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The Harmful World Of Advertising And Marketing

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In a world where money is king, advertising has become the seller’s best friend. But has it become the buyer’s worst enemy? Some studies suggest that we are exposed to as many as twenty thousand adverts per day. Some of these are subliminal, and most people won’t pay attention to more than one percent of all the ads that they see. But that still leaves an astounding two-hundred adverts seen by every person, every day. Adverts are everywhere. Anything that catches the eyes of potential buyers is likely to contain some form of advertisement. We are constantly bombarded with adverts, but how many of those are harmless and how many are dangerous?

One of the main concerns with advertisement is the way that they can manipulate our brains. Advertisers on the internet are able to have their products seen by millions every day, whether it be through websites or social media such as Facebook or Twitter. By associating a product with things that carry positive connotations, advertisers can convert these positive feelings that we have to positive feelings towards their product. Advertising creates a “fake need” in a person’s brain. It induces a desire for a product which they probably didn’t even know existed 30 seconds ago. Successful advertisers have found that a sense of fear and urgency is the most powerful form of advertising, and it effectively out-prioritises any other emotion which someone may feel towards a product. This shows that advertising is dangerous as it controls the subconscious of the brain and shepherds consumers towards buying products that they don’t need and may even be better off without.

The magnitude of this problem increases when the realisation that the majority of internet and social media users are young, impressionable children. These children are exposed to countless adverts per day, each one more enticing than the last. Advertising inspires and promotes impulse buying rather than evaluative and critical thinking. Marketing teaches children to buy based on the face of the brand while ignoring any negative effects that the product may have. Children are obsessed with their favourite celebrities and want to be like them in every way possible. If they see the celebrity that they idolize endorse a product, they are much more inclined to buy that product. This shows that we are causing problems for the younger generation by bombarding them with constant advertisement.

Seeing adverts online is bad enough, but when companies such as Facebook store your personal information to tailor ads to your ‘interests’ or ‘hobbies’, a much more serious problem begins to arise. In 2015, Facebook were taken to court over claims that they tracked the online browsing of not only Facebook users, but also those who don’t even own Facebook accounts. Targeted Advertisement is not only infringing the privacy of internet users, but it is also being used to promote political views. In early January, Facebook allowed ads to be shown on their website from Britain First, a far- right activist group best known for their harassment of Muslims in England, who were protesting against an “upgraded mosque” in Maidstone, England. Facebook insisted that the advert did not initially violate it’s policies, but were pressured to take down the ads due to Britain First being banned from the site several months earlier. Britain First have previously invaded multiple mosques and have attempted to convert those inside the mosques to Christianity by handing out bibles and claiming that they should “reject the false prophet Muhammad and read the bible”. Online adverts have a strong influence and need to be monitored to prevent promotion of wrongful ideals and morals.

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Unfortunately, the tragedy of advertising doesn’t end there. The most prominent and powerful form of advertisement lies within gambling ads, which have proven their power to ruin lives and families. Gambling ads are all but inescapable. These ads have taken over television, in fact, it is not uncommon to see five or six betting ads in a row. But why are there so many? Research shows that last year the gambling industry spent over £1.5 billion on marketing and advertisement, and they do this because they make a lot of money from it. Gambling appeals to the side of a person that wants to be successful. They see it as a way to get rich without any effort or spending any time and that is exactly what the industry wants people to see. They want people to see the light at the end of the tunnel, that huge, illustrious jackpot while hiding the victims of gambling, the people who were encouraged to keep betting until they lost everything. These victims are much more common than people seem to believe. Over 400,000 people in the UK alone have a serious gambling addiction, while a further two million are at risk or on the brink of developing one. The industry won over £13.8 billion from UK gamblers in 2016 yet pay a measly £10 million in compensation to the government to help with problem gamblers. But those four-hundred thousand people don’t cover the full problem. It’s not just the population of over 18’s who’ve been affected by the allure of gambling.

Teenagers, 11 to 18-year olds, are exposed to just as many gambling advertisements as adults are, or possibly even more. Gambling ads are unrelenting, teenagers were found to be getting targeted ads from betting companies. This has been resolved in February of 2019 following a new ruling by the CAP. These ads have been shown to be detrimental to children’s welfare. A survey suggested that around 14% of children in the UK gamble on a somewhat regular basis and 1.7% of children had severe gambling problems. Studies have shown that online purchases, often found in video games, have seen an influx in buyers. These purchases are seen to be a “safe” and “child-friendly” form of gambling, but that is unfortunately not the case. Research clearly defines the relationship between gambling and responsiveness. The more times someone gambles, the less of a thrill they get from it, leading them to seek further heights to sate their gambling appetite. People who gamble have also been shown to have less control over their impulses than people who don’t gamble, whether it is a cause, or a consequence of gambling has yet to be determined fully. Advertisements influence impressionable teenagers and have shown to damage and eventually ruin young people’s lives.

Advertising, of course, isn’t all bad. Adverts can help spread the word about possible disease treatment, charities and many healthcare options for the elderly to name a few. Adverts even contribute massively to funding some of the world’s biggest companies such as ITV. Thanks to advertising, companies are forced to stay on their toes to keep their prices competitive, and consumers are able to see the best offers without much effort. Without advertising, local businesses would have a very difficult time opening and spreading the word about their services.

Therefore, it is clear that adverts and the industry of advertising shares a love-hate relationship with society. Although it helps in some key areas, the negative effects which it is having on our society – and more importantly our children – are far from ideal, and ultimately very harmful. A world in which advertising is allowed to run rampant brings about many doubts about our future. This is the question we must ask ourselves as this epidemic rears its ugly head; do we leave advertising how it is and suffer the consequences, or do we tackle this problem head on and confront it before it gets out of hand?

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The Harmful World Of Advertising And Marketing. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from
“The Harmful World Of Advertising And Marketing.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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The Harmful World Of Advertising And Marketing [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2022 Dec 7]. Available from:
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