Conflicts Between Words, Images and Reality in Contemporary Advertising

Conflicts Between Words, Images and Reality in Contemporary Advertising

Dušan Kučera
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5778-4.ch006
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The aim of the chapter is to reflect on the contemporary trends in marketing and advertising. The discussion starts with the changes in media communication and concentrates on the changing role of marketing, its forms and especially its language, as reflected in advertising. The contribution describes the developments in marketing and advertisement in the last years, the current trends and the limits of text analysis in digital marketing communication today. The main aim is to show how far the words and images change the original meaning of words. Local examples from the Czech Republic show the shift in marketing approaches and their consequences. Selected literature sources have been consulted to deal with the abundance of information, on the one hand, and the loss of significance in the media communication, on the other hand.
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Today, millions of people consume advertising spots on TV and radio, receive numerous flyers and leaflets, are invited to various promotional events and glance at billboards next to roads and in the cities. Over the last few years, advertising has become dominant in its digital form and is present on our PCs, iPads or iPhones. This chapter describes the form and content of advertising in our era, the shift in methods, emphases, word choice and the very philosophy of advertising. It is important to see where advertising communication (both commercial and non-commercial) is going and what consequences it brings about.

I was set off to write this chapter by my experience in the university, when a colleague of mine who was preparing a special seminar on project management handed me an invitation card which read: Join us, in just one day you will learn all you need to know about project management. I asked her if it was really necessary to exaggerate that much. All of us probably know that project management is a subject of a whole semester at least, and needs explanation, exercises, discussion, examples, comparisons and practical experience. However, the organizer of the event replied that exaggeration is normal in advertising: After all, everybody does that. We want to attract attention… In addition, everybody knows that this is just an invitation flyer meant to attract as many participants as possible…

Since then, I have started to observe invitations and advertisements systematically.

In general, the function of communication (including the advertising) is described in a number of books and specialised journals. However, my interest lies not in the area of advertising communication, but in the philosophical consequences of advertising. That is why I have started to catalogue my own observations and classify them according to the characteristics and examples that I gathered (almost 80 posters). One can trace up several categories of advertisements:

  • Factual invitations

  • Artistic invitations associated with a product of art, painting, sculpture, posters

  • Advertisements of products

  • Advertisements of services

  • Special advertisements of private colleges, universities

  • Medical and law services

  • Banking advertisements

  • Political advertisements

I started to think about the philosophy of advertising, which is common to all types of publicities. What kind of philosophy do the makers of present-day advertising profess? We need to understand the current trends, classify them and then compare. We are interested in the expectations of the advertisement makers, in what they think about their consumers. An advertisement has certain purposes:

  • It is supposed to inform about new products and services

  • It is supposed to attract customers’ attention

  • It is used to compare products and services, so that the customer can choose better

  • It is based on the veracity of its message

Based on these assumptions, the advertisement creates a communication bridge between the sender of the messages and the receiver. The assumption is that the promises made by the ad will be fulfilled.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Manipulation: A psychological exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation. It is done with the intention to seize power, control, benefits and/or privileges at the victim’s expense.

Communication: The activity of transferring information through writing or speaking.

Marketing: A planning, coordination, and control of all corporate activities for the potential markets.

Advertising: A special form of marketing communication looking for possible customers and intending to promote or sell a product, service or idea.

Philosophy of Marketing: A concept based on the offered products or services to customers.

Alienation: Originally, Karl Marx’s concept for the working class based on a pure social condition. Aliened workers invariably lose the ability to determine their life and destiny, while the goods and services they produce through their own labor, all belongs to the capitalists (the owners).

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