TV adverts are not real but hyper real i.e. more real than reality


In an ad in 1968, Campbell’s soup, in order to show the abundance of vegetables and noodles in the soup, the ad was shot after replacing clear marbles in the bottom of the bowls and cups, helping the vegetables to stay near the top and show up clearly in the ads. A public complaint that the vegetables in real bowl in Campbell’s soup did not float as they appeared to do in the advertisement let to the discontinuation of the practice and resulted in negative publicity of the company [O’Barr, 2004]. This clearly reveals the fact that what is shown in TV advertisements is not real. TV adverts are illusionary and scarcely genuine.

According to commission report of UNESCO: Totality of Communication in modern society, “three main issues which attracted particular attention were (a) The role that advertising played in creating harmful stereotyping of women and ethnic minorities (b) the possible contribution of advertising in promotion of harmful products (c) the relationship of advertising to materialism (sing and gross, 1981). It evident that TV adverts are not real but hype real because they make false promises, make people buy things they do not need, stereotypical, promote harmful products and materialism and fake standards of living.

Firstly, TV adverts make false promises. The best example is those of fairness creams and skin whitening products. A typical add shows that a girl changed her skin color from dark to white within a week after using a certain fairness cream. A young girl was worried because of her dark skin. She used a skin whitening cream, which changed her dark color to white. After that, she is shown as a bride, wearing too much gold jewelry on her wedding day. A girl uses a skin whitening product and suddenly everybody starts noticing her. Is it possible that one can change her/his skin tone using a skin fairness product? Certainly not! Sohail Kamran in his research quotes that “Head of Department of Dermatology in Delhi, Dr R.K. Phandi, stated that he has never come across a medical study that validates the claim of skin whitening by applying skin creams (Sinha, fair and growing, India today 4th Dec 2000).


Another aspect of these hyper-real TV adverts is that they make people buy things they do not need. TV advertisement present things in such a way that people consider those things as their basic necessity, despite of the fact that those things are mere luxuries. This issue is very much common in paid commercials. Do you really need 12 set of knives when you can do the same work using 3 to 4 knives. Or beauty products, a set within which you have so much cosmetics that you don’t even know how to use them. Moreover the style in which they offer their exciting products and announcing prices and saying that if people call right now they get whatever % discount.

In addition to this TV adverts are always stereotypical about women. Jean Kilbourne points out this issue in her work “Beauty and the Beast of Advertising”. She states that “a number of studies have reached the same conclusion in that a large number of advertisements portray women as house wives or sex objects. The house wife is married, usually with children and is shown to be obsessed with cleanliness and alpine fresh scents. Indeed, the house wife‘s life revolve around products which make her house dust-free, germ-free and dirt free, she usually does it with a smile.” This aspect which is pointed by Kilbourne is very much in common in TV ads. There are very few ads where are women are shown as professional or working. Turning to the other issue of this stereotyping: women are used in TV advertisement as sex objects. The sex object, according to Kilbourne is a “mannequin” whose only attribute is conventional beauty.” [Ingham, 1995]  We can observe this matter in these hyper real adverts; weather it is a ad of beauty soap, cold drink, juice or any other product. The most interesting aspect is that women are shown in men’s perfume or motor bikes, where they are obviously used as show pieces.

Another chief issue of these hyper-real advertisements is that they are pushing people towards materialism. Advertising revels the latest fashions and new popular novelties on the market. It exhibits perfect individuals wearing the new styles and looking good. Consumers observer this perfection and envy it. Therefore they go out and buy in hopes of reaching perfections. People may feel difficult to buy to buy in hopes of reaching perfection. People may feel difficult to buy then, but they still buy them as if it’s there need. People can buy nice clothes at affordable prices from anywhere they want but TV adverts make their mindsets for designers wear or for particular brand. We have so much examples of so much designer Lawn launch this summer like HSY, Nadia Hussain, and Sana Safinaz and so on. Their prices vary from 2000 to 6000. How can one buy expensive clothes in such high prices issues and inflation? But these TV adverts have convinced people to buy them.

Finally, these TV adverts are promoting harmful products like cigarette and carbonated drinks such as Coca Cola, Pepsi and 7-up etc. Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez in their work “The Morality of Marketing the Marlboro Man” states that “Critics argue that cigarette advertisements also rely almost exclusively on psychological manipulation. Alluring images of power, prestige, glamour, success, vitality and sex appeal are held before the public’s eye, creating a positive association between “the good life” and smoking. Such ads bypass conscious reasoning. They unconsciously arouse in a person a powerful desire that is not rationally weighed against one’s own best interests.” Teenagers get inspired from these advertisements and starts smoking. Now smoking ads are banned. Next to this TV advertisements also promote carbonated drinks which are hazardous and cause cancers. These companies are familiar with the psychology of youngsters so they always target youngsters. According to Richard Brodie in


Virus of the Mind: the New Science of the Meme, “In psychology, the word conditioning often refers to implanting association-memes. When the Coca-Cola Bottling Company pays millions of dollars to show you young people in bathing suits having a good time drinking their products, they are conditioning you to associate good feelings with their brands.”

Thus we come to conclusion that TV adverts are not real but hyper real. Hyper reality is defined by Rachel Merkhofer as “a replica of something that never actually existed, or an image that is more real than the thing it’s supposed to represent.” So rather than believing in this fake reality one should go for the facts i.e. weather a fairness cream will make you fair or a certain cold drink will make you smart. Robert Fritz says that “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.” So do not let these TV adverts decide what you want because you know better what you want.


Kiran Rahim



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