Monday, September 10, 2007

Advertising Industry a Reflection of the Times

Advertising is one of the few industries that not only acclimates to changes in public perception but institutes them as well. What we as a population purchase is often more a reflection of what’s sold to us than what we want or need. In fact, it’s the perception of need that drives the advertising industry.

If the average person performed an analytical cost/benefit analysis on the purchase of a thinner phone, a faster computer or the latest pair of sneakers, savings accounts everywhere would be earning low interest yields on much more substantial nest egg. Unfortunately, analytical thinking has no part in our collective conscience when it comes to making purchases, at least for the average consumer. Instead, we are readily convinced of which new songs we like from a very limited pool of easily accessible offerings. We are told which styles of clothing are in and which are fashion suicide. We are bombarded with messages aimed at providing us with the knowledge of how we are supposed to think, feel, act and most of all, consume.

Colleges are teaching the same fundamentals of demographics, recognition, repetition and visual appeal that have been a hallmark of marketing for print, television and to a great degree radio since the 1950’s. The biggest change between that time period and the one in which we are currently living isn’t found in academia, but instead in the tenants that mark our modern world.

We buy what is sold to us because we need to belong, because we want the best, the fastest, the cheapest, the latest or the most unique. We buy out of the need to keep up with the Jones’ and then buy to set ourselves apart from them. We buy with purpose while claiming indifference. Successful advertising and marketing offers a reflection of how we feel today, and while it may prey upon our fears or speak to our vanity, it only reflects the importance we place on our inner feelings. Perhaps that’s why advertising is always evolving, to meet the needs and expectations of a society that is constantly in a state of change.

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