In Praise of Advertising
Hood, John, Consumers' Research Magazine
For the last few years--until 1998, at least--the Super Bowl hasn't exactly featured the most interesting and competitive of football games. They've been blowouts, over by the first half at the latest. But one form of competition has remained as strong and vibrant as ever: the fight to put on the most memorable television advertisement. Over the years, many such ads have made their debut during the Super Bowl, including Apple's "1984" ads touting their new Macintosh, celebrity ads for Pepsi and Coke, and the croaking frogs of "Bud-wei-ser."
Isn't there something wrong with this picture? Should advertising overshadow that for which it is supposed to be merely a sponsor? Well, the answers to these questions lie far beyond the game of football. As James Twitchell, author of Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture points out, it isn't just the Super Bowl ads that live on long after the game is forgotten. Advertising generates powerful and lasting social symbols. Think of Morris the cat, Mikey the Life cereal kid, the Marlboro Man, the Jolly Green Giant, the Energizer Bunny. Think of tunes like "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz," and "We've Only Just Begun" (a song the Carpenters made a hit after it had already been widely heard in a bank commercial). Think of slogans like "Have it your way," "Just do it," "Snap, crackle, pop," and "Be all you can be."
The ubiquity of advertising, as well as its apparent excess and wastefulness, has led many social critics and would-be consumer "advocates" to demonize it. "Advertising is the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it," wrote one critic. Novelist George Orwell said advertising "is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket." Clare Boothe Luce wrote that advertising had "done more to cause the social unrest of the twentieth century than any other single factor." A common attack is that ads manufacture consumers' demand for products that they would otherwise not feel a need to buy. "Few …
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Publication information: Article title: In Praise of Advertising. Contributors: Hood, John - Author. Magazine title: Consumers' Research Magazine. Volume: 81. Issue: 4 Publication date: April 1998. Page number: 10+. © 1999 Consumers' Research, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1998 Gale Group.
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