Skip to main content

How to Decipher Advertisements

Plugged In has a great little article in which an advertising executive exults in his ability to manipulate the public. What I appreciated about the article was the articulation of the power of ads and a strategy to minimize the affect. HT: Jeub. Here are a few quotes:

Author and media researcher Dr. Jean Kilbourne states in her presentation Killing Us Softly 4, “Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success. And perhaps most important, of normalcy. To a great extent they tell us who we are and who we should be.”

How to protect and decipher?

As a family:

1) Ask who the ad’s target audience is.
2) Find out who created the ad, and who profits from it.
3) Talk about what ulterior motives they might have.
4) Pinpoint the values the ad endorses.
5) Speculate about what mindsets it’s asking you to adopt.
6) Filter those mindsets through biblical commands and ideals.

Just the act of bringing it up can make a world of difference in the way you interact with an ad. In 2000, a study came out showing that kids with parents who often criticized TV shows, characters or commercials saw less benefit in booze and were less likely to drink than those who said their parents praised shows, characters or commercials. Media researcher Dale Kunkel, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, said, “This shows parents’ comments do matter. You shouldn’t give up in the face of an obstinate adolescent who on the surface seems to be rejecting your comments. He may be absorbing it in a way you don’t appreciate. The bottom line is that media play a role, but parents can moderate that influence.”

As parents, we are called to be the door, guarding the media that comes into our young children’s minds. As they grow older, we are called to equip them to watch out for those who would manipulate them. This article helps.

Update 02/21/2020: The original article referenced in this post is no longer available.

One Comment

  • Bruce Bryant says:

    Your comments remind me of the shepherd we saw in Nazareth Village during our trip to the Holy Land. The shepherd watches the gate… Nothing enters, or goes out without his knowing, to protect his sheep.

Leave a Reply