“No-one can escape the influence of advertising” – Pope Paul VI

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Discursive Essay – Caroline Coyle 5n1

“No-one can escape the influence of advertising” – Pope Paul VI

It influences what we eat, what we wear, what we drink, and can have a certain effect on who we are. But should advertising have such power?

It’s one of the most powerful tools in the media, used on billboards, newspapers, Internet, television and radio.  Adverts are not only there to push the viewer into buying their product, but can be much more about the character of the consumers, and how they should feel when they use or possess the advertised product.

Advertising research found that the media could isolate and shape someone's preferences for different toys, TV characters, life styles, subcultures, etc. at different ages. Advertising proves to be particularly effective if these preferences were then fed back to them in the ads. A double reinforcement of values takes place, where children's preferences are formed by the media and presented to them again in advertising.

Children who are exposed to a lot of advertising are then educated about a particular lifestyle; they are educated about living in a consumer society. They learn certain attitudes - the importance of money, what products are needed, how they are to be used and how products are supposed to make them feel.  

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Special shows are now dedicated entirely to advertising and millions of pounds are spent trying to portray products with the right image. But is it right that adverts can take up so much time, money and yield so much power?

An extreme abuse of this power comes in the form of Nestlé’s baby milk campaign.  According to IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network), Nestle is the largest single source of violations of a marketing code.  Targeting mothers in developing countries, Nestle tries to persuade them that breast-feeding is not as healthy as using their baby milk formulae.  Nothing could be ...

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