Thursday, February 8, 2007
1- Though it's true that propaganda and advertising are both ways to sway public opinion, they are not the same thing. Because of the totalitarian justification of propaganda as a valuable tool to advance and legitimize the interests of the ruling party (Lenin, Goebbels, Plekhanov, etc), the term has strong political overtones. On the other hand, advertising uses techniques and practices to bring products, services, opinions, even causes to public notice for the purpose of persuading the public to respond in certain ways. In a Capitalist system, most advertising involves promoting “goods for sale,” but similar methods are used to encourage people to drive safely, to support various charities, or to vote for political candidates, among many other examples. 2- Advertising is late-Capitalism’s most important source of income for the media (e.g., newspapers, magazines, or television stations). 3- The most basic media for advertising are: (a) Newspapers (offers large circulations, a readership located close to the advertiser's place of business, and the opportunity to alter content on a frequent and regular basis), (b) Magazines (of general interest, aimed at specific audiences), (c) TV and radio. For advertisers the most important facts about a TV or radio program are the size and composition of its audience (size determines the amount of money the broadcaster can charge; composition determines the advertiser's choice as to when a certain message should be run). (d) Other minor media are direct mail, outdoor billboards, posters, transit advertising (which can reach the millions of users of mass-transit systems) and even smaller items, such as matchbooks or calendars. 4- Advertising will be effective if its production -and placement- is based on a knowledge of its target, plus a skilled use of the media. Advertising agencies can orchestrate complex campaigns (whose strategies are based on research into consumer behavior and demographic analysis). So, the marketing side of advertising employs publicity to achieve its aim. 5- There’s no question that advertising is a powerful way to inform consumers. In a free-market economy effective advertising is essential to a company’s survival, for unless consumers know about a company's product they are unlikely to buy it. In criticism of advertising it has been argued that the consumer must pay for the cost of advertising in the form of higher prices for goods; against this point it is argued that advertising enables goods to be mass marketed, thereby bringing prices down. 6- It has been argued that the cost of major advertising campaigns is so high that it stimulates oligopolies. 7- Finally, there’s the issue of “undue influence,” false advertising and the use of deceptive techniques such as concealment of facts, exaggeration and other psychological appeals.