How critics and defenders of advertising view consumer culture (Pollay & Holbrook articles)
Regarded as a form of communication, it (advertising) has been criticized for playing
on emotions, simplifying real human situations into stereotypes, exploiting anxieties,
and employing techniques of intensive persuasion that amount to manipulation.
Many social critics have stated that advertising is essentially concerned with exalting
the materialistic virtues of consumption by exploiting achievement drives and
emulative anxieties, employing tactics of hidden manipulation, playing on emotions,
maximizing appeal and minimizing information, trivializing, eliminating objective
considerations, contriving illogical situations, and generally reducing men, women,
and children to the role of irrational consumer.
Pollay: Advertising as a “distorted mirror”—critiques of advertising
Product placement in films
John Berger on “publicity”
Priming: the activation of ideas through recent, frequent, and relevant stimuli.
Stimuli: key words, catch-phrases, images, jingles
Like priming a gas pump
Useful with inattentive audiences.
Frank Luntz focus group from PBS
“Finding key words that work”
Anomic: delivered to audience increasingly cynical and detached from traditional
sources of cultural influence (families, churches, schools).
(Mass Society Critique)
“The consequence of extreme cynicism, the rejection or doubt of all offered values,
is the normlessness known as anomie. This faithless position trusts no one and no
word. Without a reliance on words and a faith in truth, we lack the mortar of social
cohesion. Without trustworthy communication, there is no communion, no
community, only an aggregation of increasingly isolated individuals, alone in the
mass” (Pollay 29).
Unintended Social Consequences: values that advertising reinforces (explanation
see Pollay, figure 2)