Love it or hate it, advertising shapes popular culture

By Katie Baggs
I. J. Samson Junior High
St. John's, Newfoundland

A conspiracy. A scam. A nuisance. Advertising is practically everywhere, and its been called just about everything.

When we look through a magazine or watch television we're surrounded by it. It contributes to the loss of distinct cultures and the formation of a mainstream one, a culture of pop music and Gap clothing. The worst part: many big corporations with good advertising attract consumers who are often willing to pay big money for a brand-name.

The money brought in, one would think, would go to paying workers and keeping the business working as it should. However, with more money comes more greed, and so the owners find cheaper ways to produce their merchandise. They contract out to third-world countries where the slaves who make the product are paid less than a living wage. And so, a bigger profit is made, making the corporations richer. It is terrible how greedy people can be.

However, despite all these negative aspects that must be improved upon, we must still try to realize that advertising is an aspect of our society and our lives, and it isn't going to go away. We have to deal with the negative aspects while not forgetting about the positive. In spite of everything negative that advertising can do to the world, I believe that it is an art. At first you may be skeptical of this statement, but when considered, you may realize that it isn't completely unreasonable to believe it. Advertising is so widespread that everyone in the world is exposed to some form of it, just as with any other type of art. It is seen or heard and interpreted by so many people in so many different ways that it can measure up to other forms through which people express themselves.

Advertising is present in almost all forms of communication; the Internet, the telephone, the print media, the postal system, television, radio. People can even advertise by talking face to face with others. On the Internet, businesses, companies and corporations have their own Web pages advertising their products, their ways of doing business, their employees, or their services. There are ads placed all over various Web pages. Everywhere you go on the Internet, somebody (or something -- another computer maybe?) is trying to sell you something. On the telephone, telemarketing brings advertising down to one person trying to persuade the other into buying a product or a service by word of mouth.

The print media is probably the most widespread form of advertising; books, newspapers, magazines, flyers, catalogues. Newspapers hold classifieds, personal ads (tall, lanky male enjoys country music and walking in nature), ads for local businesses (car dealers, clothing stores), notices for upcoming events such as plays or festivals, and movie listings.

Magazines have pages and pages of advertisements, whether they're for musical instruments, sports equipment, clothes, food, make-up. I flip through the first 75 pages of IN STYLE magazine. My findings: 69 full page ads, and six pages of ‘useful' information. That's okay; I actually enjoy looking at the ads. The advertisements in fashion magazines are my favorite; these ads catch your eye because of the photography and design, interesting pictures and beautiful people.

A good ad has potential, in my opinion, to effect somebody more than some other types of art. More people may be exposed to advertisements such as those in fashion magazines and on billboards and posters more than they are exposed to other forms of art, and many ads depict the feelings or the images that are familiar, influential and appealing to the lives of people.

Where would we be without advertising? We would be in a world unfamiliar to us, a world where business isn't competitive, where the only things on television are programs - no commercials - where nobody drinks Coke or eats Starburst fruit chews without hiding the label. Maybe there wouldn't even be Coke or Starburst! A world where everything is done fairly, for a reason, without competition. Businesses would fail as a result of lack of publicity…….publicity wouldn't exist. Do you see what I'm saying? Advertising is a big part of our lives; without it I think we would be bored. It can be unfair, but we have to try to improve on that. Besides, the people who come up with some of these ads are awfully clever aren't they?