By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
Advertisement has become an integral part of successful business enterprise in this modern era. It publicly promotes some commodity to increase its sale. As Samuel Johnson had said long back, “Promise, large promise is the soul of an advertisement”. That is what we find in these advertisements. For the promotion of their products the advertisement writer makes large promises. Stephen Leacock had said, “Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it”. I think that he was very right in his remark, since some advertisements do seem to block the intelligence of many assertive and educated people. They may be swayed by the persuasive and wonderful tone of the advertisement. Anybody can fall into the advertisement hook, line and sinker. The aim of advertisement is to earn money.
In a way the advertisement has both positive and negative aspects. Negatively it tries to overthrow certain things used by the people and change their views and positively it attempts to create a public opinion in favour of its acceptance. In short advertisement is an art and its success depends on the skill of the advertisement writer. These writers are very talented persons and they have the capacity to influence public opinion.
In this era advertisement has become indispensable for success of some projects and it covers a wide range from food to cosmetics to medicine to clothes to education and to endless possibilities. An advertisement writer must have the necessary skill to make the advertisement impressive, colourful and eye-catching. It must be very appealing to impress people. Some advertisements are very aggressive and bold and they attract people. The business firms usually advertise their products through news papers and electronic media. Some of them use hoardings for advertisement. Then we also find colourful leaflets which proclaim the excellence of some institutions, some professiols and some astrologers and many other things. You often find these leaflets fluttering out when you open the newspaper in the morning. These leaflets advertise the glory of many things and individuals, covering a wide range.
I know that sale drives are common in modern times. There seems to be an undeclared competition amongst the various business establishments regarding their products. All of them come up with something new and striking. But I think that few can compete with this famous intertiol magazine.
For years I have been receiving letters from this magazine informing me in crisp language that I am one of the lucky ones to receive a mystery gift, if I subscribed to the magazine and availed a discount. These high-powered sale drives are of course common in the present age. But this time I believe, that the magazine has really surpassed itself in its zest for sale.
For two solid days and nights I was in a cloud of illusion and really believed myself to belong to a select group of VIPs—all because this magazine had sent me a card, informing me that I was one of the lucky ones to get my me included among the mes of a select group of individuals, who had been privileged to be invited to be a VIP card-holder. For the life of me I just could not believe my eyes. How could I, a mere “nobody” become a VIP? I could not help feeling proud and thought that I had a decided edge over my lesser known acquaintances. For this favour of the magazine, which I had not sought, I was to be entitled to many privileges. turally I felt inches taller and came to the conclusion that none of my family and friends could really appreciate my true worth and it needed only this intertiol publication to bring to light my hidden qualities. I basked under the mantle of illusory glory—till I found out that twenty others of my acquaintances had received these VIP cards as I did. Imagine my chagrin when I realized the motive of the magazine. I understood that all these fake VIP cards were merely a kind of bait to induce the hapless customer to buy the magazine for long and some others of their publications. On realizing the true facts my inflated egoism instantly reduced like a deflated balloon.
Though common, these high-powered sale-drives have a devastating influence in our lives. I can very well imagine that those who receive such tantalizing letters for the first time might be too excited to think ratiolly (as I was once). They might also wonder, as I did, as to how they could be so fortute as to belong to the exalted group of the VIPs. Now of course I have learnt to ignore such letters. Still their appealing tone goes straight into my heart and sometimes I do waver and wonder if I should make use of the promising offer—such is the magic of their intense advertising campaign. But at the crucial moment my sixth sense asserts itself and restrains me from committing the blunder and good sense prevails.
A young friend of mine sits glued to her TV set just to watch these glamorous film stars and sports celebrities promoting various products covering a wide range. She is not the least interested in other things like news, discovery channel, geography or other educative programmes, She is not even much interested in entertainment programmes. But advertisements draw her like magnet. She told me that it was a pleasure to watch those vivacious sparkling people looking so pleased with what they were using.
After watching those appetizing delightful dishes my poor friend had changed her cooking medium and spices so many times that she herself has lost count. Yet all these changes have not made the slightest difference to her cooking, as she confessed gloomily. She is totally disillusioned after making various experiments.
We all can see on the TV screen that a plain ordiry girl turns into a bewitching beauty instantly after using some brand of cream, lipstick or eye shadow. Some brand of soap makes them alluring enough to catch the attention of young men. Some brand of hair oil makes the rough and coarse hair silky and smooth. My young friend told me ruefully that she had bought all these things and used them, but they did nothing for her. She remains the same plain and ordiry woman as before even after wasting so much money on these beauty aids, she told me sadly. In all these advertisement we mostly see women and young girls. Men appear occasiolly to promote some medicine. A tablet or a capsule can make a sick man healthy and perfectly normal within seconds. Nowadays they are also used for advertising some beauty care products for men. Possibly they too are not lagging behind in the matter of beautification. Then your greasy utensils sparkle instantly if you use a particular brand of detergent. This kind of synthetic cleansing agent apparently makes washing an enjoyable task as we infer from the laughing faces of the women.
My young friend of course has tried all these things which apparently create miracles. The poor thing is totally disillusioned after making experiments with various brands of hair oil, cream, lotion, shampoo, lipstick, and all that lot. I wonder if she has learnt her lessons by now. It would be wiser for her to realize that all that glitters is not gold. As her husband complained bitterly that his wife had turned his home into a junk shop. He said that it was nothing but sinful waste of his hard-earned money. But his face softened perceptibly when he observed his wife’s downcast face. She truly looked repentant. She promised faithfully that she would never again spend money on unnecessary things. Her husband looked gratified and made light of the matter to console his wife.
These advertisements have indeed made a tremendous impact on the gullible people like us and have caused a deep dent in our budget as well. I suppose all the women wish to look beautiful and they also want to cook delectable dishes to please their respective families. These advertisements are written by talented people and they are skilled enough to impress the hoi polloi. Perhaps they are adept in psychology and may be able to gauge the feelings of the people. We must give them credit for making us lose our common sense and also for making us behave like morons. I think these advertisement writers are very talented people.
Some recent studies have indicated that more important than intelligence and education in regard to the receptivity of advertisement are persolity factors and the situation in which the individual is placed. Thus the individual would show considerable credibility if his or her need is acute. If an individual is in acute need of something and if a given advertisement appears to be compatible with this need, then the person is sure to be affected by it, however intelligent and educated he or she may be.
In the past there were no such wide-ranging advertisements. Today advertisements cover not only all sorts of commodities, but they also cover professiols, astrologers and others. Sometimes your self-confidence deserts you and you fall in the grip of some clever advertisement writer. These advertisements make us waste huge amounts of money on some products with enormous hope for something wonderful. But our hope gets shattered when we do not get the desired result.
These advertisements indeed have made a tremendous impact on the gullible people like us. I suppose there are very few persons who can resist these colourful bright advertisements. I too have had many bitter experiences. But now I have taken a firm grip on my common sense. I wonder if these things are as good as they claim, then why go for such an enormous expense for promoting their sale? After all, work speaks louder than words. If these products work so marvellously, then no words are necessary to promote their sale. But we should realise that even if they are constructive and very good, they cannot create miracles. So all these advertisements we should take with a large table spoon of salt.