It goes without saying that all of us are influenced by adverts, commercials, brochures, bright pictures, sample sales and free gifts that are used to advertise goods, service and I’d say a certain way of life. In fact advertising has become part and parcel of our every day life. Advertisements are all around us, not just on TV, radio and in the press, but also at sports grounds, in shop windows, and on posters, carrier bags, badges, T-shirts, trams and buses and even hot air balloons. Whether we like it or not, advertising is a powerful force, and all countries have different ways of persuading people to buy something. Nevertheless, they have much in common.
If you don’t mind, I’m going to dwell upon some of the gags they use and tell you how they influence personally me.
To begin with, I’d like to say that advertising often uses the language and pictures to make us believe that we should be ashamed of ourselves for not buying a certain product for
our families or ourselves. They play on our feelings, emotions, and especially our wish to be up-to – date and knowledgeable. Frankly speaking I can only tell one shampoo from the other by the effect it produces on my hair. It sometimes leaves it silky, manageable, shiny or heavy, greasy or dull. But I’m flattered to hear that I’m buying the one that is “scientifically developed” or “has been scientifically approved by experts” and is “a revolution in scalp skin care”.
The numerous ads exploit our wish to be as good as others. They challenge us to “keep up to date”, “keep up with the neighbours”, or even “keep one jump ahead”. The message is to buy the product if you don’t want to be left behind. I must tell you that it’s very tempting to buy a TV set of the new millennium or a coffee maker that every other family in all European countries uses. But here an average Russian consumer inevitably faces two problems: what’s to be done with a previous one that is in perfect working order and, secondly, how to earn as much money as every other European family. I find those ads humiliating and try to ignore the information about weekends on Hawaii’s cottages, Italian kitchens and posh cars.
The third trick they use is to say: be attractive. Pictures of sexy women and strapping young fellows are often used to draw attention to a product, and the suggestion is that we will be desirable and socially successful if we use it. That’s ridiculous! An untidy woman is repulsive and vulgar no matter whether she uses a brand famous new French perfume or not. In my opinion a man smoking “Camel” on a high mountain cliff doesn’t look romantic and brave. It’s totally absurd to climb that high so that to inhale nicotine instead of fresh mountain air. Besides, he pollutes the global atmosphere and risks cancer.
However, there are some ads, which I find very instructive. These ads persuade us to do things well. The idea is that you must buy the product if you want to do your job properly. Many soap powders are sold through the idea that they “wash whiter than white”, “remove stains” and so on. That’s how I discovered “Tide” and “Ariel” washing powders. It would have cost me a pretty penny to buy and try dozens of others.
The ads which I really like and approve of are those that tell us to be responsible or act responsibly. These are adverts for health foods, environmentally friendly products, and even charities. They really appeal to the caring side of human nature. They aim to make us feel guilty if we ignore the appeal.