If advertisements merely sold products, it would cause less critical concern than it does, but it sells images, dreams and ideal ways of life. It sells, and then reinforces time and again, values – those of consumerism and class consciousness; and it trades in stereotypes.
As discussed earlier, advertising creates and sustains an ideology of consumption and it is a social force affecting Indian homes today. Therefore, its impact should be analyzed.
Advertising is a social institution and a necessary social evil. Advertising is a social institution and its cost and benefit should be evaluated to determine the total impact of advertising on our social welfare the issue is not whether advertising is perfect, but whether the benefits of advertising outweigh the costs making social welfare greater than advertising.
Sethi (1997) said that advertising is one of the functions of mass communication. All productivity relies on this medium of mass communication. Advertising diffuses information about commodities, markets them and persuades the common man of their place in his life.
In fact advertising does more than this. It plays a role in social change. It celebrates change and internalizes change for those who become better by using a certain product/service. In short, advertising is the voice of technology; because of that it represents the intention to affect life.
Advertising, though originally used to market products, now, unfortunately, it seems to market feelings, sensations and styles of life; an astounding ‘revolution in manners and morals’. All this has been possible through an efficient communication network which has revolutionized changes.
The first impact that one gets from the advertisement is that the viewers have no choice of their own in making preference for the consumer goods they want to use in daily life. The advertisement imposes choices and preferences on the public mind through language, conversation, jingles, etc.
This kind of aggression on the minds of the people, coming from different strata of the society, can create disturbances on traditional way of life of some category of people. In the long run, it is likely that social and cultural transformations of revolutionary nature are created in the society through such programmes.
On the credit side, advertising has speeded the introduction of useful inventions. It has spread markets, reduced the price of goods, accelerated turnover and kept people in employment.
The relentless propaganda on behalf of goods in general is considered by many a dangerous mode of brain washing in that advertising’s central function appears to create desires that previously did not exist, or rather anxieties which respond to the advertisements (by going out and buying the advertised product or service) helps to assuage but only temporarily.
Advertising in India has created an incredible awareness among the people in the past decade growing into big industry. It was grown along with the press and today it has found its way into the other two media – Radio and Television.
Advertising which was originally an American concept, has found its place in a country like India, so much so that the number of commercials have doubled in the media. Television is the most sought after medium for advertising.
At the moment, the media in order to earn revenue through advertising are implicated in creating a market for consumer goods.
Though it is largely an urban phenomenon, the same commercial advertisements on television reach rural areas and can have disturbing effects on rural people, where wants are encouraged, whose appetite for luxury goods and services is whetted. This can lead to a sense of frustration among those who cannot afford them.
Chunnawala and Sethia have rightly pointed out that advertising in India has played a vital role in the development process by creating a demand for consumer goods and raising the living standards of millions. It is not irrelevant or luxury oriented as it has been made out to be.
A substantial amount of advertising expenses are utilized on advertisements of capital goods, intermediaries, consumer durables and services, most of which promote investment, production and employment.
Further, advertising has a definite role to play in rural development, and Indian advertising has made some progress in this direction as well. Advertisements of fertilizers, pesticides, farming equipment, cattle feed, etc. have reached rural market successfully.