Learning Goals:

  • Advertising and democracy
  • Advertising and equality
  • Tall claims

In many ways, advertising does not conform to the basic tenets of democracy. Advertising is often seen to promote affluent lifestyle and tends to ignore the harsh realities of life. Advertising creates a big divide between big business houses and small business entities.

Advertising and Democracy

Democracy has equality as its integral part. There are many ways in which advertising links to the issues of equality.

Cost: Advertising involves enormous costs. Advertising a brand usually involves crores of rupees. The money that is spent on advertising is for

  • Producing and showing advertisements
  • Repeating the advertisements many times so that it registers in the minds of the people. This is important because already there are a number of advertisements of a number of brands. So repeating one's advertisement increases the chances of consumers remembering the particular brand.

The high costs involved mean that only large companies can advertise. People owning small businesses cannot afford to do so. Hence people who sell home-made pickles, papads, jams, etc. are not as valued by consumers as the branded products. These homemade items have to be sold in local weekly markets only.

Loss of livelihood of small businessmen: Advertisements create a wrong notion in the people's minds regarding product quality. They make us believe that packaged and branded products are far superior in quality than the non-branded ones. But in reality, the quality of the product is not related much to the packaging that it comes in. This tendency of people of shifting to branded products and ignoring the non-branded ones results in the loss of livelihood of many small businessmen.

  • Promoting lack of respect for the poor: Since advertisements show the life of the rich and elite only, we do not come to know about the lives of the poor and underprivileged. This results in our tendency to consider their lives as worthless.
  • Since advertisements use various emotions like caring for the family for promoting their products, those who cannot afford the branded products feel that they are not able to offer the quality product and the care that the brand products appear to offer. For example, if the advertisement of a branded daal uses the tagline and concept of give the best to your family those who cannot afford this brand will feel incapable of giving the best to their family.
  • Overlooking important issues: Since advertising focuses on the lives of the rich and the well known, it makes us forget the issues of poverty, discrimination and dignity – the issues that are the essence of the functioning of equality in a democracy.
  • More than just selling the product it tells us how we should lead our lives, what is being smart, what our dreams and aspirations should be, etc.

Tall claims by advertisers:

Many advertisements by protein drink brands are good examples of certain tall claims made by these brands. For example, one of the brands claims that a child can become taller and sharper by using that drink. Another brand claims that it will promote better growth of brain and child can become as intelligent as Einstein. The truth is far from what the brands claim. Nobody can become taller and sharper by using a protein drink. A person becomes tall because tallness is in his/her gene. A child can grow better with help of proper nutrition and exercise. A child can become intelligent by rigorous practice and regular study.

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