Egyptians used papyrus to make sales messages and wall posters. Commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found in the ruins of Pompeii and ancient Arabia. Lost and found advertising on papyrus was common in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Wall or rock painting for commercial advertising is another manifestation of an ancient advertising form, which is present to this day in many parts of Asia, Africa, and South America. The tradition of wall painting can be traced back to Indian rock art paintings that date back to 4000 BC. History tells us that Out-of-home advertising and billboards are the oldest forms of advertising.
As the towns and cities of the Middle Ages began to grow, and the general populace was unable to read, signs that today would say cobbler, miller, tailor or blacksmith would use an image associated with their trade such as a boot, a suit, a hat, a clock, a diamond, a horse shoe, a candle or even a bag of flour. Fruits and vegetables were sold in the city square from the backs of carts and wagons and their proprietors used street callers (town criers) to announce their whereabouts for the convenience of the customers.
As education became an apparent need and reading, as well as printing, developed advertising expanded to include handbills. In the 17th century advertisements started to appear in weekly newspapers in England. These early print advertisements were used mainly to promote books and newspapers, which became increasingly affordable with advances in the printing press; and medicines, which were increasingly sought after as disease ravaged Europe. However, false advertising and so-called “quack” advertisements became a problem, which ushered in the regulation of advertising content.
As the economy expanded during the 19th century, advertising grew alongside. In the United States, the success of this advertising format eventually led to the growth of mail-order advertising.
In June 1836, French newspaper La Presse was the first to include paid advertising in its pages, allowing it to lower its price, extend its readership and increase its profitability and the formula was soon copied by all titles. Around 1840, Volney Palmer established a predecessor to advertising agencies in Boston. Around the same time, in France, Charles-Louis Havas extended the services of his news agency, Havas to include advertisement brokerage, making it the first French group to organize. At first, agencies were brokers for advertisement space in newspapers. N. W. Ayer & Son was the first full-service agency to assume responsibility for advertising content. N.W. Ayer opened in 1869, and was located in Philadelphia.
An 1895 advertisement for a weight gain product.
At the turn of the century, there were few career choices for women in business; however, advertising was one of the few. Since women were responsible for most of the purchasing done in their household, advertisers and agencies recognized the value of women’s insight during the creative process. In fact, the first American advertising to use a sexual sell was created by a woman – for a soap product. Although tame by today’s standards, the advertisement featured a couple with the message “The skin you love to touch”.
In the early 1920s, the first radio stations were established by radio equipment manufacturers and retailers who offered programs in order to sell more radios to consumers. As time passed, many non-profit organizations followed suit in setting up their own radio stations, and included: schools, clubs and civic groups. When the practice of sponsoring programs was popularised, each individual radio program was usually sponsored by a single business in exchange for a brief mention of the business’ name at the beginning and end of the sponsored shows. However, radio station owners soon realised they could earn more money by selling sponsorship rights in small time allocations to multiple businesses throughout their radio station’s broadcasts, rather than selling the sponsorship rights to single businesses per show.
A print advertisement for the 1913 issue of the Encyclopædia Britannica
This practice was carried over to television in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A fierce battle was fought between those seeking to commercialise the radio and people who argued that the radio spectrum should be considered a part of the commons – to be used only non-commercially and for the public good. The United Kingdom pursued a public funding model for the BBC, originally a private company, the British Broadcasting Company, but incorporated as a public body by Royal Charter in 1927. In Canada, advocates like Graham Spry were likewise able to persuade the federal government to adopt a public funding model, creating the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. However, in the United States, the capitalist model prevailed with the passage of the Communications Act of 1934 which created the Federal Communications Commission. To placate the socialists, the U.S. Congress did require commercial broadcasters to operate in the “public interest, convenience, and necessity”. Public broadcasting now exists in the United States due to the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act which led to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.
In the early 1950s, the DuMont Television Network began the modern trend of selling advertisement time to multiple sponsors. Previously, DuMont had trouble finding sponsors for many of their programs and compensated by selling smaller blocks of advertising time to several businesses. This eventually became the standard for the commercial television industry in the United States. However, it was still a common practice to have single sponsor shows, such as The United States Steel Hour. In some instances the sponsors exercised great control over the content of the show – up to and including having one’s advertising agency actually writing the show. The single sponsor model is much less prevalent now, a notable exception being the Hallmark Hall of Fame.
The 1960s saw advertising transform into a modern approach in which creativity was allowed to shine, producing unexpected messages that made advertisements more tempting to consumers’ eyes. The Volkswagen ad campaign—featuring such headlines as “Think Small” and “Lemon” (which were used to describe the appearance of the car)—ushered in the era of modern advertising by promoting a “position” or “unique selling proposition” designed to associate each brand with a specific idea in the reader or viewer’s mind. This period of American advertising is called the Creative Revolution and its archetype was William Bernbach who helped create the revolutionary Volkswagen ads among others. Some of the most creative and long-standing American advertising dates to this period.
The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the introduction of cable television and particularly MTV. Pioneering the concept of the music video, MTV ushered in a new type of advertising: the consumer tunes in for the advertising message, rather than it being a by-product or afterthought. As cable and satellite television became increasingly prevalent, specialty channels emerged, including channels entirely devoted to advertising, such as QVC, Home Shopping Network, and ShopTV Canada.
Marketing through the Internet opened new frontiers for advertisers and contributed to the “dot-com” boom of the 1990s. Entire corporations operated solely on advertising revenue, offering everything from coupons to free Internet access. At the turn of the 21st century, a number of websites including the search engine Google, started a change in online advertising by emphasizing contextually relevant, unobtrusive ads intended to help, rather than inundate, users. This has led to a plethora of similar efforts and an increasing trend of interactive advertising.
The share of advertising spending relative to GDP has changed little across large changes in media. For example, in the U.S. in 1925, the main advertising media were newspapers, magazines, signs on streetcars, and outdoor posters. Advertising spending as a share of GDP was about 2.9 percent. By 1998, television and radio had become major advertising media. Nonetheless, advertising spending as a share of GDP was slightly lower—about 2.4 percent.
A recent advertising innovation is “guerrilla marketing”, which involve unusual approaches such as staged encounters in public places, giveaways of products such as cars that are covered with brand messages, and interactive advertising where the viewer can respond to become part of the advertising message.Guerrilla advertising is becoming increasing more popular with a lot of companies. This type of advertising is unpredictable and innovative, which causes consumers to buy the product or idea. This reflects an increasing trend of interactive and “embedded” ads, such as via product placement, having consumers vote through text messages, and various innovations utilizing social network services such as MySpace.
 Public service advertising
The same advertising techniques used to promote commercial goods and services can be used to inform, educate and motivate the public about non-commercial issues, such as HIV/AIDS, political ideology, energy conservation and deforestation.
Advertising, in its non-commercial guise, is a powerful educational tool capable of reaching and motivating large audiences. “Advertising justifies its existence when used in the public interest – it is much too powerful a tool to use solely for commercial purposes.” – Attributed to Howard Gossage by David Ogilvy.
Public service advertising, non-commercial advertising, public interest advertising, cause marketing, and social marketing are different terms for (or aspects of) the use of sophisticated advertising and marketing communications techniques (generally associated with commercial enterprise) on behalf of non-commercial, public interest issues and initiatives.
In the United States, the granting of television and radio licenses by the FCC is contingent upon the station broadcasting a certain amount of public service advertising. To meet these requirements, many broadcast stations in America air the bulk of their required public service announcements during the late night or early morning when the smallest percentage of viewers are watching, leaving more day and prime time commercial slots available for high-paying advertisers.
Public service advertising reached its height during World Wars I and II under the direction of several governments.
 Types of advertising
Paying people to hold signs is one of the oldest forms of advertising, as with this Human directional pictured above A bus with an advertisement for GAP in Singapore. Buses and other vehicles are popular mediums for advertisers. A DBAG Class 101 with UNICEF ads at Ingolstadt main railway station
Virtually any medium can be used for advertising. Commercial advertising media can include wall paintings, billboards, street furniture components, printed flyers and rack cards, radio, cinema and television adverts, web banners, mobile telephone screens, shopping carts, web popups, skywriting, bus stop benches, human billboards, magazines, newspapers, town criers, sides of buses, banners attached to or sides of airplanes (“logojets”), in-flight advertisements on seatback tray tables or overhead storage bins, taxicab doors, roof mounts and passenger screens, musical stage shows, subway platforms and trains, elastic bands on disposable diapers,doors of bathroom stalls,stickers on apples in supermarkets, shopping cart handles (grabertising), the opening section of streaming audio and video, posters, and the backs of event tickets and supermarket receipts. Any place an “identified” sponsor pays to deliver their message through a medium is advertising.
Main articles: Television advertisement and Music in advertising
The TV commercial is generally considered the most effective mass-market advertising format, as is reflected by the high prices TV networks charge for commercial airtime during popular TV events. The annual Super Bowl football game in the United States is known as the most prominent advertising event on television. The average cost of a single thirty-second TV spot during this game has reached US$3 million (as of 2009).
The majority of television commercials feature a song or jingle that listeners soon relate to the product.
Virtual advertisements may be inserted into regular television programming through computer graphics. It is typically inserted into otherwise blank backdrops or used to replace local billboards that are not relevant to the remote broadcast audience. More controversially, virtual billboards may be inserted into the background where none exist in real-life. Virtual product placement is also possible.
Main article: Infomercial
An infomercial is a long-format television commercial, typically five minutes or longer. The word “infomercial” is a portmanteau of the words “information” & “commercial”. The main objective in an infomercial is to create an impulse purchase, so that the consumer sees the presentation and then immediately buys the product through the advertised toll-free telephone number or website. Infomercials describe, display, and often demonstrate products and their features, and commonly have testimonials from consumers and industry professionals.
 Radio advertising
Radio advertising is a form of advertising via the medium of radio.
Radio advertisements are broadcasted as radio waves to the air from a transmitter to an antenna and a thus to a receiving device. Airtime is purchased from a station or network in exchange for airing the commercials. While radio has the obvious limitation of being restricted to sound, proponents of radio advertising often cite this as an advantage.
 Press advertising
Press advertising describes advertising in a printed medium such as a newspaper, magazine, or trade journal. This encompasses everything from media with a very broad readership base, such as a major national newspaper or magazine, to more narrowly targeted media such as local newspapers and trade journals on very specialized topics. A form of press advertising is classified advertising, which allows private individuals or companies to purchase a small, narrowly targeted ad for a low fee advertising a product or service.
 Online advertising
Online advertising is a form of promotion that uses the Internet and World Wide Web for the expressed purpose of delivering marketing messages to attract customers. Examples of online advertising include contextual ads that appear on search engine results pages, banner ads, in text ads, Rich Media Ads, Social network advertising, online classified advertising, advertising networks and e-mail marketing, including e-mail spam.
 Billboard advertising
Billboards are large structures located in public places which display advertisements to passing pedestrians and motorists. Most often, they are located on main roads with a large amount of passing motor and pedestrian traffic; however, they can be placed in any location with large amounts of viewers, such as on mass transit vehicles and in stations, in shopping malls or office buildings, and in stadiums.
 Mobile billboard advertising
The RedEye newspaper advertised to its target market at North Avenue Beach with a sailboat billboard on Lake Michigan.
Mobile billboards are generally vehicle mounted billboards or digital screens. These can be on dedicated vehicles built solely for carrying advertisements along routes preselected by clients, they can also be specially-equipped cargo trucks or, in some cases, large banners strewn from planes. The billboards are often lighted; some being backlit, and others employing spotlights. Some billboard displays are static, while others change; for example, continuously or periodically rotating among a set of advertisements.
Mobile displays are used for various situations in metropolitan areas throughout the world, including:
- Target advertising
- One-day, and long-term campaigns
- Sporting events
- Store openings and similar promotional events
- Big advertisements from smaller companies
 In-store advertising
In-store advertising is any advertisement placed in a retail store. It includes placement of a product in visible locations in a store, such as at eye level, at the ends of aisles and near checkout counters, eye-catching displays promoting a specific product, and advertisements in such places as shopping carts and in-store video displays.
 Covert advertising
Main article: Product placement
Covert advertising, also known as guerrilla advertising, is when a product or brand is embedded in entertainment and media. For example, in a film, the main character can use an item or other of a definite brand, as in the movie Minority Report, where Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton owns a phone with the Nokia logo clearly written in the top corner, or his watch engraved with the Bulgari logo. Another example of advertising in film is in I, Robot, where main character played by Will Smith mentions his Converse shoes several times, calling them “classics,” because the film is set far in the future. I, Robot and Spaceballs also showcase futuristic cars with the Audi and Mercedes-Benz logos clearly displayed on the front of the vehicles. Cadillac chose to advertise in the movie The Matrix Reloaded, which as a result contained many scenes in which Cadillac cars were used. Similarly, product placement for Omega Watches, Ford, VAIO, BMW and Aston Martin cars are featured in recent James Bond films, most notably Casino Royale. In “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”, the main transport vehicle shows a large Dodge logo on the front. Blade Runner includes some of the most obvious product placement; the whole film stops to show a Coca-Cola billboard.
Main article: Celebrity branding
This type of advertising focuses upon using celebrity power, fame, money, popularity to gain recognition for their products and promote specific stores or products. Advertisers often advertise their products, for example, when celebrities share their favorite products or wear clothes by specific brands or designers. Celebrities are often involved in advertising campaigns such as television or print adverts to advertise specific or general products.
The use of celebrities to endorse a brand can have its downsides, however. One mistake by a celebrity can be detrimental to the public relations of a brand. For example, following his performance of eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, swimmer Michael Phelps’ contract with Kellogg’s was terminated, as Kellogg’s did not want to associate with him after he was photographed smoking marijuana.
 Media and advertising approaches
Increasingly, other media are overtaking many of the “traditional” media such as television, radio and newspaper because of a shift toward consumer’s usage of the Internet for news and music as well as devices like digital video recorders (DVR’s) such as TiVo.
Advertising on the World Wide Web is a recent phenomenon. Prices of Web-based advertising space are dependent on the “relevance” of the surrounding web content and the traffic that the website receives.
Digital signage is poised to become a major mass media because of its ability to reach larger audiences for less money. Digital signage also offer the unique ability to see the target audience where they are reached by the medium. Technology advances has also made it possible to control the message on digital signage with much precision, enabling the messages to be relevant to the target audience at any given time and location which in turn, gets more response from the advertising. Digital signage is being successfully employed in supermarkets. Another successful use of digital signage is in hospitality locations such as restaurants. and malls.
E-mail advertising is another recent phenomenon. Unsolicited bulk E-mail advertising is known as “e-mail spam”. Spam has been a problem for email users for many years.
Some companies have proposed placing messages or corporate logos on the side of booster rockets and the International Space Station. Controversy exists on the effectiveness of subliminal advertising (see mind control), and the pervasiveness of mass messages (see propaganda).
Unpaid advertising (also called “publicity advertising”), can provide good exposure at minimal cost. Personal recommendations (“bring a friend”, “sell it”), spreading buzz, or achieving the feat of equating a brand with a common noun (in the United States, “Xerox” = “photocopier”, “Kleenex” = tissue, “Vaseline” = petroleum jelly, “Hoover” = vacuum cleaner, “Nintendo” (often used by those exposed to many video games) = video games, and “Band-Aid” = adhesive bandage) — these can be seen as the pinnacle of any advertising campaign. However, some companies oppose the use of their brand name to label an object. Equating a brand with a common noun also risks turning that brand into a genericized trademark – turning it into a generic term which means that its legal protection as a trademark is lost.
As the mobile phone became a new mass media in 1998 when the first paid downloadable content appeared on mobile phones in Finland, it was only a matter of time until mobile advertising followed, also first launched in Finland in 2000. By 2007 the value of mobile advertising had reached $2.2 billion and providers such as Admob delivered billions of mobile ads.
More advanced mobile ads include banner ads, coupons, Multimedia Messaging Service picture and video messages, advergames and various engagement marketing campaigns. A particular feature driving mobile ads is the 2D Barcode, which replaces the need to do any typing of web addresses, and uses the camera feature of modern phones to gain immediate access to web content. 83 percent of Japanese mobile phone users already are active users of 2D barcodes.
A new form of advertising that is growing rapidly is social network advertising. It is online advertising with a focus on social networking sites. This is a relatively immature market, but it has shown a lot of promise as advertisers are able to take advantage of the demographic information the user has provided to the social networking site. Friendertising is a more precise advertising term in which people are able to direct advertisements toward others directly using social network service.
From time to time, The CW Television Network airs short programming breaks called “Content Wraps,” to advertise one company’s product during an entire commercial break. The CW pioneered “content wraps” and some products featured were Herbal Essences, Crest, Guitar Hero II, CoverGirl, and recently Toyota.
Recently, there appeared a new promotion concept, “ARvertising”, advertising on Augmented Reality technology.
 Criticism of advertising
While advertising can be seen as necessary for economic growth, it is not without social costs. Unsolicited Commercial Email and other forms of spam have become so prevalent as to have become a major nuisance to users of these services, as well as being a financial burden on internet service providers. Advertising is increasingly invading public spaces, such as schools, which some critics argue is a form of child exploitation. In addition, advertising frequently uses psychological pressure (for example, appealing to feelings of inadequacy) on the intended consumer, which may be harmful.
 Hyper-commercialism and the commercial tidal wave
Criticism of advertising is closely linked with criticism of media and often interchangeable. They can refer to its audio-visual aspects (e. g. cluttering of public spaces and airwaves), environmental aspects (e. g. pollution, oversize packaging, increasing consumption), political aspects (e. g. media dependency, free speech, censorship), financial aspects (costs), ethical/moral/social aspects (e. g. sub-conscious influencing, invasion of privacy, increasing consumption and waste, target groups, certain products, honesty) and, of course, a mix thereof. Some aspects can be subdivided further and some can cover more than one category.
As advertising has become increasingly prevalent in modern Western societies, it is also increasingly being criticized. A person can hardly move in the public sphere or use a medium without being subject to advertising. Advertising occupies public space and more and more invades the private sphere of people, many of which consider it a nuisance. “It is becoming harder to escape from advertising and the media. … Public space is increasingly turning into a gigantic billboard for products of all kind. The aesthetical and political consequences cannot yet be foreseen.” Hanno Rauterberg in the German newspaper ‘Die Zeit’ calls advertising a new kind of dictatorship that cannot be escaped.
Ad creep: “There are ads in schools, airport lounges, doctors offices, movie theaters, hospitals, gas stations, elevators, convenience stores, on the Internet, on fruit, on ATMs, on garbage cans and countless other places. There are ads on beach sand and restroom walls.” “One of the ironies of advertising in our times is that as commercialism increases, it makes it that much more difficult for any particular advertiser to succeed, hence pushing the advertiser to even greater efforts.” Within a decade advertising in radios climbed to nearly 18 or 19 minutes per hour; on prime-time television the standard until 1982 was no more than 9.5 minutes of advertising per hour, today it’s between 14 and 17 minutes. With the introduction of the shorter 15-second-spot the total amount of ads increased even more dramatically. Ads are not only placed in breaks but e. g. also into baseball telecasts during the game itself. They flood the internet, a market growing in leaps and bounds.
Other growing markets are ‘’product placements” in entertainment programming and in movies where it has become standard practice and ‘’virtual advertising” where products get placed retroactively into rerun shows. Product billboards are virtually inserted into Major League Baseball broadcasts and in the same manner, virtual street banners or logos are projected on an entry canopy or sidewalks, for example during the arrival of celebrities at the 2001 Grammy Awards. Advertising precedes the showing of films at cinemas including lavish ‘film shorts’ produced by companies such as Microsoft or DaimlerChrysler. “The largest advertising agencies have begun working aggressively to co-produce programming in conjunction with the largest media firms” creating Infomercials resembling entertainment programming.
Opponents equate the growing amount of advertising with a “tidal wave” and restrictions with “damming” the flood. Kalle Lasn, one of the most outspoken critics of advertising on the international stage, considers advertising “the most prevalent and toxic of the mental pollutants. From the moment your radio alarm sounds in the morning to the wee hours of late-night TV microjolts of commercial pollution flood into your brain at the rate of around 3,000 marketing messages per day. Every day an estimated twelve billion display ads, 3 million radio commercials and more than 200,000 television commercials are dumped into North America’s collective unconscious”. In the course of his life the average American watches three years of advertising on television.
More recent developments are video games incorporating products into their content, special commercial patient channels in hospitals and public figures sporting temporary tattoos. A method unrecognisable as advertising is so-called ‘’guerrilla marketing” which is spreading ‘buzz’ about a new product in target audiences. Cash-strapped U.S. cities do not shrink back from offering police cars for advertising. A trend, especially in Germany, is companies buying the names of sports stadiums. The Hamburg soccer Volkspark stadium first became the AOL Arena and then the HSH Nordbank Arena. The Stuttgart Neckarstadion became the Mercedes-Benz Arena, the Dortmund Westfalenstadion now is the Signal Iduna Park. The former SkyDome in Toronto was renamed Rogers Centre. Other recent developments are, for example, that whole subway stations in Berlin are redesigned into product halls and exclusively leased to a company. Düsseldorf even has ‘multi-sensorial’ adventure transit stops equipped with loudspeakers and systems that spread the smell of a detergent. Swatch used beamers to project messages on the Berlin TV-tower and Victory column, which was fined because it was done without a permit. The illegality was part of the scheme and added promotion.
It’s standard business management knowledge that advertising is a pillar, if not “the” pillar of the growth-orientated free capitalist economy. “Advertising is part of the bone marrow of corporate capitalism.” “Contemporary capitalism could not function and global production networks could not exist as they do without advertising.”
For communication scientist and media economist Manfred Knoche at the University of Salzburg, Austria, advertising isn’t just simply a ‘necessary evil’ but a ‘necessary elixir of life’ for the media business, the economy and capitalism as a whole. Advertising and mass media economic interests create ideology. Knoche describes advertising for products and brands as ‘the producer’s weapons in the competition for customers’ and trade advertising, e. g. by the automotive industry, as a means to collectively represent their interests against other groups, such as the train companies. In his view editorial articles and programmes in the media, promoting consumption in general, provide a ‘cost free’ service to producers and sponsoring for a ‘much used means of payment’ in advertising. Christopher Lasch argues that advertising leads to an overall increase in consumption in society; “Advertising serves not so much to advertise products as to promote consumption as a way of life.”
 Advertising and constitutional rights
Advertising is equated with constitutionally guaranteed freedom of opinion and speech. Therefore criticizing advertising or any attempt to restrict or ban advertising is almost always considered to be an attack on fundamental rights (First Amendment in the USA) and meets the combined and concentrated resistance of the business and especially the advertising community. “Currently or in the near future, any number of cases are and will be working their way through the court system that would seek to prohibit any government regulation of … commercial speech (e. g. advertising or food labelling) on the grounds that such regulation would violate citizens’ and corporations’ First Amendment rights to free speech or free press.” An example for this debate is advertising for tobacco or alcohol but also advertising by mail or fliers (clogged mail boxes), advertising on the phone, in the internet and advertising for children. Various legal restrictions concerning spamming, advertising on mobile phones, addressing children, tobacco, alcohol have been introduced by the US, the EU and various other countries. Not only the business community resists restrictions of advertising. Advertising as a means of free expression has firmly established itself in western society. McChesney argues, that the government deserves constant vigilance when it comes to such regulations, but that it is certainly not “the only antidemocratic force in our society. …corporations and the wealthy enjoy a power every bit as immense as that enjoyed by the lords and royalty of feudal times” and “markets are not value-free or neutral; they not only tend to work to the advantage of those with the most money, but they also by their very nature emphasize profit over all else….Hence, today the debate is over whether advertising or food labelling, or campaign contributions are speech…if the rights to be protected by the First Amendment can only be effectively employed by a fraction of the citizenry, and their exercise of these rights gives them undue political power and undermines the ability of the balance of the citizenry to exercise the same rights and/or constitutional rights, then it is not necessarily legitimately protected by the First Amendment.” In addition, “those with the capacity to engage in free press are in a position to determine who can speak to the great mass of citizens and who cannot”. Critics in turn argue, that advertising invades privacy which is a constitutional right. For, on the one hand, advertising physically invades privacy, on the other, it increasingly uses relevant, information-based communication with private data assembled without the knowledge or consent of consumers or target groups.
For Georg Franck at Vienna University of Technology advertising is part of what he calls “mental capitalism”, taking up a term (mental) which has been used by groups concerned with the mental environment, such as Adbusters. Franck blends the “Economy of Attention” with Christopher Lasch’s culture of narcissm into the mental capitalism: In his essay „Advertising at the Edge of the Apocalypse”, Sut Jhally writes: “20. century advertising is the most powerful and sustained system of propaganda in human history and its cumulative cultural effects, unless quickly checked, will be responsible for destroying the world as we know it.
 The price of attention and hidden costs
Advertising has developed into a billion-dollar business on which many depend. In 2006 391 billion US dollars were spent worldwide for advertising. In Germany, for example, the advertising industry contributes 1.5% of the gross national income; the figures for other developed countries are similar. Thus, advertising and growth are directly and causally linked. As far as a growth based economy can be blamed for the harmful human lifestyle (affluent society) advertising has to be considered in this aspect concerning its negative impact, because its main purpose is to raise consumption. “The industry is accused of being one of the engines powering a convoluted economic mass production system which promotes consumption.”
Attention and attentiveness have become a new commodity for which a market developed. “The amount of attention that is absorbed by the media and redistributed in the competition for quotas and reach is not identical with the amount of attention, that is available in society. The total amount circulating in society is made up of the attention exchanged among the people themselves and the attention given to media information. Only the latter is homogenised by quantitative measuring and only the latter takes on the character of an anonymous currency.” According to Franck, any surface of presentation that can guarantee a certain degree of attentiveness works as magnet for attention, e. g. media which are actually meant for information and entertainment, culture and the arts, public space etc. It is this attraction which is sold to the advertising business. The German Advertising Association stated that in 2007 30.78 billion Euros were spent on advertising in Germany, 26% in newspapers, 21% on television, 15% by mail and 15% in magazines. In 2002 there were 360.000 people employed in the advertising business. The internet revenues for advertising doubled to almost 1 billion Euros from 2006 to 2007, giving it the highest growth rates.
Spiegel-Online reported that in the USA in 2008 for the first time more money was spent for advertising on internet (105.3 billion US dollars) than on television (98.5 billion US dollars). The largest amount in 2008 was still spent in the print media (147 billion US dollars). For that same year, Welt-Online reported that the US pharmaceutical industry spent almost double the amount on advertising (57.7 billion dollars) than it did on research (31.5 billion dollars). But Marc-André Gagnon und Joel Lexchin of York University, Toronto, estimate that the actual expenses for advertising are higher yet, because not all entries are recorded by the research institutions. Not included are indirect advertising campaigns such as sales, rebates and price reductions. Few consumers are aware of the fact that they are the ones paying for every cent spent for public relations, advertisements, rebates, packaging etc. since they ordinarily get included in the price calculation.
 Influencing and conditioning
Advertising for McDonald’s on the Via di Propaganda, Rome, Italy
The most important element of advertising is not information but suggestion more or less making use of associations, emotions (appeal to emotion) and drives dormant in the sub-conscience of people, such as sex drive, herd instinct, of desires, such as happiness, health, fitness, appearance, self-esteem, reputation, belonging, social status, identity, adventure, distraction, reward, of fears (appeal to fear), such as illness, weaknesses, loneliness, need, uncertainty, security or of prejudices, learned opinions and comforts. “All human needs, relationships, and fears – the deepest recesses of the human psyche – become mere means for the expansion of the commodity universe under the force of modern marketing. With the rise to prominence of modern marketing, commercialism – the translation of human relations into commodity relations – although a phenomenon intrinsic to capitalism, has expanded exponentially.” ‘Cause-related marketing’ in which advertisers link their product to some worthy social cause has boomed over the past decade.
Advertising exploits the model role of celebrities or popular figures and makes deliberate use of humour as well as of associations with colour, tunes, certain names and terms. Altogether, these are factors of how one perceives himself and one’s self-worth. In his description of ‘mental capitalism’ Franck says, “the promise of consumption making someone irresistible is the ideal way of objects and symbols into a person’s subjective experience. Evidently, in a society in which revenue of attention moves to the fore, consumption is drawn by one’s self-esteem. As a result, consumption becomes ‘work’ on a person’s attraction. From the subjective point of view, this ‘work’ opens fields of unexpected dimensions for advertising. Advertising takes on the role of a life councillor in matters of attraction. (…) The cult around one’s own attraction is what Christopher Lasch described as ‘Culture of Narcissism’.”
For advertising critics another serious problem is that “the long standing notion of separation between advertising and editorial/creative sides of media is rapidly crumbling” and advertising is increasingly hard to tell apart from news, information or entertainment. The boundaries between advertising and programming are becoming blurred. According to the media firms all this commercial involvement has no influence over actual media content, but, as McChesney puts it, “this claim fails to pass even the most basic giggle test, it is so preposterous.”
Advertising draws “heavily on psychological theories about how to create subjects, enabling advertising and marketing to take on a ‘more clearly psychological tinge’ (Miller and Rose, 1997, cited in Thrift, 1999, p. 67). Increasingly, the emphasis in advertising has switched from providing ‘factual’ information to the symbolic connotations of commodities, since the crucial cultural premise of advertising is that the material object being sold is never in itself enough. Even those commodities providing for the most mundane necessities of daily life must be imbued with symbolic qualities and culturally endowed meanings via the ‘magic system (Williams, 1980) of advertising. In this way and by altering the context in which advertisements appear, things ‘can be made to mean “just about anything”‘ (McFall, 2002, p. 162) and the ‘same’ things can be endowed with different intended meanings for different individuals and groups of people, thereby offering mass produced visions of individualism.”
Before advertising is done, market research institutions need to know and describe the target group to exactly plan and implement the advertising campaign and to achieve the best possible results. A whole array of sciences directly deal with advertising and marketing or is used to improve its effects. Focus groups, psychologists and cultural anthropologists are ‘”de rigueur”’ in marketing research”. Vast amounts of data on persons and their shopping habits are collected, accumulated, aggregated and analysed with the aid of credit cards, bonus cards, raffles and internet surveying. With increasing accuracy this supplies a picture of behaviour, wishes and weaknesses of certain sections of a population with which advertisement can be employed more selectively and effectively. The efficiency of advertising is improved through advertising research. Universities, of course supported by business and in co-operation with other disciplines (s. above), mainly Psychiatry, Anthropology, Neurology and behavioural sciences, are constantly in search for ever more refined, sophisticated, subtle and crafty methods to make advertising more effective. “Neuromarketing is a controversial new field of marketing which uses medical technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) — not to heal, but to sell products. Advertising and marketing firms have long used the insights and research methods of psychology in order to sell products, of course. But today these practices are reaching epidemic levels, and with a complicity on the part of the psychological profession that exceeds that of the past. The result is an enormous advertising and marketing onslaught that comprises, arguably, the largest single psychological project ever undertaken. Yet, this great undertaking remains largely ignored by the American Psychological Association.” Robert McChesney calls it “the greatest concerted attempt at psychological manipulation in all of human history.”
 Dependency of the media and corporate censorship
Almost all mass media are advertising media and many of them are exclusively advertising media and, with the exception of public service broadcasting are privately owned. Their income is predominantly generated through advertising; in the case of newspapers and magazines from 50 to 80%. Public service broadcasting in some countries can also heavily depend on advertising as a source of income (up to 40%). In the view of critics no media that spreads advertisements can be independent and the higher the proportion of advertising, the higher the dependency. This dependency has “distinct implications for the nature of media content…. In the business press, the media are often referred to in exactly the way they present themselves in their candid moments: as a branch of the advertising industry.”
In addition, the private media are increasingly subject to mergers and concentration with property situations often becoming entangled and opaque. This development, which Henry A. Giroux calls an “ongoing threat to democratic culture”, by itself should suffice to sound all alarms in a democracy. Five or six advertising agencies dominate this 400 billion U.S. dollar global industry.
“Journalists have long faced pressure to shape stories to suit advertisers and owners …. the vast majority of TV station executives found their news departments ‘cooperative’ in shaping the news to assist in ‘non-traditional revenue development.” Negative and undesired reporting can be prevented or influenced when advertisers threaten to cancel orders or simply when there is a danger of such a cancellation. Media dependency and such a threat becomes very real when there is only one dominant or very few large advertisers. The influence of advertisers is not only in regard to news or information on their own products or services but expands to articles or shows not directly linked to them. In order to secure their advertising revenues the media has to create the best possible ‘advertising environment’. Another problem considered censorship by critics is the refusal of media to accept advertisements that are not in their interest. A striking example of this is the refusal of TV stations to broadcast ads by Adbusters. Groups try to place advertisements and are refused by networks.
It is principally the viewing rates which decide upon the programme in the private radio and television business. “Their business is to absorb as much attention as possible. The viewing rate measures the attention the media trades for the information offered. The service of this attraction is sold to the advertising business” and the viewing rates determine the price that can be demanded for advertising.
“Advertising companies determining the contents of shows has been part of daily life in the USA since 1933. Procter & Gamble (P&G) …. offered a radio station a history-making trade (today know as “bartering”): the company would produce an own show for “free” and save the radio station the high expenses for producing contents. Therefore the company would want its commercials spread and, of course, its products placed in the show. Thus, the series ‘Ma Perkins’ was created, which P&G skilfully used to promote Oxydol, the leading detergent brand in those years and the Soap opera was born …”
While critics basically worry about the subtle influence of the economy on the media, there are also examples of blunt exertion of influence. The US company Chrysler, before it merged with Daimler Benz had its agency, PentaCom, send out a letter to numerous magazines, demanding them to send, an overview of all the topics before the next issue is published to “avoid potential conflict”. Chrysler most of all wanted to know, if there would be articles with “sexual, political or social” content or which could be seen as “provocative or offensive”. PentaCom executive David Martin said: “Our reasoning is, that anyone looking at a 22.000 $ product would want it surrounded by positive things. There is nothing positive about an article on child pornography.” In another example, the „USA Network held top-level ‚off-the-record’ meetings with advertisers in 2000 to let them tell the network what type of programming content they wanted in order for USA to get their advertising.” Television shows are created to accommodate the needs for advertising, e. g. splitting them up in suitable sections. Their dramaturgy is typically designed to end in suspense or leave an unanswered question in order to keep the viewer attached.
The movie system, at one time outside the direct influence of the broader marketing system, is now fully integrated into it through the strategies of licensing, tie-ins and product placements. The prime function of many Hollywood films today is to aid in the selling of the immense collection of commodities. The press called the 2002 Bond film ‘Die Another Day’ featuring 24 major promotional partners an ‘ad-venture’ and noted that James Bond “now has been ‘licensed to sell’” As it has become standard practise to place products in motion pictures, it “has self-evident implications for what types of films will attract product placements and what types of films will therefore be more likely to get made”.
Advertising and information are increasingly hard to distinguish from each other. “The borders between advertising and media …. become more and more blurred…. What August Fischer, chairman of the board of Axel Springer publishing company considers to be a ‘proven partnership between the media and advertising business’ critics regard as nothing but the infiltration of journalistic duties and freedoms”. According to RTL-executive Helmut Thoma “private stations shall not and cannot serve any mission but only the goal of the company which is the ‘acceptance by the advertising business and the viewer’. The setting of priorities in this order actually says everything about the ‘design of the programmes’ by private television.” Patrick Le Lay, former managing director of TF1, a private French television channel with a market share of 25 to 35%, said: “There are many ways to talk about television. But from the business point of view, let’s be realistic: basically, the job of TF1 is, e. g. to help Coca Cola sell its product. (…) For an advertising message to be perceived the brain of the viewer must be at our disposal. The job of our programmes is to make it available, that is to say, to distract it, to relax it and get it ready between two messages. It is disposable human brain time that we sell to Coca Cola.”
Because of these dependencies a widespread and fundamental public debate about advertising and its influence on information and freedom of speech is difficult to obtain, at least through the usual media channels; otherwise these would saw off the branch they are sitting on. “The notion that the commercial basis of media, journalism, and communication could have troubling implications for democracy is excluded from the range of legitimate debate” just as “capitalism is off-limits as a topic of legitimate debate in U.S. political culture”.
An early critic of the structural basis of U.S. journalism was Upton Sinclair with his novel The Brass Check in which he stresses the influence of owners, advertisers, public relations, and economic interests on the media. In his book “Our Master’s Voice – Advertising” the social ecologist James Rorty (1890–1973) wrote: “The gargoyle’s mouth is a loudspeaker, powered by the vested interest of a two-billion dollar industry, and back of that the vested interests of business as a whole, of industry, of finance. It is never silent, it drowns out all other voices, and it suffers no rebuke, for it is not the voice of America? That is its claim and to some extent it is a just claim…”
It has taught us how to live, what to be afraid of, what to be proud of, how to be beautiful, how to be loved, how to be envied, how to be successful.. Is it any wonder that the American population tends increasingly to speak, think, feel in terms of this jabberwocky? That the stimuli of art, science, religion are progressively expelled to the periphery of American life to become marginal values, cultivated by marginal people on marginal time?”
 The commercialisation of culture and sports
Performances, exhibitions, shows, concerts, conventions and most other events can hardly take place without sponsoring. The increasing lack arts and culture they buy the service of attraction. Artists are graded and paid according to their art’s value for commercial purposes. Corporations promote renown artists, therefore getting exclusive rights in global advertising campaigns. Broadway shows, like ‘La Bohème’ featured commercial props in its set.
Advertising itself is extensively considered to be a contribution to culture. Advertising is integrated into fashion. On many pieces of clothing the company logo is the only design or is an important part of it. There is only little room left outside the consumption economy, in which culture and art can develop independently and where alternative values can be expressed. A last important sphere, the universities, is under strong pressure to open up for business and its interests.
Inflatable billboard in front of a sports stadium
Competitive sports have become unthinkable without sponsoring and there is a mutual dependency. High income with advertising is only possible with a comparable number of spectators or viewers. On the other hand, the poor performance of a team or a sportsman results in less advertising revenues. Jürgen Hüther and Hans-Jörg Stiehler talk about a ‘Sports/Media Complex which is a complicated mix of media, agencies, managers, sports promoters, advertising etc. with partially common and partially diverging interests but in any case with common commercial interests. The media presumably is at centre stage because it can supply the other parties involved with a rare commodity, namely (potential) public attention. In sports “the media are able to generate enormous sales in both circulation and advertising.”
“Sports sponsorship is acknowledged by the tobacco industry to be valuable advertising. A Tobacco Industry journal in 1994 described the Formula One car as ‘The most powerful advertising space in the world’. …. In a cohort study carried out in 22 secondary schools in England in 1994 and 1995 boys whose favourite television sport was motor racing had a 12.8% risk of becoming regular smokers compared to 7.0% of boys who did not follow motor racing.”
Not the sale of tickets but transmission rights, sponsoring and merchandising in the meantime make up the largest part of sports association’s and sports club’s revenues with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) taking the lead. The influence of the media brought many changes in sports including the admittance of new ‘trend sports’ into the Olympic Games, the alteration of competition distances, changes of rules, animation of spectators, changes of sports facilities, the cult of sports heroes who quickly establish themselves in the advertising and entertaining business because of their media value and last but not least, the naming and renaming of sport stadiums after big companies. “In sports adjustment into the logic of the media can contribute to the erosion of values such as equal chances or fairness, to excessive demands on athletes through public pressure and multiple exploitation or to deceit (doping, manipulation of results …). It is in the very interest of the media and sports to counter this danger because media sports can only work as long as sport exists.
 Occupation and commercialisation of public space
Every visually perceptible place has potential for advertising. Especially urban areas with their structures but also landscapes in sight of through fares are more and more turning into media for advertisements. Signs, posters, billboards, flags have become decisive factors in the urban appearance and their numbers are still on the increase. “Outdoor advertising has become unavoidable. Traditional billboards and transit shelters have cleared the way for more pervasive methods such as wrapped vehicles, sides of buildings, electronic signs, kiosks, taxis, posters, sides of buses, and more. Digital technologies are used on buildings to sport ‘urban wall displays’. In urban areas commercial content is placed in our sight and into our consciousness every moment we are in public space. The German Newspaper ‘Zeit’ called it a new kind of ‘dictatorship that one cannot escape’. Over time, this domination of the surroundings has become the “natural” state. Through long-term commercial saturation, it has become implicitly understood by the public that advertising has the right to own, occupy and control every inch of available space. The steady normalization of invasive advertising dulls the public’s perception of their surroundings, re-enforcing a general attitude of powerlessness toward creativity and change, thus a cycle develops enabling advertisers to slowly and consistently increase the saturation of advertising with little or no public outcry.”
The massive optical orientation toward advertising changes the function of public spaces which are utilised by brands. Urban landmarks are turned into trademarks. The highest pressure is exerted on renown and highly frequented public spaces which are also important for the identity of a city (e. g. Piccadilly Circus, Times Square, Alexanderplatz). Urban spaces are public commodities and in this capacity they are subject to “aesthetical environment protection”, mainly through building regulations, heritage protection and landscape protection. “It is in this capacity that these spaces are now being privatised. They are peppered with billboards and signs, they are remodelled into media for advertising.”
 Socio-cultural aspects: sexism, discrimination and stereotyping
“Advertising has an “agenda setting function” which is the ability, with huge sums of money, to put consumption as the only item on the agenda. In the battle for a share of the public conscience this amounts to non-treatment (ignorance) of whatever is not commercial and whatever is not advertised for. Advertising should be reflection of society norms and give clear picture of target market. Spheres without commerce and advertising serving the muses and relaxation remain without respect.[neutrality is disputed] With increasing force advertising makes itself comfortable in the private sphere so that the voice of commerce becomes the dominant way of expression in society.” Advertising critics see advertising as the leading light in our culture. Sut Jhally and James Twitchell go beyond considering advertising as kind of religion and that advertising even replaces religion as a key institution.
“Corporate advertising (or commercial media) is the largest single psychological project ever undertaken by the human race. Yet for all of that, its impact on us remains unknown and largely ignored. When I think of the media’s influence over years, over decades, I think of those brainwashing experiments conducted by Dr. Ewen Cameron in a Montreal psychiatric hospital in the 1950s (see MKULTRA). The idea of the CIA-sponsored “depatterning” experiments was to outfit conscious, unconscious or semiconscious subjects with headphones, and flood their brains with thousands of repetitive “driving” messages that would alter their behaviour over time….Advertising aims to do the same thing.”
Advertising is especially aimed at young people and children and it increasingly reduces young people to consumers. For Sut Jhally it is not “surprising that something this central and with so much being expended on it should become an important presence in social life. Indeed, commercial interests intent on maximizing the consumption of the immense collection of commodities have colonized more and more of the spaces of our culture. For instance, almost the entire media system (television and print) has been developed as a delivery system for marketers its prime function is to produce audiences for sale to advertisers. Both the advertisements it carries, as well as the editorial matter that acts as a support for it, celebrate the consumer society. The movie system, at one time outside the direct influence of the broader marketing system, is now fully integrated into it through the strategies of licensing, tie-ins and product placements. The prime function of many Hollywood films today is to aid in the selling of the immense collection of commodities. As public funds are drained from the non-commercial cultural sector, art galleries, museums and symphonies bid for corporate sponsorship.” In the same way effected is the education system and advertising is increasingly penetrating schools and universities. Cities, such as New York, accept sponsors for public playgrounds. “Even the pope has been commercialized … The pope’s 4-day visit to Mexico in …1999 was sponsored by Frito-Lay and PepsiCo. The industry is accused of being one of the engines powering a convoluted economic mass production system which promotes consumption. As far as social effects are concerned it does not matter whether advertising fuels consumption but which values, patterns of behaviour and assignments of meaning it propagates. Advertising is accused of hijacking the language and means of pop culture, of protest movements and even of subversive criticism and does not shy away from scandalizing and breaking taboos (e. g. Benneton). This in turn incites counter action, what Kalle Lasn in 2001 called ‘’Jamming the Jam of the Jammers”. Anything goes. “It is a central social-scientific question what people can be made to do by suitable design of conditions and of great practical importance. For example, from a great number of experimental psychological experiments it can be assumed, that people can be made to do anything they are capable of, when the according social condition can be created.”
Advertising often uses stereotype gender specific roles of men and women reinforcing existing clichés and it has been criticized as “inadvertently or even intentionally promoting sexism, racism, and ageism… At very least, advertising often reinforces stereotypes by drawing on recognizable “types” in order to tell stories in a single image or 30 second time frame.” Activities are depicted as typical male or female (stereotyping). In addition people are reduced to their sexuality or equated with commodities and gender specific qualities are exaggerated. Sexualized female bodies, but increasingly also males, serve as eye-catchers. In advertising it is usually a woman being depicted as
- servants of men and children that react to the demands and complaints of their loved ones with a bad conscience and the promise for immediate improvement (wash, food)
- a sexual or emotional play toy for the self-affirmation of men
- a technically totally clueless being (almost always male) that can only manage a childproof operation
- female expert, but stereotype from the fields of fashion, cosmetics, food or at the most, medicine
- as ultra thin, slim, and very skinny.
- doing ground-work for others, e. g. serving coffee while a journalist interviews a politician
A large portion of advertising deals with promotion of products that pertain to the “ideal body image.” This is mainly targeted toward women, and, in the past, this type of advertising was aimed nearly exclusively at women. Women in advertisements are generally portrayed as good-looking women who are in good health. This, however, is not the case of the average woman. Consequently, they give a negative message of body image to the average woman. Because of the media, girls and women who are overweight, and otherwise “normal” feel almost obligated to take care of themselves and stay fit. They feel under high pressure to maintain an acceptable bodyweight and take care of their health. Consequences of this are low self-esteem,eating disorders, self mutilations, and beauty operations for those women that just cannot bring themselves eat right or get the motivation to go to the gym. The EU parliament passed a resolution in 2008 that advertising may not be discriminating and degrading. This shows that politicians are increasingly concerned about the negative impacts of advertising. However, the benefits of promoting overall health and fitness are often overlooked. Men are also negatively portrayed as incompetent and the butt of every joke in advertising.
 Children and adolescents as target groups
The children’s market, where resistance to advertising is weakest, is the “pioneer for ad creep”. “Kids are among the most sophisticated observers of ads. They can sing the jingles and identify the logos, and they often have strong feelings about products. What they generally don’t understand, however, are the issues that underlie how advertising works. Mass media are used not only to sell goods but also ideas: how we should behave, what rules are important, who we should respect and what we should value.” Youth is increasingly reduced to the role of a consumer. Not only the makers of toys, sweets, ice cream, breakfast food and sport articles prefer to aim their promotion at children and adolescents. For example, an ad for a breakfast cereal on a channel aimed at adults will have music that is a soft ballad, whereas on a channel aimed at children, the same ad will use a catchy rock jingle of the same so
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