By Gopabandhu Mohapatra
Advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience to purchase any particular products or services. We expect the message to be creative, clear, and concise. But a creative advertising idea can get your attention anywhere from streets, TV, magazines and Internet. Companies spend a tremendous amount of its expenses to create a few seconds of advertisement and an epidemic of advertising has infected our society. We know that advertising costs lots of money. Even the popular celebrities like cinema stars and cricketers come with petty ads like tooth brush, face cream, lays, kurkure, whose cost is small, but the amount spent on ads are quite high.
We need to ask one important question as to who pays for all this advertising. Ultimately, it is you and I as consumers.While it is logical to pay objective costs, such as package or production, it is not understandable why we pay the company to tell us about the product we buy.
While advertising can be seen as necessary for economic growth, it is not without social costs. While watching popular program on television, we come across commercial break. But the small commercial break continues for quite long time, with repeat advertisements and at last the countdown begins from 2 minutes. In the process, we watch 90 minutes movie, which is extended to two hours because of commercials.The existing regulation of 15 minutes per hour advertisement in commercial program of television between 6pm and midnight, and 16 minutes per hour at other times is not being followed by most of the channels. During the live broadcast of a sporting event, ads only should be in breaks and only full screen advertising allowed. No popups, part screen ads or drop down advertisements are expected. But in reality it does not happen.
Advertisements can be deceitful, especially for younger population who spends days in front of TV screen and watch aggressive and false advertising in between popular shows. Advertisers have found out that if they make a product and make customers believe that their product will make them happy, sales will skyrocket. Today, because of ads conditioning and trendsetting are made on what kind of clothes people wear, what shampoo and kitchen cleaner they use.
Children are susceptible to advertising. There is a link between food advertising and children’s preferences regarding what they will consume. Ads for many sugary cereals encourage children to ask their parents for those particular products.
In the morning newspaper, when we expect to read important headlines on front page, we find one or two full pages of commercial advertisement spreading in our newspapers. We have no alternative than to compromise. While travelling on the road, we get big billboards that we can not avoid our attention, which covers all necessities likecloth, jewel, automobiles like car & two wheeler, consumer durables, Cement, Iron, residential flats for sale, private educational institutions, coaching centers and many more things meant for common people.
Unsolicited commercial email and other forms of spam have also become so prevalent that they are a major nuisance to users of these services. While surfing the net, you get pop ups saying that your computer or mobile set is having virus and download a particular software to clean the virus. But in reality the message itself is a virus and attracts your attention. Sometime, malicious post ask you to view tempting video and once you click, it asks to upload flash player, through which the virus runs into your computer/ mobile set. For cleaning the virus, you have to spend good amount. Whenever you see an advertisement and have an impulse to act, you must look before you leap.
Advertisement about buying electronic products, the ads often emphasize the various functions of the products, which is not so in reality. The ads on mosquito repellants shows mosquitoes are eaten away by the machine or driven away from the room within 9 minutes, particular detergent powder cleans your shirt white, nodules are prepared within two minutes, joy stick gives the child happiness, a cough syrup drives away your ‘khasi’ when it arrives in your town, are some of the examples of exaggerated advertisement.
Tele marketing is another way of deceitful advertisement. The caller informs you that you have own a lottery and invites you to a particular Hotel to collect your prize. On reaching the invited place they tell you about the product they wish to sell over a cup of tea. They offer you with discount and trap the consumer in purchasing their product.
At present in India, there is no central statutory agency or uniform legislation regulating the advertising industry. The Indian advertising market as a whole is regulated and controlled by a non-statutory body, “the Advertising Standards Council of India” (ASCI).In the absence of uniform integrated legislation, it is necessary for advertisers to ensure that an advertisement is in compliance with all local and national advertisement laws.
Hence, it is imperative for the Government to protect the ordinary consumers from the brainwashing techniques of the corporate world. What is needed is government regulation that will limit the amount that any business or corporate can spend on advertising.
Mr. Gopabandhu Mohapatra is a retired banker and writes on a variety of subjects with a focus on Banking and Finance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are of the author and thus do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy or position of OdishaPlus.)