detect as its commonplaceness leads to its being taken for granted. Much professional talent and money is spent to maximize potential effectiveness of ads through both consumer behavior research and advertising production values, making the commercial component of media content the most likely element to be impactful and persuasive.

The pervasive and persuasive nature of advertising makes most social scientists quite concerned, especially when they consider the diminishing socialization roles played by other social institutions in affluent societies, institutions like organized religion, education, law and the courts, extended families, traditional cultures and philosophies, etc. While advertising is in the ascendancy, these others seem to fade in importance as influences on the new generations of youth and hence the emergent Culture in many societies.

Advertising may be one of the most potent factors eroding traditional cultural character and leading to a transnational consumer culture. Because of this possibility, it is worth studying, in a far more systematic manner than has been done to date, the role of values in advertising.

Worthy of inquiry are the questions like what is the nature of values? Each of these questions will be explored in this paper for the North American context beginning with the issue of what hypotheses are worth researching.

While the literature and data reviewed are North American, the issues and research methodology are universal. The evolution of advertising into a national, big budget, professionally executed activity around the beginning of this century led many commentators to express concern with advertising's influence on traditional cultural values.

23 Types of Advertising Appeals Most Commonly Used by Brands

This was true not only in North America and England, but perhaps most dramatically in Germany where the highly evolved scholarly community of the 1920s write much on commercial culture Fullerton and Nevett 1985. This early literature, particularly in the U. This continued to be the case through the depression years of the 1930s, even with the contributions of critiques by experienced admen Rorty 1934. This may begin to change, for a new major literature review is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Pollay 1986.

This review summarizes the conventional wisdom of North American intellectual thought about the consequences of advertising. The long list of possible effects is shown in Exhibit 1, but note that few of these allegations are supported by data.

Most are, however, supported with convincing rhetoric by famous and influential scholars and major international organizations like UNESCO MacBride 1980. The full list seems an impressive indictment of advertising.

Failure to explore these research directions would expose the consumer behavior intellectuals as servants to, rather than objective scholars independent of, corporate practices.

The authors contributing to this critique range quite broadly in their knowledge of advertising practices and its constraints. They also vary on the extent to which they attribute power to advertising.

At the extremes some write as if advertising were an all powerful- mercenary martipulator, a corrupting influence in an otherwise innocent culture, while others write as if advertising were the innocuous innocent, merely reflecting aspects of society. Neither extreme position is easily defended, and yet both have some validity. While advertising does indeed work within a cultural context, the "mirror" of advertising is a very distorted one, for advertising operates very selectively in its portrayals of some values, some lifestyles, some motivations, etc.

Thus, the feedback to the culture through commercial communication is a highly selective reinforcer of certain values. This reinforcement may well alter the audience's value hierarchy by effecting the salience of various values. Both extreme positions, with their metaphorical images advertising and its appeal on todays society puppet mastery or passive mirroring, capture the interdependence between culture and communication and suggest the selective reinforcement process. The selectivity of advertising's employment and validation of certain values derives from the facts that not all values are as readily dramatized in ads, are as readily responded to by consumers, are as readily attached to available products, or are values cherished by the advertisers themselves.

Expert Answers

Values are a very basic concept. We often talk about the hierarchy of attitudes, opinions and beliefs, noting each successive concept as the more fundamental and durable dimension of character, the less ephemeral and changeable. Values are particular kinds of beliefs that incorporate criteria or standards of judgment. For example, Rokeach 1973, p.

A value system is an organization of such beliefs. Within the broad classification of instrumental means and terminal ends values, other distinctions are of interest. Terminal values can be segmented into those which are personal salvation or social peace. Similarly the instrument values can be segmented into those that are personal competence logical and those that are interpersonal moral values forgiving, obedient or helpful. This distinction is manifest in the feeling evoked when these values are violated.

Note that values are a critical basis for decisions, judgments and even simple perception, the most elemental judgment. They are also, of course, evident as the foundation for religions, cultural belief systems, political ideologies and judicial processes.

Values are therefore both prosaic and profound, commonplace in daily life and also at times apparently worth even the sacrifice of life itself. Family and social reward and punishment systems are built upon a value hierarchy.

  1. Political advertising can support and assist the working of the democratic process, but it also can obstruct it. Advertising reached a pinnacle of display of consumers, attention to benefits or use of emotive rhetorical styles in the 1950s or so.
  2. Advertising reached a pinnacle of display of consumers, attention to benefits or use of emotive rhetorical styles in the 1950s or so.
  3. To enable testing of some of these hypotheses, a method was developed to content analyze advertisements for values manifest.

Our judgments of others, and hence our presentation of self to society, is also structured around value sets. Political decisions, like personal consumer choices, reflect value preferences.

The most difficult of choices involves the competition and trade off between competing value premises. In isolation all values are, by definition, a "good," a desirable and laudable behavior or consequence. Indeed, we value so many things that most serious political decisions rest on the trade off between the relative importance of several values, such as family sanctity, justice, security, autonomy, democratic participation, peace, equity of opportunity, individual or economic progress.

What distinguishes major political camps is the relative importance of these and other goals. So too with the individual. Cultures typically also have rules governing resolution of value conflicts, shared understandings as to which values dominate under what conditions.

For example, cultures have norms about how a son should decide between staying with aging parents family loyalty vs. The cultural rules governing such value conflicts are built up over generations and embodied in cultural traditions.

Normally the nature of the value hierarchy implicit in such rules imply is not obvious. Values, like other environmental variables, are typically taken for granted as "human nature" or "the way we are" until they are threatened or violated.

At this stage they are so important that cultures and individuals are willing to risk all to maintain certain values. Values are traditionally very slow to change, but with the emergence in recent history of professional persuasion, potential value change is accelerated as persistent value reinforcing communication competes with the traditional sources of value education, families, schools, religious orders, the courts, etc.

Because advertising seems to be in ascendency while the role of competing social institutions seems to be in descendency, much concern has been expressed, as seen above, about the value character of advertising and the manner in which it might work to create a new generation dramatically different from its forefather's culture.

More commonly it is a gradual process whereby the relative importance of various values is modified slowly. The source, or stimulus, for value change can be either personal knowledge, social reinforcement, or other persuasive external agents. Personal advertising and its appeal on todays society can lead to value change by changing perceived linkages. For example, learning that some industries are polluting, and that pollution is potentially harmful, may change the valuation of that industrial activity.

Personal knowledge can also change values when an individual passes through advertising and its appeal on todays society critical incident, such as a disillusionment, or has a transcendent religious revelation.

Social reinforcement of values occurs virtually all the time as friends and family express approval and disapproval of those around them, thereby exposing their norms and values. Peer groups and even reference groups which the individual may only admire from afar can function as value models. Even the relative importance of family vs.

Lastly, change can occur as a result of the action of an external agent, like the teacher, the preacher, the political speaker or the advertiser. Here too, change can be dramatic or gradual, but gradual change, as might more commonly be the result of seductive commercial culture, is none the less important. There are at the least seven processes of change an individual might experience.

At one extreme is 1 the total ideological conversion, be it political or religious, with wholesale acquisition and abandonment of entire sets of values. Political values can change 2 by revolutionary means, as when there advertising and its appeal on todays society a collapse of political consensus, or 3 by evolutionary means, as social order goes through stages of environmental adaptation.

Values are often invisible as they are exactly those things which cultures take for granted, but they become visible and salient when change occurs. Cultural actors, like parents, may spend considerable effort to communicate traditional values when they are seen as directly challenged.

Lastly, some value changes produce 'cascade effects' as the change in the subset of value importances upsets the multiple equilibria of social rules and roles concerning value dominance.

The changes in some core values may undermine the relative importance of other values and the whole hierarchy becomes disturbed, just as a grocer's display of oranges might collapse if items are taken from the bottom row. For a more detailed discussion see the branch of philosophy known as axiology Rescher 1969. It has been shown that the importance of certain values, and hence the overall structure of a value hierarchy, can be changed by experimental manipulations Rokeach 1973, 1979a, Rokeach and Grube 1979.

Thus it is of importance to question what values are reinforced by advertising, not just occasionally, but on an ongoing basis. The persistent reinforcement of certain value premises by their use, validation and display can induce long term changes in value systems. Note that this is true even though individual ads may be less than totally effective. The persistent themes that transcend individual ads are the keys to understanding the macro effect of a commercial system.

The effect of the aggregate totality of commercial persuasion may be consequential even when individual ads have limited power to convert behaviors, just as a flood has far more power than a raindrop. To repeat, values normally change very gradually as tradition slowly gives way to a cultural adaptation to new circumstances. The industrial revolution, with its component revolutions in communication technologies and the arts of persuasion, create a situation today where in many cultures a new commercial culture is in direct clash with a traditional, nonmaterialistic culture.

Identifying the ways in which advertising has played a role in encouraging this cultural revolution requires a discussion of how advertising employs and deploys values and how the value character of advertising might be measured. This measurement methodology can then be applied to sample advertisements to identify the value profile of commercial persuasion.

The pattern of this profile can then be compared to data about actual change in society. It is the business of advertising to convert products into "goods," that is, objects with enhanced perceived values. This may result from a reminder of certain aspects of the product's performance and the benefits the consumer might derive, or the suggestion of new attributes or benefits or which the consumer was not previously aware.