Criticism of Advertising | Evaluation | Is advertising an Economic Waste?

Criticisms of Advertising

The following are some of the criticisms of advertising.

Criticisms of Advertising

Criticisms of Advertising

1. Advertising is a waste

A number of advertisements escape the attention of the consumers. Some advertisements are even ignored by the public. Further, competitive advertisements are not productive, i.e., they do not create any additional demand.

Advertisements merely shift the demand from one variety of products to another. Such competitive advertisements are sheer waste from the national point of view, though they may be advantageous from the point of view of the individual advertisers.

2. Many advertisements are deceptive and misleading

Many advertisements contain only tall claims. The merits claimed in advertisements are not found in practice.

3. Advertisements plays on human weaknesses, feelings and sentiments, etc

Advertisements induce the people to buy goods which may be unnecessary and which are even beyond their means. It only means that advertising encourages extravagance.

4. Advertising does not help in lowering price

On the contrary, the prices of products may increase because of the addition of advertising expenses incurred by the producers.

5. Advertising has become vulgar and indecent

By using the pictures of pretty girls for razor blades, beedies, cigarettes, etc., and by flashing pictures in an indecent manner, advertising has become vulgar.

6. Advertising leads to monopolies or semi-monopolies

Generally, only those advertisers who can afford to spend large sums on advertisements remain in the field. This results in establishing monopolies or semi-monopolies. Such monopolists may be tempted to exploit the consumers through unjustified increase in price. Further, creation of monopolies lead to concentration of wealth and economic power in the hands of a few, which is an unhealthy trend.

7. It results in wastage of national resources

By causing frequent changes in fashion, style, etc., and by introducing new products constantly, advertising leads to the replacement of the products much before they become obsolete (i.e., before they become useless) and thereby results in wasting national resources.

For instance, when a new model car is introduced and popularized through advertisement, people discard the old models and go in for new models before the expiry of the normal life of the the old model cars. This results in the wastage of national resources.

8. It induces people to use articles, such as tobacco, liquor, cigarettes, etc., which are harmful to health.

9. It creates a strong desire in the minds of the people for products which they cannot afford to buy. As a result, they get discontented and frustrated. The feeling of discontentment and frustration among the members of the public is not a healthy sign for the society.

10. It lays emphasis on ‘brands’ and makes the consumers slaves to a particular brand.

Critical Evaluation of the Criticisms of Advertising

We shall evaluate the above criticisms as follows.

Critical Evaluation of the Criticisms of Advertising

Critical Evaluation of the Criticisms of Advertising

1. Is advertisement a Waste?

It is true that several criticisms have been leveled against advertising. But a critical evaluation or analysis of the various criticisms will prove that most of the criticisms are not quite convincing. For instance, the criticism that advertising is unproductive (i.e., it does not create additional demand for products, but merely shifts the demand from one product to another) is not correct.

Of course, competitive advertisements just shift the demand from one product to another. But well conceived scientific advertisements do create additional demand for products. They also create demand for new products. They make luxuries of yesterday as necessities of today. They extend theĀ  frontiers of markets.

2. Are Advertisements Deceptive?

There is not much truth in the criticism that most of the advertisements are misleading and deceptive. It is true that a few unscrupulous advertisers may make tall claims and give misleading or fraudulent information. But a vast majority of advertisers stick to facts. They only give factual and correct information.

If at all advertisement results in exaggeration and misrepresentation of facts, it is not the fault of advertising. It is the fault of the advertiser and the way in which the advertisement is created. So, the concept of advertising is not to be blamed. Only the advertiser responsible for such fraudulent representation is to be blamed.

3. Do Advertisements force People to Buy?

The argument that advertisement forces people to buy things which they do not really need is not convincing. It is true that advertising creates a desire in the minds of the people to buy a product. But it does not exert any physical force on the customers or compel them to buy it. Again, cautious people are not carried away by mere advertisements.

4. Do Customers become Slaves to Brands?

The argument that advertisements lays emphasis on brands and makes the consumers slaves to particular brands is also not correct. This is because this is the age of the survival of the fittest. As such, every advertiser has to emphasis on the superiority of his products so that he can survive in the competitive world. Further, present day market offers a wide range of products to choose from. So, there is no question of any consumers becoming a slave to any particular brand.

5. Does it lead to wastage of National Resources?

The argument that advertising leads to wastage of national resources by causing the replacement of old model car is by new ones is not satisfactory. For example, when a new model car is introduced and popularized through advertising, no doubt, those who can afford to buy the new ones alone buy them. But they do not simply discard their old ones. They sell their old ones to those who cannot afford to purchase new ones. So, the national resources are not wasted as such.

6. Do Advertisements fail to Attract Attention?

The argument that many advertisements escape the notice of the customers and some advertisements are just ignored by the consumers is also not convincing. This is because, in these days, almost all the people are interested in reading/viewing advertisements. And there are people who go through the newspapers and magazines only for advertisements.

7. Does Advertising Increase the price of Products?

The argument that advertising increases the price of the products is unfounded. Scientific advertising definitely leads to mass selling. Mass selling results in lower selling overheads per unit. Further, mass selling leads to mass production, which in turn, results in lower cost per unit. The reduction in selling and production costs per unit will naturally result in reduction in selling price. So, advertising does not increase the prices of the products. On the contrary, it reduces the prices of the products.

8. Does Advertising Create Monopolies?

Another argument that advertising leads to monopolies or semi-monopolies is not correct. These are the days of cut throat competition, no body can create a monopoly through advertising. On the contrary, advertising helps the small producers to compete with big producers. So, advertising stimulates competition, but does not encourage monopoly.

Is Advertising an Economic Waste?

Is Advertising an economic waste

Is Advertising an economic waste

It is argued by some that advertising is an economic waste. For instance, Bernard Shaw had said,

“Advertisement is, from the point of view of the nation, a waste of wealth, a perversion of labour and a propaganda of pernicious humbug”.

But the truth is far from the above remark.

Advertising is not a waste

1. Advertisements create market for new products. Further, they maintain and even extend the markets for existing products.

2. Advertisement increases the sales volume. This is turn results in large-scale production. Large-scale production, in turn, contributes to increase in investment, employment, consumption, fall in price and rise in the standard of living of the people.

3. In the absence of any advertisement, the consumers would not be aware of the various products available in the market, their distinctive features and price. Further, as a result of advertisements, the consumers have the opportunity of comparing the relative merits of the all products available for sale.

4. Manufacturers, who claim superiority for their products through advertisements, generally, try to maintain a superior quality of their products. In other words, advertisements make advertisers very conscious to supply quality goods to the consumers.

5. Advertising ensures the supply of a variety of goods and thereby provides the consumers a choice to buy only the best products.

6. Advertisement provides employment to artists, copywriters and other professionals. Since it generates more sales, more employees can be appointed to take care of increased sales and consequent increase in production.

Where Advertising is Considered a Waste?

1. If the increase in sales brought about by advertising is not in proportion to the money spent on advertisement, then advertisement is regarded a waste.

2. Where advertisement does not increase the demand, but merely shifts the demand from one product to another, then also advertisement is regarded a waste. This is because, though the individual advertiser may gain from having advertised, the community as a whole does not derive any benefit from such an advertisement.

3. Advertisement which extends the market for luxuries at the expense of necessaries is a waste.

4. If the demand for a commodity is inelastic (i.e., if there is not much chance of increasing the demand for a commodity), advertisement will be regarded a waste.

5. Advertisement in respect of spurious (i.e., injurious or harmful) goods is a waste.

6. Advertisement that does not attract or draw the attention of the consumers is also a waste.

7. If advertising does not serve the purpose for which it is meant, it is regarded a waste.