Advertising -

Media Literacy
Make us aware of products
Differentiate one product from another
Create a need where none existed
(Ring around the collar)
We prefer to identify with ads that
show us as we aspire to be rather than
as we are (Goffman, 1976).
Ads are very specifically placed in TV shows,
newspapers, and magazines to be seen by a
target audience. Magazines and TV shows
know who watches and reads and they
market themselves to advertisers. If it’s in a
publication you read, it is aimed at you (even
though you may not identify with the
Ads manipulate our cultural understanding of
the meaning of symbols, ideas, words,
relationships, and images. The name for the
study of these understandings is “semiotics”.
Advertisers try to invent a link between a
product and a desirable symbol, idea, or
desire for the products’ results
to create an image
insecurity that we needed it all along and
just didn’t know it (dandruff shampoos!)
fulfills psychological need
brand loyalty
Overt means “out in the open” or “obvious”
Covert means “in secret” or “not obvious”
Advertising has overt goals and covert goals
“Buy this product.”
“Buy this product; you’ll be happier.”
“Buy this product; it will help you meet your
“Buy this product; you will be more
“Buy this product, you will be more
How do you think people in general are
affected when they accept the overt messages
of advertisements?
Covert messages are ones that are under the
surface. No one could come out and say
them straight out because these messages
appeal to parts of our minds that we don’t
really talk about: our insecurities and fears.
“You can rely on this product, but other
people and other things can’t be trusted.”
“The people who have this product have
access to something that you are not fully
aware of. Buying it will make you part of this
select group.”
(Members Only)
“This product allows you to break the rules.”
This product makes you better than people
“who don’t have it.” (Members Only)
“This product has powers that you do not
have. Owning it will give you those powers.”
“This product will identify you with a social
group or cause”
“You won’t be able to control yourself with
this product.” validates the idea that loss of
control is acceptable
“People like you use this product.” OR
“People like you don’t use this product.” (in
the case of less affluent people)
“This product will give you competence and
confidence. Without it, everyone knows
you’re lost.”
How do you think people in general are
affected when they accept the covert
messages of advertisements?
Linking products to causes
Linking products to cultural needs
Creating brand loyalty/lifestyle marketing
Using sex to sell
“The revolution is about basketball, and
basketball is the truth.” Shows powerful
young black men playing basketball in Rucker
Park. Links civil rights to basketball and to
Nike shoes. An extension of Nike’s ad
campaign that used The Beatles’ song
(Nike Beatles Revolution Ad)
“Keep America Moving.” General Motors tries
to make it a patriotic duty to buy a car.
“We’ve come a long way, baby.” Virginia
Slims campaign that linked smoking with
women’s liberation movement.
(Virginia Slims)
What do you think happens to causes when
people accept a link between a product and a
What’s one ad you can think of that links a
product and a cause?
Name the product and the cause.
Is the link real?
“cultural rape” using important religious
(crosses, images of Jesus or Moses) or
secular ( the Constitution, the flag,
Abraham Lincoln) images to sell a product
Mastercard ads that show credit spending
being used to build personal relationships
(father-child bonding in particular)
Bonding over products: guys become friends
because of beer, couples fall in love over
diamonds, women build friendships over
Bribing the kids: McDonald’s ads that
validate a mother for feeding her kids fast
Drug ads showing elderly people with
arthritis struggling to play with their
grandkids, then enjoying being grandparents
once they take the medication
How do you think people are affected when
they accept a link between a product and a
cultural need?
What’s one ad that links a product and a
cultural need?
Name the product and the need.
Is the link real?
Tries to promote a link between a certain
product or group of products and a
lifestyle; kids and yuppies are the biggest
Goal is to create a life-long consumer.
Brand Loyalty or Lifestyle Marketing
Couture houses create an image through
money-losing haute-couture to get people to
buy their lower-priced off-the-rack items
and accessories.
Product placement in films
How do you think people are affected when
they develop brand loyalty or accept lifestyle
marketing ideas?
What’s a product that tries to develop brand
loyalty in your age group?
How do they do this?
Does it work? For whom?
◦ The basic goal is to link the product
to a desirable thing and sex is the
most desirable thing to many people
◦ Some products naturally fit, some it’s
a stretch
◦ Only so many products can be
sexualized, so to use this strategy
you have to either expand the
market to different (younger)
consumers or sexualize non-sexual
products by taking the product out
of the ad
 clothing, beauty products, gum, beer, cars
How are people affected by sexual advertising
Who is most affected?
Name one product that uses sex to sell.
Is the relationship between sexuality and
product realistic?
Who is able to do it?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
We are vulnerable at whatever
stage our
needs are not met.
Self-Actualization Needs
(feeling fulfilled)
Ego Needs
(self-esteem and respect of others)
Social Needs
Security Needs
Physiological Needs
(food, water, shelter)
Where are teens vulnerable?
Where are pre-teens vulnerable?
Where are parents vulnerable?
Where are more successful people
Where are less successful people
Where are men vulnerable?
Where are women vulnerable?
Where are you vulnerable?
What do you think?

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