Saturday, March 13, 2010

Post #3: Advertisements

According to Vertical Thought, the problem with the media today lies in their ultimate goal. Instead of providing good entertainment, the media aims to “influence what we value and how we spend our money,” says author of “Media, Marketing and Cool,” Keri Sanders. Besides persuading the public with sex and lies, advertisements can focus on the simplicity of their product alone. Essentially, they should put emphasis on just the product and its uses, excluding any animate influence.

To reform present advertisements, imagery must not depend on any other factor other than the product itself. The ad should solely display the product alone along with its specifics, which are detailed description of its features. This way, anyone who comes across a type of advertisement can judge the product for themselves. In “Sex, Lies and Advertising,” Gloria Steinem reveals a company that makes toy trains. Although they published boxes with both boys and girls, “they fear that, if trains are associated with girls, they will be devalued in the minds of boys.” By simplifying the imagery of its box, assumptions such as that can cease to exist. No girl or boy should show in the packaging; only the train itself; and the train will not be pink or blue, it will be the same colors as they are on real trains. This method can eliminate segregation and appeal to a more general consumer market.

Jean Kilbourne, on her essay “Beauty and Beat of Advertising,” reveals a concern regarding the representation of women on household products: that they are “pathologically obsessed by cleanliness and lemon-fresh scents, debates cleaning products and worries about their husband’s ring around the collar.” Again, the solution to this is to delete any animate influence. Instead of displaying a housewife or mentioning that the husband has a ring on his collar, simply talk about how the product has the ability to remove rings on collars. This excludes the word husband and emphasizes on the ring around the collar. It is not as if women do not wear collared apparel; they do. A great example would be tennis clothes; both men and women who play tennis casually usually wear clothing that bears collars.

To further address Kilbourne’s concern about beauty ads making it seem that “the image is artificial and can only be achieved artificially,” it is imperative to keep in mind that any animate influence on advertisements are only there to deceive the consumer and to hide or hinder the product’s features. An ad that shows women excessively photoshoped along with a product that may reduce wrinkles, should not compel buyers to purchase that product. Instead they should feel that, by adding this unrealistic image, it is hindering the products ability. If it is realized that the advertisements rely on the animate, then the product is weak and should not be purchased at all. Companies should build credibility through what their product can do and how successfully they can do it. Consumers need to realize that by doing otherwise, these companies are merely committing a theft from their pockets.

This 1974 ad fits some of the criteria for the simple with specs method. It does not rely only anything but the product itself. Hence, the product is confident, it is strong; and that is attractive. We also see the word perfume which is a great example of showing specs because it tells consumers what it is. (Found in Mom's Basement is the title of the blog this image came from and is not part of the ad.)

The simple with specifics method is different because its ultimate goal is to gain a universal interest while at the same time preserving an undamaged consumer. Universal interest is gain through solely displaying the product along with its specifications; targeted audiences are completely eliminated; slogans and persuasive text are replaced with specifications and product ability. For example, by applying this method to the Clorox commercial we saw in class, it is obvious that the simple with specifics method can reform it. By not showing women at all, nor mentioning mothers, grandmothers and any other type of women title, Clorox puts an emphasis on their credibility; which are: a trusted brand that has been around for a long time and one that is very effective on white clothes, “keeping whites pure white.” Consumers, no matter what sex, will notice the specifications of Clorox and will be attracted to it. More importantly, they would not end up thinking that laundry is for the female sex; they would not think men doing laundry is taboo nor can men use it as an excuse to not help women with laundry.

The 21st century, as I have observed, has actually dispelled a fraction of advertisement effects on consumers. Since money is handled in a more careful fashion and not on impulse, people like me tend to research the product online intensely to see if it is your money’s worth. By reading consumer reviews and product ratings, one is able to make a better judgment based on past consumer experiences instead of the feelings generated by an ad full of psychological strategies.

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