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The Power of Advertising Essay

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Updated: Jan 12th, 2021

Jesus is a Brand of Jeans

Jean Kilbourne analyzes how the advertising industry influences society. She explains that advertisements have become daring in the past years; they do not promise to deliver certain emotions, but claim to replace humans. They corrupt and trivialize human beings and thus perpetuate objectification of people. They also breed a culture of selfishness and resentment about human values. The power of advertising lies in is subtle nature as most of its messages get through the subconscious mind. No one is immune from its messages. This focus on the superiority of products over people also commercializes the world and kills local cultures. It not only exhausts people’s external resources, but depletes their internal resources (spirituality, emotions), as well.

Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals

Jib Fowles looks at the power of advertising by analyzing its inner strategies. The author explains that advertisements circumvent protective or rational parts of the brain, in order to get to underlying motives, insecurities, and longings. He identifies fifteen emotional appeals that advertisements attempt to fill.

They include the need for sex, affiliation, nurturing, guidance, aggression, achievement, domination, prominence, attention, autonomy, escape, safety, aesthetic sensations, curiosity, and physiological needs like eating and sleeping. He also adds that visual depictions are more effective than texts. Advertisements may contain more than one appeal and may tone down potentially repelling appeals using stylistic devices like humor. Advertising is a game of numbers, which only has to reach a small segment of the population to be effective.

In Praise of Advertising

As the name of the article suggests, John Hood, wanted to discuss the merits of advertising. Contrary to what consumer activists assert Hood believes that advertising demonstrates the triumph of the consumer. He then looks at various arguments against advertisements and counters them. First, some people believe that it minimizes competition by creating a barrier for entrance of new players. However, the author says that it serves an informative role and encourages consumers to try different brands. Other critics claim that advertising minimizes price transparency, but Hood believes it enhances it. Consumers access information about price mostly through billboards or other types of ads. Further, John explains that advertising does not create demand for unnecessary goods; it only illuminates innate desires.

Are Computers Transforming Humanity?

Mary Pratt believes that computers are transforming humanity, in terms of communication and intelligence. She claims that in communication, people no longer care about privacy. The way they form communities is also changing as social networks or other computer websites lead to the creation of heterogeneous groups. Technology is also changing people’s language through the development of colloquialisms and short forms. It is promoting narcissism as people use digital media to remain self indulgent. Even definitions of intelligence are changing; now memory capacity is not an essential trait because computers can capture data on man’s behalf. The author believes that technology does not substitute thinking; it only boosts it.

Twitter Tirades Test Limits of Freedom of Speech

Author Jill Lawless believes that the use of technology can test the limits of free speech. She cites several instances in which law enforcers arrested people due to comments they made on tweeter or other social networking sites. Some of them have lost their jobs or have paid heavy fines. In certain instances, the arrests lead to public outcry and solidarity with the person who committed the offense. Critics affirm that the law is yet to meet the demands of the technological era; a balance between responsibility and freedom is yet to be struck. Nonetheless, further use of technology will lead to laws that govern its use in the near future.

Eyes Without a Face: Facebook as the Mew Panopticon

Erin Bell explicates the privacy implications of facebook in this new technology boom. He starts by explaining that facebook has one of the largest memberships in the online world. This can be attributed to the heterogeneity of members, free membership and the need to interact with other human beings. Furthermore, people can connect using cameras, telephones, chat functions and other methods on facebook. However, most of these users do not understand that facebook has a lot of privacy implications. One exposes one’s information to one’s peers and members of other online communities. Employers can thus use it to fire or hire staff. Law enforcers may also use to arrest members while journalist may snoop of subjects. Marketers can also profile individuals and bombard them with ads.

Analysis of Michelle Wie and the Kia Soul Advert

The advertisement under consideration contains female golfer Michelle Wie. It starts at a golf course where two gentlemen wearing dull-colored clothes are chatting. A number of golfers parked their cars at the parking lot, although none of them stands out. Then shortly after, the gentlemen, in the golf course, appear shocked at something. They drop everything they are doing and concentrate on this thing that the audience cannot see. However, this suspense is short-lived because viewers then get to see the centre of attention – a red Kia. As it drives by, fast, and aggressive rap music plays in the background. A gorgeous oriental female- Michelle Wie- seductively walks out of the car and says hello to the ‘boys’. She then takes a swing at her golf ball and does a satisfactory job with it.

According to Jib Fowles, who wrote the article, “Advertising’s fifteen basic appeals”, explains that most advertisements intend on surpassing people’s rational mind in order to get to their innate needs and aspirations. The same may be said about this advertisement. The producers wanted to appeal to two key emotional needs: the need for attention as well as the need for autonomy. The Kia is red and immediately stands out in the parking lot. Its overall effect and look impresses everyone.

The makers of Kia probably know that human beings have a primitive need to exhibit themselves. This need to be the object of fascination or the centre of attention is what dominates the advert. While the need of attention is present in men, it is the female gender that society socializes into wanting attention. Consequently, one may affirm that the Kia Soul model is for females who want all eyes on them.

The second emotion targeted by the marketers of this advertisement is the need for autonomy. Most advertisements promise viewers that they will guide, protect or make them loved, but this advertisement promises users that Kia will make them autonomous. Michelle is not driving what the other golfers are driving; her car has personality. It appeals to independent people who prefer to forge their own identities. Even the manner in which Michelle addresses the gentlemen illustrates her degree of self confidence and appreciation of individual identity. Someone who drives such a car is one who wants to be different from everyone else.

This advertisement also uses a celebrity golfer to endorse the product. Author Jib Fowles states that this is a common approach, irrespective of the fact that it can backfire on the brand if something happens to the celebrity. Producers are fond of this approach because the public embraces celebrities especially in their role as introducers. More often than not, the celebrities will come from the field of sports or entertainment. This is the case for Michelle who is a golfer. Wie’s appearance in the ad is likely to reinforce the need to get attention as her identity makes her stand out.

One may also analyze the effectiveness of the advertisement through the comments made just below the YouTube video. Michelle’s look draws most readers, and some of them even get graphic about what they would like to do to her. However, others feel that the Kia model is inappropriate for millionaire golfers. Perhaps the producers of the car wanted to defy this stereotype by choosing a sport that mega millionaires love. Furthermore, because men may feel uncomfortable around a wealthy female who seems so proficient at her sport, then chances are that the other gender – females – will relate and embrace this advert.

The commercial is symptomatic of what goes on in marketing; producers intend on appealing to deep-seated drives in consumers. It is evident through the choice of model, product and covert messages.

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"The Power of Advertising." IvyPanda, 12 Jan. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/the-power-of-advertising/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Power of Advertising." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-power-of-advertising/.


IvyPanda. "The Power of Advertising." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-power-of-advertising/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "The Power of Advertising." January 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-power-of-advertising/.


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