Consumer Organizations Fight Back Essay

This essay has a total of 1582 words and 8 pages.

Consumer Organizations Fight Back



In our society corporate advertising or more accurately labeled, corporate propaganda is
delivered through advertising and public relations. Advertising companies are constantly
targeting specific audiences and taking advantage of uninformed consumers. This
multi-billion dollar transnational industry’s propaganda campaigns affect private and
public lives every day. Advertising agencies definitely have an idea of the audience who
buys their product when they make up their ads. Sometimes these targeted audiences are
misled into buying products based upon strategies advertising agencies use to lure
customers in. Public Relations firms that most people have never heard of such as
Burson- Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton and Ketchum are working on behalf of a myriad of
powerful interests.

These powerful media moguls of the advertising industry went very much uncontested for
many years. However, the ever-increasing consumer organizations are putting more heat on
them to be more truthful and less deceiving. Consumer organizations such as the Better
Business Bureau and the Center for Media and Democracy, have been created to bring
awareness to the public about products that are misleading. These organizations define
their missions as consumer assistance, protection and/or advocacy (FCIC 1). The majority
of these consumer organizations develops and distributes educational and informational
materials about consumer products. In 1995, Common Courage Press published a book by
John Stauber (the founder of Center for Media and Democracy) called Toxic Sludge is Good
For You: Lies, Lies and the Public Relations Industry. While advertising agencies continue
to



look for the best marketing techniques, consumer agencies counter by bringing awareness
about the real purpose and nature of advertising practices.

Advertising, which is defined as any openly sponsored offering of goods, services or ideas
through any medium of communication, has gone through dramatic changes over time.
Advertising used to be informational and essentially told you that a product existed,
where it could be found, and what it was used for. Today, advertising talks about the
product’s status and attributes that have little to do with whether the product functions
for its intended purpose. Advertisers now see advertising as a way to generate interest
in products, and with the ever-growing Internet, it has grown to a global industry
(Phillip 28). The major US advertising media include newspapers, magazines, television
and radio, business publications billboards, and circulars sent through the mail.

The major criticisms of advertising are that it creates false values and impels people to
buy things that they neither need nor want and that, in fact, may be harmful such as
cigarettes. Advertising is looked at to be quick-witted and clever at its best.
Although, sadly some of the cleverest advertisements promotes things that should be best
left unpromoted, or are misleading to its audience. The ads that people are subjected to
are probably more influential than other forms of media because they are all around us and
feed into our subconscious constantly. It is likely that the average person will view
over 1,500 adverts in a given day (Marconi 52). As I mentioned, there are many different
medias for advertising. All of these medias, excluding radio, use visuals to as their
primary promotional tool. Consumers see something that appears


fun, looks nice, or is interesting and they want it. Agencies produce ads to attract
consumers to their product, however, sometimes interpretations and how closely the
consumer “reads into” these ads can me misinterpreted. In order to sell a product,
advertisers have created an attractive lifestyle that goes along with the product. Much
too often, consumers picture themselves living that “high lifestyle” if they were to buy
the product. In reply, advertising defenders say that advertising is meant to sell
products, not create values: that it can create a new market for products that fill a
genuine, though latent, need and that it furthers product improvement through free
competition (Phillip 4). These advertisers, through commission, are paid a great sum of
money to figure out how they can sell a product to an audience. They are not concerned
with the price or quality of the product, just the best way they can sell it.

There is a lot of work that goes into these advertising campaigns. The most important
task when creating an advertisement is figuring out who the targeted audience of the
product is. Once a target audience is chosen, the advertisers can begin to plan the
attributes in the ad that will hook the audience. They will usually throw something at
you to get your attention right from the start. This can include a likeable image, key
words, or a persuasive attribute of the product. There are even advertisements that have
been reported to have subliminal images. These are images that are far from obvious, yet
your brain detects them. The advertisements are tested and revised many times before
ever being released to the public, to ensure the product is of its full marketing
potential.



Consumer organizations began forming in response to the misconception of ads that the
public was facing. There are thousands of these groups who fight different types of
companies, but for the common reason of keeping the consumers aware of misleading
advertising. The majority of these consumer organizations are independent and non-profit
programs. It seems that there is a consumer organization for just about any topic
imaginable. Instead of selling you a product based on an image, these organizations look
to help the consumer find the best price on a product or the product of the best quality
and reliability. In some cases consumer organizations serve a purpose other than
informing the public about a product. They also provide a number of services to consumers
including monitoring advertisements for truth and accuracy, screening advertising that
Continues for 4 more pages >>