BLOG POST #6: Advertising Industry

18 Oct

Essentially the advertising industry is the persuasion industry. Advertisers persuade consumers to buy certain products or services, or to take certain actions.  As you know, the industry is not without criticism. For better or worse, advertising shapes social norms and contributes to economic systems.

We began to talk about this idea a few weeks ago and I’d like to continue that conversation this week. We’ve also touched on the ethics of advertising.  So, I am asking you think about them both in terms of the advertising industry as a whole.

Over the summer, I found an interesting blog post about persuasion. I would like you to read that blog post and discuss how it relates to the advertising industry.  Thinking points include:

  • When is advertising persuasion and when is it manipulation?
  • Does intent really matter when you’re trying to make people spend money?
  • Is there a difference beside advertising a product and asking consumers to engage in an action, such as volunteering time?
  • Can you draw a line in the sand, so to speak, that would delineate persuasive advertising from manipulative advertising?
  • Is it fair that there exists a multi-billion dollar persuasion industry?

12 Responses to “BLOG POST #6: Advertising Industry”

  1. Thea Corona October 19, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    In many aspects, persuasive advertising is the same as manipulative advertising, although this particular blogger seems to define the terms using very different approaches. As he first noted, his skill is to have people agree with him through print, and perhaps we are agreeing in the difference because he is persuasive, or in fact manipulative. Although, it is clear that persuasive advertising is less “sneaky” as manipulative advertising. For example, selling a person who makes a decent income a product that they do not necessarily need, but will work, is persuasive with no serious harm done. To advertise to a paycheck to paycheck family insurance that costs a ton, but covers nothing seems manipulative. This can be seen not only with advertising, but recently with the investment firms on wall street. The nature of this particular business is to attain profits, and many times the “fine line” is crossed between persuasion and manipulation simply to attain profits, and that is a unfortunate sad truth.

  2. Jordan MacConnell October 19, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    I believe that the line between persuasion and manipulation is very thin, especially when referring to advertising. The blog suggests that persuasion is about truthfulness and transparency and wanting to convince someone of something because one truly believes it will better the person. Manipulation is suggested to be about an ulterior motive and include a strong bias. If these are the definitions being used, the most advertisements incorporate both. Advertisers’ and the companies they work for do have an ulterior motive, money. Most things we buy are not exactly necessities, but advertisements portray them as such. At the same time though a company does truly believe in their product and puts out truthful information about that product. Most advertisements are not trying to hide anything. Also what is being advertised contributes a great deal to whether there is persuasion or manipulation occurring. I believe that we can all think for ourselves, so in the end it is fair to have an industry all about persuasion.

  3. Jenny Deighton October 20, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    I believe that advertising always incorporates persuasion and manipulation. If you are putting out ads to get people to buy or take part of your product, then your are persuading them. As for manipulation, a majority of the time advertisements are designed to have people spend money to obtain a products that aren’t really necessities. People should know this by common sense. You DON’T need a Burger King breakfast to get you through the day, there are other options! I believe that “wrongful” manipulation takes place when the advertisement tells blatant lies. For instance, AXE commercials can not claim that by using their product that you will be irresistible to girls. If you’re a jerk, your still not going to be getting girls; your just going to be a good smelling jerk. As far as money being in a factor in persuasion and manipulation, it plays a part, but almost all advertising targets consumers that spend money. PSA ads are different in that it is a call to action. So while they are being persuaded to do something, I don’t feel as there is a bad manipulation to the audience. So as far as having a clear line between persuasiveness and manipulation in advertising, there isn’t one. They are both needed on some level. That is the purpose of advertising.

  4. Molly McGranahan October 20, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    I think I may disagree with the fact that majority of advertisements are both persuasive and manipulative. As defined in the blog post, manipulation is a route of persuasion that ultimately leaves the persuader benefitting and the persuaded suffering. Although many advertisers do attempt manipulation, whether they are ensuring their product is the best of its kind or guaranteeing you will feel twice as healthier if you use their brand, I do not believe many people believe their alleged claims and that the most important aspect of advertising is not persuasion or manipulation but building brand loyalty. For example, if a family has used Crest toothpaste their entire lives, and they see an extremely persuasive commercial exemplifying the benefits of using Aquafresh toothpaste in which the advertiser attempts to manipulate the audience by expressing how much stronger their teeth will be, what is the probability that that family will switch their brand of toothpaste? In my opinion and with my knowledge and familiarity of my own strong brand loyalties, it’s not very likely. Although I understand that persuasion is a very important element of the advertising world, I would not go so far as to say that it is a persuasion industry. I think the industry has grown to surpass the persuasive foundation and is now building itself by spreading brand recognition and further defining and conveying their brand’s image.

  5. Shelby DuBois October 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    I think that even though you are trying to get people to spend money by advertising, there can still be a difference in whether that advertising is persuasive or manipulative. Many products that are on the market are products that actually are needed and are of use to at least someone. At the same time though, many products aren’t necessary at all and therefore most of that advertising would be manipulative. I really think that it all depends on the ad though, not the product. There could be a product that really isn’t of practical use to anyone but cold still have practical and ethical advertising. It is only manipulation if like the blogger said, you are persuading someone to do or buy something that will end p causing them harm in the long run. I think it is fair that there exists a multi-billion dollar persuasion business because every company in the world is trying to get ahead and compete, and advertising just helps with that. That is just how business is. There is always going to be persuasion in the business world.

  6. Samantha Montgomery October 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    In my opinion the line between persuasion and manipulation is a fuzzy one. In most cases, when persuasion is in the best interest of the consumer it is ethically ok. However, when words are manipulated and twisted the consumer becomes confused, and this becomes an issue of ethics. Also trying to persuade consumers to buy things they don’t need can sometimes pass an ethical boundary. The point of advertising is to contribute to capitalism and to further our economy. In my opinion some persuasion causes people to continue on with capitalism and it is only an issue when words are twisted. I think if consumers understand pros and cons to the products they are consuming, then the product advertisement seems ethical to me. When consumers are confused about pros and cons and ways a product can harm them, the ads become manipulative. When products are harming consumers and they weren’t offered the right information to make a good buyer’s decision, this is when manipulation becomes an issue.

  7. Nick Tsangaris October 21, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

    Honestly, this is the most difficult question that we have had to answer to date. I can argue it from both sides. On one hand, I am able to argue that when it comes down to it, the whole basis of not only the advertising field, but the marketing, public relations, business, and many other fields, is to have consumers spend money on items. Whether the persuasion is happening innocently or underhandedly does not matter as long as your company is increasing in sales. On the other hand, I could also make the argument that there is a fine line between trying to convince people that the product you are selling will be beneficial to a consumer’s life and bluntly lying to a consumer. This line can be especially emphasized when the lying to the consumer can harm the consumer, such as faulty advertisements for diet pills or medications. So I do not think that I have a clear stance on this subject.

  8. Ollie Birckhead October 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    There is no way to determine the difference between persuasive advertising and manipulative advertising, because at the end of the day, it comes down to the intent of the advertiser which is only truly known by them and only them. Cigarette salesmen could very well believe that the alleged “cool” and sophistication that they claim comes with smoking is worth the health risks inherent in the act. It comes down to the intent of the advertiser. Similarly, demonizing advertising because it is “designed to make people spend money.” Is absurd. Without advertising, people simply would not know what was out there and available to be purchased. For example take televisions. Somewhere, out there is the perfect television for any given individual who wants one. The perfect combination of utility, form and function. It is the manufacturer and advertisers job to make sure that the buying public is aware of their product so that that one individual can be united with that one special television.

  9. Ralph Fritz October 21, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    One. I feel that persuasion describes a process that can be either for “good” or “bad” means, but manipulation is inherently “bad.” I do believe that intent is a big factor, but even more important is the transparency and truthfulness. You can persuade with bad intentions or even be manipulative, but you should at least be honest and open about it.

    Two. Persuade people to spend money no matter how unfairly, but don’t manipulate them into spending money. Business is business, it’s not personal.

    Three. In a sense it is more difficult to convince people to part with something they cannot possibly get back- such as time. They may be able to get their money back by returning or reselling a product, but they can’t get the time spent back. In this area, the intent of the advertiser may warrant the strongest methods of persuasion.

    Four and Five. We may be able to draw that line in the sand, but it doesn’t matter at all because the wheels are already in motion and nothing can be changed. As long as we maintain our kung-fu grip on freewill and combat the worst in manipulative measures (subliminal ads or what have you) we’ll maintain this delicate balance. As long as they aren’t beaming ads into my brain as I sleep or holding my loved ones hostage, I’ll shrug my shoulders and mutter “Hooray for Capitalism.”

  10. zach boothe October 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    Advertising is persuasion when you’re trying to get your audience to buy your product, and it is genuinely good for them or with good intentions for them. When your advertisement is a lie, not for the consumer, or decieving in a way, then it is manipulation, because you are trying to get someone to buy into something that’s unfair for them or not good for them.
    “Because I used the same set of skills to convince somebody to do something that I genuinely believed was in their best interest, instead of convincing them to do something that I was pretty sure was not in their best interest – and very likely was being less than truthful with at least part of what I was talking about.”
    Intent does matter when you’re trying to get money because if you want loyal consumers, you want to be loyal to them. If you are being decieving when it comes to putting out you product, then what are they going to think about the people behind what they just bought?

  11. Lisa Selnick October 21, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    Persuasion and manipulation are easily confused and can even cross paths in not only the advertising world but in daily life among peers. The difference is that persuasion is simply trying to convince another of a better side and see a point of view to possibly think in the thought just persuaded. Manipulation is when one tries to convince another of something to only benefit the person giving the advice or information, which could leave the other in a worse position than previous. Intent does matter, especially when it comes to the consumer. Consumers are wiser than before and look for information previous to purchases. If the intentions of the add are genuine, then the consumer will feel safe and in return more likely to respond to the advertisement in a positive manner. Tjere is a large difference between advertising a product and asking the consumers to become involved. Ads are thrown at the public hourly and can be overlooked, or subconsciously responded to. The different is that when consumer’s become volunteers and have to spend their time thinking or concentrating on the product they get a strong feel for it and what the company selling it is all about. I do think there can be a line drawn between persuasion and manipulation but as I said before the line can also easily cross paths depending on what is being sold and the circumstances such as selling cable to a student but then selling them a bigger channel deal so they have the history or discovery channel for school. It can easily be both because both the student and the cable company win in this situation. The persuasion industry has a lot of money involved but it goes along with the advertisement industry and if it is to benefit others than it is for a good cause however, yes the money could go to poverty but that is not the persuasion industries fault but the human dynamics and how they need to be persuaded to put the money elsewhere.

  12. Kacie Whetstone September 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I believe that there is definitely a point that persuasion turns into manipulation. I think that that changes when the advertisers mind no longer has their customer first, but has their company listed first. Intent does matter when you’re trying to make people spend money. The advertiser may get one person to buy their product, but no advertising is as good as word of mouth. Therefore, if the advertiser disappoints one buyer, that buyer will tell many other potential buyers. I don’t think a person will ever be able to delineate a line between persuasive and manipulative advertising. The line is going to be constantly moved by diverse opinions. I also believe that it is fair that there is a multi-billion dollar persuasion industry. Persuasion is advertising, and advertising is something that many different types of media rely on. Without advertising AKA persuasion where would are newspapers, magazines, and even television be?

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