Television and radio advertising occupies the media-saturated world, constantly competing for people’s attention and seeking to influence them. While the primary goal of advertising is to encourage purchase, its influence extends well beyond that, profoundly changing social beliefs and behaviors. Moreover, it impacts people's shared perspectives, whether propagating stereotypes or establishing societal expectations.
This blog article will closely look at the social impacts of TV and radio advertising. It will also explore the ethical responsibilities that advertisers bear toward society.
The Psychology of Advertising
Advertising is a complex element extending beyond its primary function of generating business profits. It encompasses diverse social, psychological, and cultural factors that can benefit and harm our values. To fully grasp how TV and radio advertising affect society, one must comprehend two underlying psychological mechanisms: emotional appeals and cultural values.
Advertising is centered on the premise that individuals make decisions based on emotions instead of rational reasoning. Advertising agencies are aware of this and use it to their advantage by creating ads that elicit positive emotions, such as happiness, self-assurance, and ambition. These feelings are then associated with the advertised goods, producing want and need in the consumer's psyche.
Particularly, advertisers use radio and TV ads to connect with people’s emotions and desires, often through appealing music, memorable catchphrases, and compelling imagery. By evoking emotional responses towards their brand or product, they can sway the buyer’s behavior and decision-making, even unconsciously. For example, a skillfully crafted ad can increase brand loyalty and repeat purchases.
Aside from emotional impact, TV and radio advertising employ social norms and cultural values to influence consumer behavior. Advertisers strategically feature individuals or groups in their advertisements representing popular social conventions and cultural identities to attract a larger audience. They want to establish a sense of connection and relatability with their product or brand by exhibiting values with which their audience can identify.
For instance, an advertisement emphasizing family values may show a happy family spending time together and enjoying the advertised product. Doing so appeals to the norm of valuing togetherness and family time, encouraging consumers to link the product with positive family experiences. Additionally, ads portraying strong women can effectively resonate with audiences who appreciate gender equality and female empowerment.
The Societal Influence of TV and Radio Advertising
While advertising can positively influence emotions, there are negative implications to its emotional appeal. Advertisers can take advantage of people's fears, insecurities, and anxieties to manipulate them into purchasing a product or service. For instance, radio and TV ads promoting unrealistic beauty standards or making over-the-top product claims can create a sense of inadequacy or anxiety in consumers.
A study supporting this idea is "The Impact of Thin and Beauty Ideals in Television Advertising on Women's Body Dissatisfaction and Advertising Effectiveness" by Fardouly, Diedrichs, Vartanian, and Halliwell (2015). The study demonstrated that women experienced heightened levels of negative mood and body dissatisfaction when exposed to thin and beauty standards.
Using social norms and cultural values in ads can also perpetuate harmful stereotypes and negative attitudes. For example, portraying gender roles in a conventional or restrictive manner might encourage sexism leading to discrimination. This is supported by a 2020 study titled “Perpetuating Inequality: Representations of Gender in Television Advertisements Across Seven Countries and Three Continents."
Researchers observed that women were frequently depicted in stereotypical roles, such as homemakers or sex symbols. Meanwhile, men were shown in a broader range of powerful portrayals. As per the researchers, such representations of gender perpetuate the problem of inequality and strengthen negative stereotypes.
The Responsibilities of Advertisers
Advertising is an important aspect of the marketing industry, and advertisers must ensure that their contents observe responsible advertising. Here are four of the most crucial responsibilities they need to fulfill:
Truth in Advertising
Advertisers are responsible for ensuring the accuracy and truthfulness of their advertisements. This entails supporting any claims made in their ads with evidence and being able to substantiate such claims if required. Deceptive advertising can harm not only consumers but also the integrity and reputation of the industry.
Avoidance of Offensive Content
Advertising agencies should ensure that their content is culturally sensitive. This means steering clear of language or imagery that could be perceived as discriminatory, racist, sexist, profane, or vulgar. By doing so, advertisers can uphold their social responsibility and ensure that their ads do not alienate any particular group or community.
Respect for Privacy
A strong industry reputation requires an ethical approach to data collection. Therefore, advertisers must provide comprehensive information about their data privacy rules and opt-out options. This will ensure that consumers can make informed decisions about using their personal information.
Responsibility for Young Audiences
When advertising to minors, TV advertisers are obligated to use extra caution. This is because children are more vulnerable than adults and less capable of making informed decisions regarding the things being advertised to them. Hence, advertisers must refrain from using children's trusting nature, lack of experience, or sense of loyalty in their campaigns.
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Responsible advertising is one of the best approaches to acquiring loyal customers and maximizing advertising expenditures. At Airtime Media, we are committed to helping business owners achieve their goals and drive results through ethical and effective radio, TV, and digital advertising practices. Our expert team also specializes in innovative strategies that generate leads and increase ROI.
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