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How do advertising images persuade us to consume?

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Introduction

How do advertising images persuade us to consume? Advertising images confront us in our everyday lives in an attempt to persuade us to consume their products. They are one of the most important cultural factors moulding and reflecting our life today. They are inescapable and the main aim of any company is to be 'top of mind' and on the consumers 'shopping list'. However, Dyer argues that we usually take adverts for granted because they are so pervasive, but many people claim that they are one of the most important influences in our lives. Advertisements depict a general social image and message in their sales pitch. Dyer argues that the advertising media has the ability to "shape and sometimes change a persons behaviour, opinions and attitudes" (Dyer: 73). He also comments on the fact that an advert sometimes "promotes general ideas and beliefs" (Dyer: 73). The primary function of advertisements is to introduce us to a wide range of consumer goods and in its simplest sense, advertising means "drawing attention" to something (Dyer: 2). Adverts present images of "things to be desired, people to be envied, and life as it 'should be'" (Sturken and Cartwright: 2001). A key characteristic of photography within advertising and marketing is the enhancing and altering the meaning of lifeless objects. This then turns them into commodities and companies then use advertisements as a way to entice the viewer into believing what their lives could be like if they were to buy these commodities. ...read more.

Middle

Hall and Whannel in Dyer also suggest a few other types of adverts. The Compound advert uses a subtle approach of persuasion and mainly concentrates on using images to entice consumers. These can be used in 'easy reading' magazines where an advert may contain some simple information about where the product may be purchased from, but this is accompanied by a stunning image. When this type of advertising is used to persuade us to consume, it is hoped that the reader would associate the "product" with the "total impression" (Hall and Whannel in Dyer: 89). The next form of advertising used by companies in that of Complex. Here there is an emphasis on the presentation of the luxury and status that the product will provide. A background image will take over and the product merely merges into it. This is mainly used on more expensive consumer products and has been used in a variety of Rolex adverts. There is a concentration on imagery for example a secluded beach, rather than the product itself. The last type of advertising described by Hall and Whannel is Sophisticated advertising. This is an extension of the complex model but explores the hidden and subconscious feelings within the viewer. Subtle association and persuasion is again used here but products are associated with fantasies. Visual imagery is often blurred to make the advertisement seem like that of a dream. Here the product is then linked to something which is not reality. ...read more.

Conclusion

If an anxiety is created within a person they will consume a certain product in order to combat this anxiety. The influences of advertising can be attributed to recent technological improvements in production and distribution of visual representations. It has even been called a "graphic revolution" by Daniel Boorstin (Dyer: 82). Advertisements encourage great expectations because they have become more dramatic and vivid themselves. Nowadays, reality cannot even match up to the images portrayed in advertising. They are something out of this world and this relates back to consumers being able to escape into a better life than reality by buying certain products. We live within a massive consumer society where products are continually being adapted and improved for our consumption. In this Capitalist society, adverts are used to promote these products and highlight the "enormous assortment of goods" (Sturken and Cartwright: 2001), that are available. Media influence in this sense can be said to be like a hypodermic needle that "injects a message into the mind of the audience" (Dyer: 76). Advertisements use very clever imagery to create the ideal representation of a product. This imagery is used to attract a consumer and appeals to our desires. Adverts depict a general social message in their sales pitch that has the ability to "shape and sometimes change a person's behaviour, opinions and attitudes" (Dyer: 75). Ultimately, advertisements appeal to our wants and desires and through this persuade us to consume. They appeal to us by selling "concepts of belonging" (Sturken and Cartwright: 218). By consuming certain products, it seems that we can gain a sense of belonging or even a completely new, improved lifestyle. ...read more.

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