Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off, Fight Club (film)
It is very important to be aware of the persuasive and perversive power of advertising in our society. For example, you should know that many companies spend big money on advertising aimed at children, and more specifically at their diet. Let me be even more specific, I am talking about sugary cereals, salty snacks, fast food, and fizzy drinks.
They know that children are unaware of the persuasive purpose of advertising, and then children encourage their parents to buy them those advertised products regardless of whether they are healthy or not. They use them as brand ambassadors!
Advertising is ubiquitous. It is present in the life of almost every citizen of a civilized society, in almost every aspect of our daily lives. It includes: television and radio commercials, billboards and street furniture, magazine and newspaper print ads, store catalogues, sponsorship of events, teams, and leagues, famous celebrities endorsing commercial products, etc,
Furthermore, zapping and video-recording devices and their option of fast-forwarding through commercial breaks are making commercial interruptions less and less effective. However, the industry is always fighting back. For instance, they use on-line advertising (web banners, email marketing, social media, etc) and product placement. This is the inclusion or reference of products, services, and trade marks in TV shows, series, video games, and films: Home Alone (Pepsi), E.T. (Reese’s Pieces), I-Robot (Converse), etc.
What can we do?
The computer/tablet/Video game console/television are not nannies or babysitters! Moreover, they are not a family member either.
It is very important to rationalize their use, for example, set viewing limits for watching television or playing video games. Parents should control the content of programs their children watch and the amount of time they spend on TV. Don’t turn the television on unless there is a specific program you want to see. Turn it off afterward.
Educate Yourself. Read, search online, and talk with people about “healthy eating,” “junk food,” “fast food advertising,” “persuasive techniques in Advertising,” and similar terms.
Watch the superb documentary Supersize me where Morgan Spurlock personally explores the consequences that a diet of solely McDonald’s food for one month has on his health. Another interesting one is The Story of Stuff. It “is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.”
Ideally, you could take consumption decisions together.
If we all change our buying and consuming habits and put pressure on our politicians through social and political activism, big companies will follow suit and will stop making junk food, polluting the environment, and designing products with a limited lifespan. We need to be the change we want to see in the world and lead by example.