Prior to the emergence of mass advertising, an individual may have discovered a product by chance or through personal recommendation. Today that individual is subject to a wide range of advertising. Although television is supreme in its ability to reach a mass audience, other media such as radio, newspapers, billboards, brochures and the internet are widely employed. The continuing presence of such advertisements attests to a belief by their sponsors in the efficacy of these methods.
The ultimate goal of all advertising is to make a sale. What is being sold doesn't have to be a product as witnessed by corporate advertising. In this form the corporation itself is what is being sold, yet that that in turn leads to sales of the corporations products. A successful advertisement has to alter the perceptions of the consumer favorably. Both emotive and informative mechanisms may be used to meet these goals.
Since specific examples are requested, I shall mention the Coca-Cola campaigns. No reasons are given as why their product is superior to competitors. The singing and dancing people are emotive, the consumer associates their product with happy times. Compare this approach with the advertisement for a cleaning product. Unable to glamorize the product, they will emphasis the products ability to clean, saving you labor. Car manufacturers will use both techniques, we have good looking people on good looking cars, but also information on fuel consumption and low price.
Unfortunately the power of advertising can also be misused. Although outright lies are rare, exaggeration and distortion are commonplace.
A more controversial usage is to create a need where none existed before. Once again I provide a specific example. I am encouraged to buy antibacterial cleaning fluid to wash my food chopping board. Since it kills all the germs, I am told, it is better. Yet my grandmother didn't need such a product, she simply washed the bacteria off with soap and water. What is required is removal of the bacteria and not their demise. Thus the product offers no true advantages. The proof of this comes from her extreme age.
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