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Advertising And Society Essay

1119 words - 5 pages

Leiss, Klein and Jhally have often reasoned that the 1920's saw the emergence of the consumer culture that subsequently lead to a "new type of personality and social self based on individuality". This essay discusses the growth of consumer culture that began in the 1920's, how it developed and lead to a "new type of personality and social self" and how it became the basis for everything else that emerged from this culture.The end of the First World War marked the beginning of consumerism. Following WWI the economy of the U.S.A began to grow. It was at this time that the concept of advertising to large masses first gained momentum. Prior to the war, print media was used as a tool for ...view middle of the document...

At the same time the mass production of goods was started and this lead to a decrease in the cost of production of goods. Soon the nation began producing more than they could consume (Fletcher, 2009) Advertising therefore played a crucial role in sustaining the growing economy. Since they were constantly exposed to advertisements, people developed false needs - they bought into the advertisements and began consuming more than was necessary (Storey, 1999) Advertisers exploited this and started to equate products with happiness. This resulted in the formation of a new type of culture; an individualistic one. Prior to World War Two, the scope of advertisements was limited, as the platform to advertise was restricted to print media and radio and the audience for that was limited to educated adults. During the 1950's however television became popular and available to the common man. It was therefore during this time that consumer culture moved from catering to one small social group, to creating new ones. Consumer culture gave rise to the formation of new social groups and demographics, each having their own desires and wants; such as the birth of the teenager (Fletcher, 2009). This indicates a shift in the effect that advertising was trying to create from merely selling a product and lifestyle to determining the basis for the functioning of society. This can be seen in the 1959 print advertisement for Wind Song Perfume by Prince Matchabelli. The caption "He can't get you out of his mind…" equates commodities with people, suggesting that consuming certain goods adds to your personality; and that women aspire to be desired by men. The advertising here creates an artificial sense of what women want. However due to advertisers excessively marketing products with this subtext, soon women began to believe in this, thus leading to the development of a new and more complex idea of a 'social self'The turn of the 21st century changed the face of media and advertising. In the modern context, almost everything we do, see and believe is a result of consumerism. Often how we place people into social strata is based on the brands they wear and the products they consume. Our entire identity is determined by...

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