We live in a fast paced society that is ruled by mass media. Everyday we are bombarded by images of perfect bodies, beautiful hair, flawless skin, and ageless faces that flash at us like a slide show. These ideas and images are imbedded in our minds throughout our lives. Advertisements select audiences openly and subliminally, and target them with their product. They allude to the fact that in order to be like the people in this advertisement you must use their product.
This is not a new approach, nor is it unique to this generation, but never before has it been as widely used as it is today. There is an old saying a picture is worth a thousand words and what better way to tell someone about a product than with all one thousand words fitting on one page or a couple minute commercial.
Take for example an ad for Virginia Slims cigarettes found in practically any magazine. This ad is claiming, in more ways than one, that Virginia Slims is the upscale smoke and is appropriately for women . There are numerous subliminal associations contingent to this statement as well. One being that the people depicted in these advertisements are all extremely good looking and well dressed. Hinting to the fact that people who smoke these cigarettes are of a high class. Secondly, one other thing I noticed is that men are rarely shown in the Virginia Slims advertisements mainly because their presence hinders the free sprit of the woman . When men are shown, they are found in the background behind the woman who is holding the Virginia Slims cigarette. Third, and perhaps most important is the brief text in the advertisement which reads You ve come along way baby or It s a woman thing .
This is an attempt to let the reader know that this is not your ordinary cigarette by implying that these cigarettes appeal to the finest walk of life. These three elements described above combined target an audience of classy professional women in their mid-twenties to thirties. One may ask why this group, why not try to appeal to working class citizens too. Well the answer is easy; find one woman that does not want to be just like any these ladies. Some of these advertisements have younger women shown simply for the up and coming generation. They will be the ones to buy this product for the next ten to twenty years from now, so those are the people they must reach today.
Another example is in any advertisements in the magazine Maxim. Just looking at these ads make you feel like you have just left a bachelor party. Ad campaigns that are directed toward the male species, believe it or not, are constructed very simple: sex, booze, money, and did I mention sex? These are the very basic infrastructures of the male psyche. It is hard to believe that after a million years of evolution, placing a man on the moon, and constructing mile high buildings that the basic ingredients to a successful advertisement of enticing men to buy can be reduced down to sex or how to get it. One ad in particular directs towards the latest book from Maxim's secret vault and supposedly it is so hot that it should be illegal! As I read on I am instructed that I will not believe it till I see it! And I must act now to receive a complimentary poster of the first 100 orders.
Advertising tells people how to act, look, and think without actually saying that you must be that way or you won t be able to live. The reasoning behind that is if you were just told what to do, then you would know that you are being manipulated and in turn it would be less effective. To make selling a particular product more effective, advertising turns the situation around by saying everyone has it or by creating a jingle that annoyingly sticks in your mind, for instance, do you ever catch yourself singing the Mentos commercial in your head? All in all, advertising and advertising agencies were created to manipulate consumers. Ask yourself this, would you really buy something you really didn t need if you had never seen or heard its advertisement? The answer is, probably not.