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The effects of advertising on our fragile minds

The effects of advertising on our fragile minds

May 10, 2021

Advertising is a discipline that draws on the knowledge of social psychology applied to marketing and tries to direct every purchase decision we make. Very linked to studies of influence and persuasion, it manages to modify our habits, becoming a phenomenon that transcends the mere act of buying and selling.

The language he uses and the reality he shows us seek to respond to the wishes, needs and motivations of an audience, which is not usually recognized as such.

Advertising is ubiquitous

Guérin is forceful when affirming that "the air that we breathe is composed of oxygen, nitrogen and publicity". Advertising is ubiquitous


It invades all spaces, it is installed in our homes, it sneaks into our electronic devices, it fills social networks and mass media. He manages to conduct our conversations and our thoughts, we reproduce his slogans and we hummed his melodies. It is a protagonist of our external reality and our inner world.

Advertising as a social modeling agent

From the sociology it is affirmed that the publicity is agent of social modeling because, besides influencing the habits of purchase, accelerates the transmission of attitudes and values ​​and can even transform them . It transmits a hegemonic discourse, it makes us a certain reality, a perception that will end up modeling our symbolic thought and also our desires (Romero, 2011).


But nevertheless, the vast majority of us will hardly admit to being influenced by advertising . "There are so few people who admit the influence of advertising on their shopping habits, like madmen who admit their madness" (Pérez and San Martín, 1995). Psychology repeatedly shows us that we are wrong if we believe we are free from its influence.

The advertising illusionism

In the game of seduction, the publicist part with advantage . He knows the frustrations, prejudices and intimate desires of his goal and turns them into the perfect packaging of a product that, supposedly, will solve any weakness of his client. In this way, advertising not only informs about the qualities that the product possesses, but it gives it additional values ​​that are not even part of it. It is a kind of illusionist art, capable of covering the product with a black light that hides or lets see what the publicist wants to show, not what really exists.


Advertising plays a substitute role when you exchange symbol and product, getting the consumer to want the symbol with more impetus than the product he thinks he needs . It is a fetishistic behavior associated with the need for distinction, status and recognition that all humans have. The cosmetic manufacturer, Charles Revlon, defined this substitution effect perfectly when he stated: "in our factory we make lipsticks, in our advertisements we sell hope" (Ibídem).

Advertising is class

Advertising appeals to class consciousness with its strategies. Each ad is aimed at a target audience or a specific sector of society . Each object is endowed with a symbolic value that serves to create in the consumer an illusion of social ascent if he possesses it. At the same time, advertising tries to avoid in its stories scenes that show division of classes or social conflicts, while force a fictitious social equality creating products for any purchasing power (Romero, 2011), categorizes types of consumers and satisfies them with products adapted to each target

Advertising also has a problem-eliminating function, or "happy world" effect. Always try to present a beautiful, playful and fascinating world, in which consumption is related to leisure, beauty and well-being, that is, it presents us with a "beautiful side of life", ignoring any other less desirable reality, de-dramatizing our daily life.

Know it to prevent its effects

In addition to its economic value, we observe how advertising has a remarkable social value . It is positive to learn to recognize their different values ​​to avoid possible harmful effects. For example, learn to detect when it may be being used as a means of ideological pressure, or to recognize its class capacity when it categorizes us according to different types of consumption. Many researchers argue that advertising is alienating because it alienates us by creating new needs, or when it digests a certain vision of the world.

Advertising stereotypes and uniforms us by proposing models and fashions that we will follow massively, matching our criteria , ideals and tastes.It is the depersonalizing effect of advertising, which homogenizes a society that claims to be plural but, paradoxically, will take advantage of this unification to try, again, to locate products that seek to endow the buyer with distinction and uniqueness, because we all like to be special (Carnegie, 1936). In this way it makes us enter into a spiral of depersonalization-a distinction that is difficult to come out of in the consumer market in which we live.

"Announce is to poke at open wounds (...). You mention the defects and we act on each one of them. We play with all the emotions and with all the problems, from not being able to stay ahead, to the desire to be one more among the crowd. Each one has a special desire "(Della Femina, cited in Pérez and San Martín, 1995).

Bibliographic references:

  • Carnegie, D. (1936). How to win friends and influence people. USA: Simon & Schuster
  • Pérez, J.M., San Martín, J. (1995). Sell ​​something more than jeans. Advertising and education in values. Communicate (5) 21-28.
  • Romero, M.V. (2011). The advertising language. The permanent seduction. Spain: Ariel.

Make Men Masculine Again (May 2021).


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