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Advertising and Its Damaging Effects on Society Essay

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Updated: Aug 24th, 2020

Even though people are rarely aware of that, advertising has already deeply rooted in their day-to-day lives. Ads are placed in magazines and newspapers, on the streets and roads, in grocery stores and schoolyards. To tell the truth, ads are almost everywhere. The question is, do we want to see so many advertisements around us? Probably a lot of people would agree that the answer to this question is negative. As today’s reality shows, the advertising industry does not work for the community’s sake or even consider our needs and desires; instead, it crosses a lot of boundaries that should not be crossed and even show its disrespect to people.

One of the strongest arguments against advertisements is the fact that people are forced to see those. In his article called A Death Spiral of Disrespect, Gary Ruskin states that advertising has already become coercive, and that is hard to argue with. If you want to watch a TV program or a movie, you have to put up with commercial breaks. Waiting in line to see a doctor, you see advertisements near his cabinet. When you are going to a store to buy groceries, you see plenty of ads both on the way to and inside it. And the list of examples can be greatly expanded. People see dozens of advertisements on a daily basis, even though no one has even asked them if they want to.

In addition to the fact that people have no choice whether to see advertisements or not, those are not always positive. In fact, ads can be even disrespectful or humiliating. As a prime example, Charlie Minato, in his article in Business Insider, provides a list of ten recent advertisements that are considered to be racists. It is hard to argue with him when you see a billboard, which says that “white is coming” and shows a picture of a taller white woman menacingly holding a black woman under her chin (Minato par. 16). Even though that is the twenty-first century, and people claim that they are colorblind when it comes to the skin color, the advertising industry continues releasing ads filled with racism and disrespect. I see no reasons why people should put up with that.

Making disrespectful ads is not the only boundary that the advertising industry crosses. Even though advertising companies deny that, they use children and young adults to increase sales of the advertised products. As Joseph McLaughlin states, children are much more impressionable than grown-ups are, which is why they are more likely to ground for advertisers (par. 2). Moreover, sometimes they do not even see any difference between a TV program and a commercial; also, a few children are actually aware of the persuasive intent of advertisements (McLaughlin par. 4-9). All of that makes the young audience an easy target for advertisers, who obviously take advantage of that. In addition to the fact that children see lots of ads on TV and the Internet, in supermarkets or just on the streets, even schools are not always free from advertisements. Because of such amount of ads, children make their parents spend more money, which is exactly what advertising companies are trying to achieve. Hence, people are manipulated with the help of advertising, sometimes through their own children.

In addition to everything mentioned above, advertising has damaging effects on public health. Gary Ruskin states that Americans are suffering from many marketing-related diseases, starting with obesity and ending with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, the most vulnerable audience is children because their attitudes and desires are more likely to be influenced by ads. As an example, many children eat lots of junk food and drink Coca-Cola because they regularly see those on TV. Consequently, they get used to such kind of food, undermining their health and breaking down the metabolism, which, in its turn, usually results in overweight and countless diseases related to it.

Finally, junk food and the risk of obesity are not the only negative sides of advertising when it comes to public health. A lot of harm is also done because of alcohol and tobacco advertisements, which are the most common in the United States, according to the American Public Health Association (par. 8). In their commercials, advertising companies usually link alcohol and tobacco products with appealing leisure activities, success, attractiveness, sexuality, and many other attractive things, which is why those products are not only advertised but also promoted. Seeing that, people become more and more attracted to bad habits.

To conclude, advertising indeed has a lot of negative sides and effects, which people can not escape because ads are almost everywhere. Advertisements have an adverse impact on public health (especially that of children), take advantage of the young audience, which is more vulnerable to external influence, and are not even always respectful. Considering all of this, people should try to regulate the amount of ad they read during their regular day on their own.

Works Cited

American Public Health Association. “Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol and Tobacco Products to Youth.” APHA. Online.

McLaughlin, Joseph. “Researcher Shows Negative Effects of Advertising on Children.” Fordham University. Online.

Minato, Charlie. “10 Recent Racist Ads That Companies Wish You Would Forget.” Business Insider. Online.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Advertising and Its Damaging Effects on Society." August 24, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/advertising-and-its-damaging-effects-on-society/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Advertising and Its Damaging Effects on Society'. 24 August.

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