A friend of mine told me the other day how her daughter demanded she buy her a toy she’d seen advertised on TV. She is barely three and still learning her vocabulary, but she was able to pronounce the rather complicated name of this toy without difficulty. Despite her parents’ frugal outlook on life, the power of TV advertising had persuaded her that she couldn’t live without this wretched item.
I am well aware of the phenomenon of kids’ pester power. However, I still couldn’t help but find this incident a bit sinister. Oddly enough, I’d been wondering lately whether television advertising still works. I am struggling to think of any products I have been persuaded to buy recently simply because I’ve seen them advertised on TV. Mostly when the commercials come on they are so loud and intrusive that I press the mute button until the programme I’m watching returns. Some ads are funny, of course. I enjoy the ones for heavy duty kitchen roll, for example, with the burly men in drag, but when I go to the supermarket to buy kitchen paper I don’t remember them and reach instead for the cheap or recycled own brand version. Watching Mark Addy and Fay Ripley browsing for wine in Tesco’s does not make me want to jump in the car and go there for some Pino Grigio either. The only exception may be the current ad for Galaxy chocolate, but then I suppose everybody has their Achilles heel…
But while some adults may be part-immune to advertising after years of bombardment with TV ads, our children haven’t inherited our immunity. They are still like sponges, waiting to soak it all up and pester Mum and Dad – the miniature puppets of some advertising mogul and his corporate client. How horrifying. No wonder the French have banned advertising mobiles to children under the age of 12. And while I’d question whether advertising still has the power to make adults buy specific brands, I think many of us still labour under the illusion that we have to have certain possessions to make us feel successful. It’s hard to know whether this is a product of advertising and the media or an innate competitive ‘survival of the fitness’ need to better ourselves and outdo our peers from a financial or material standpoint.
I have just started reading a book by the psychologist Oliver James called Affluenza. In it he argues that in the West we are all suffering from the ‘affluenza virus’. The ‘virus’, he claims, makes us obsessed with ‘keeping up with the Joneses´ and chasing material wealth to the detriment of our own mental well being. He believes that our obsession with the material things in life is making us more vulnerable to emotional distress and depression when we fail to measure up to these overblown expectations.
While reading through his ‘do you have affluenza quiz’ at the start of the book, I was shocked to find that I had some of the symptoms, despite my attempts to live frugally over the past 18 months. Sounds like I still have some way to go…
Do you think TV advertising still has a hold over us? Do you worry about keeping up with the Joneses or has the recession changed your outlook on this? Leave a message and let me know.
|StumbleUpon||Technorati||Yahoo! My Web|