Exploring the tension created between consumerism and the production of mindfulness in advertising, in order to implement a more sophisticated model of “mindful consumerism”.
Chapter 1 explores the cynical effect psychological techniques used within
advertising have on the consumer.
Chapter 2 introduces a more sophisticated model of “mindful consumerism”.
Chapter 3 identifies how advertising can be used mindfully to support and
enhance public awareness campaigns.
Chapter 4 stresses the importance of advertising in third world countries as a
form of communication and development strategy.
During a brisk walk through Huddersfield town centre, merely stretching 3km I
was exposed to over 20 means of advertising. Posters, billboards and leaflets
handed to me; I shoved them in my pocket and made my way to university.
Sitting at my desk I opened up my web browser and instantly numerous of
ads screamed rudely in my face “look at me” “buy me” “sign up here” and
that’s when it came to my attention, there is no escaping the world of
advertising in the society we live in today. Fortunately I’m not the only
individual who has been taking notice, corresponding to Georg Franck, “It is
becoming harder to escape from advertising and the media. Public space is
increasingly turning into a gigantic billboard for products of all kind. The
aesthetical and political consequences cannot yet be foreseen.” (Franck,
1998). Advertising plays a vast role in modern day life, shaping the attitudes
of society and influencing consumer behaviour. Even if we are not fully aware,
everyday we are delivered a huge amount of information which ultimately
informs/conditions our choices.
This investigation will explore the techniques used in advertising and the
psychological effect they have on the consumer. It will look at the reasons
why brands use advertising and the positive and negative effects it’s having
on consumerism, society and the environment. Hopefully the emphasis
stressed upon the negative tensions created will encourage change and the
idea of mindful consumerism. Existing mindful campaigns, materials and
charities are conversed in motion to inspire future consumers, advertisement
strategies and consumer brands. It’s paramount that attention is paid to the
subject matter promptly before the detrimental consequences advance.
Chapter 1 explores the psychological techniques used within advertising and
the cynical effect they have on the subconscious mind of the consumer.
Starting to introduce the idea of mindful consumerism, chapter 1 realises the
need for change. During the industrial era (1880–1956) psychologist Harry
Hollingworth intensively studied the psychological effects of advertising. With
his extensive research and interest in the subject matter he wrote a book
“Advertising and selling: principles of appeal and response” (published in
1913). The book proclaims that advertisements must “attract the consumer’s
attention, focus the attention directly onto the message and make the
consumer remember the message causing the consumer to take the desired
response”. (Hollingworth, 1913) If an advertisement succeeded in achieving
these main goals it would theoretically be successful. Psychological tactics
used in advertising to “attract attention and evoke emotion include selfesteem,
sex appeal; buzz words, personal enjoyment and guilt association.”
(Hollingworth, 1913) Through deliberate exploitation and application of these
visual or auditory techniques, he clarified psychological tactics that had
forceful control upon the audience’s subconscious mind along with emotions,
changing the way they think, eat, dress and spend.
Very similar ideas about advertising are later shared within history; in
1986 Petty and Cacioppo introduced “The elaboration likelihood model (ELM)
of persuasion”. Psychologist Robert Heath talks about this theory in ‘Seducing
The Subconscious’ suggesting “that people who were involved or motivated
by a product field would think more deeply about the arguments presented by
the advertising, whilst those not motivated would process the ads in a shallow
inattentive manner. The two routes are known as the Central Route and the
Peripheral Route” (Heath, 2012). From studying ‘Seducing The Subconscious’
I discovered the central route in particular conforms to ideas of Harry
Hollingworth as it relies on a controlled appeal to motivate the consumer. This
involves a vast amount of cognition generated by psychological tactics such
as “self-esteem” and “buzz words”. Petty & Cacioppo said, “When conditions
foster people’s motivation and ability to engage in issue-relevant thinking, the
“elaboration likelihood” is said to be high. This means that people are likely to
attend to the appeal; attempt to access relevant associations, images, and
experiences from memory” (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Both theorists suggest
advertisements rely on the use of psychological tactics claiming, “that attitude
change was necessary for advertising to be effective” (Heath, 2012).
The psychology of advertising has now become a contemporary subject with
reams of controversy surrounding it within the media today, many of which
supporting everything Harry Hollingsworth believed and discovered in his
studies to be true. In March 2015, Jean Kilbourne released a documentary in
her collection ‘Killing Us Softly’. Her documentaries are renown for
deconstructing the subliminal information hidden in food advertisements as
well as those associated with body image. The main focus throughout the
series is images of women in the media describing how they design a “toxic
cultural environment” (Kilbourne, 2010). Kilbourne claims that the mindless
images are at risk of causing mental illness such as depression, low selfesteem
and eating disorders. Kilbourne voiced, “At the centre of many of
these ads is an image of idealized female beauty. Models are tall, slim, and
light skinned, and digitally altered to ever-more unrealistic proportions.
Women and girls compare themselves to these images every day and failure
to live up to them is inevitable because they are based on a flawlessness that
doesn’t exist”. (Kilbourne, 2010) A perfect example of a consumerist
advertisement that conforms to Kilbournes writing from 2015 is the Protein
World advertisement promoting weight-loss products with the rhetorical
question “Are you beach body ready?”
Advertised worldwide across billboards, magazines and all forms of social
media this advert evoked so much embroilment an online petition with over
70,000 signatures was constructed by Charlotte Baring on Change.org in
hope the posters would be removed. Campaigners accused Protein World of
body shaming and being ‘sexist”. The colloquial question used alongside the
sun kissed slender framed model summons all women to conform to the
subjective standards of what you perceive to be a ‘beach body’. The pronoun
‘you’ makes the advert directly target individuals, therefore impacting the
consumer’s subconscious mind and emotions making them compare their
personal physic with the slender models. This conforms to what Petty and
Cacioppo call “The central route to persuasion” as the careful concentration
upon the language used targeting them directly with the pronoun “you” makes
the consumer an active participant in the process of persuasion. This route
opposed to the “perpetual route” will “show greater temporal persistence,
greater prediction of behaviour, and greater resistance to counter persuasion
than attitude changes that result mostly from peripheral cues” (Pretty &
Cacioppo, 1986. P108).
Despite using persuasive techniques, this mindless design caused
widespread controversy sparking feminists to deface the posters on the
London underground with Graffiti reading “Stop encouraging women to starve
themselves”. Which was a completely different reaction the campaign
designers intended for. Vexation also provoked consumers to organise a
protest against the advert called “Taking Back The Beach”. Subsequently,
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated the “advert
under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and CAP
Code (Edition 12) rule 4.1 (Harm and offence)” despite the advert never being
in disagreement of either of these rules because of outrageous consumer
behaviour they had no choice but to prohibit the socially irresponsible
campaign. (ASA Ruling On Protein World Ltd, 2016)
Jean Kilbourne communicates within her documentary “The obsession with
thinness is a public health problem, the tyranny of the ideal image of beauty,
violence against women. These are all public health problems that affect us all
and public health problems can only be solved by changing the environment.”
(Kilbourne, 2010) Acknowledging the serious need for change implementing a
more ‘mindful consumerism’ SimplyBe a notably respected company in the
beauty industry re-designed the advert.
Opposed to the original campaign Simply Be takes a completely different
approach to the advertisement featuring an average sized, unedited image of
a model among the phrase “Everybody is beach body ready”. Reflecting
contrasting ideas of women’s body image, the indefinite pronoun ‘everybody’
subconsciously suggests the idea of equality for women. Conceivably, if these
same ideas were shared throughout advertising, it would decrease the
physiological effects that advertising allegedly accounts for regarding body
image. Being present in this day and age, exposed to perpetual and
immediate stimulation to all forms of advertising, the perpetual reminder of the
“thin ideal” could primarily be responsible for body dissatisfaction. A. Chris
Downs and Sheila Harrison conducted a study in 1975, which featured in Sex
Roles: A Journal of Research. The significant results shown that “one out of
every 3.8 television commercials feature a message about body image”.
(Downs and Harrison, 1985) Both of which investigated that people who
frequently watch television are annually exposed on average 5,260
advertisements related to body image. As 1,850 of them are specifically about
beauty there is no escaping the constant display of body images women do
not conform to, but aspire to be like. Advertising is guilty for editing images of
women creating unrealistic ideas of what you should look like. Undoubtedly
this will have some form of effect on the psychology of women consumers.
The 1920’s showed a strong relationship between consumerism and
advertising with the vast increase in sales of the radio. Through the
advertisement of the new media over half of America owned a radio by the
1930’s. As advertising techniques advanced over decades, repercussions
regarding consumerism emerged. “Advertising changes society makes people
buy things they do not want; enables multinational capitalistic monopolies to
batten on the working class” (White, 1980) Consequently, the need created
for unnecessary products could account for financial difficulty in households.
Income mindlessly spent on new technologies such as the radio could be
used more wisely.
Advertising today still remarkably contributes to consumerism, for example this Heineken beer poster featuring the phrase “thirst for new experience” immediately attracts the consumers attention as the idea of something “new” evokes excitement and adventure. Attaching the idea of an “experience” to the product compels you to buy it as it makes it
seem as though you’re buying more than just beer. Beer is not an essential
part of a consumers diet; beer is an acquired taste, which is why it’s important
for the advertisement to entice new customers. However, to consume beer or
any other form of alcohol in the UK legally you must be over the age of 18.
The exposure of this advertisement in public spaces theoretically means it
could be observed by youths. Attaching the idea of a “new” experience could
be deemed mindless in the sense that it could encourage underage drinking.
Early investigations from Vance Packard in 1957 In “The Hidden
Persuaders” scrutinizes the use of consumer motivational research along with
additional psychological techniques such as subliminal messaging used by
advertisers to manipulate perspective and evoke a urge to purchase products.
He defended that advertisers were purposely applying “hidden symbols to
goad the unconscious mind and the body under its control into the act of
acquisition.” “Large-scale efforts,” he claimed, are “being made, often with
impressive success, to channel our unthinking habits, our purchasing
decisions, and our thought processes…. The result is that many of us are
being influenced and manipulated, far more than we realize, in the patterns of
our everyday lives.” (Packard, 1957). Packard establishes eight “compelling
needs” in order for advertisers to create a fulfilling promise around the
products. “Emotional security, Reassurance of worth, Ego gratification,
Creative outlets, Love objects, Sense of power, roots and immortality
(Packard, 1957).” According to Packard the urgency generated is so very
powerful people feel obliged to purchase the products to feel satisfaction. For
example, this advertisement from Du Pont Cellophane came out in 1954.
(“Odd Ads: Dupont Cellophane Ads”, 2014)
An interesting connotation from this advertising firstly would be the shift in
attitude from a consumer in 1954 compared to the modern day consumer in
2016. These images of babies wrapped Cellophane today would are
perceived as socially unacceptable due to the dangerous quality’s of
cellophane but back in 1954 the inconsequential social responsibility were
overseen and with the combination of imagery and suggestive language “The
best things in life come in cellophane” combining Packard’s idea of love
objects (the babies) and manipulation with the connotations of the word
“good”. These techniques create a want for this product by suggesting by
buying a Cellophane bag you will “see so many good things”, with this need
attached to the product who could possibly resist?
Despite the questionable use of imagery, interestingly this advertisement
unknowingly promotes mindful material to consumers. Regarding the
environment, Cellophane is a plant-based material with composting and
biodegradable attributes, consumers have a tendency to class cellophane as
a harmful material however due to the process in which they its made as it
includes toxic chemicals. This means it can still be argued as harmful to the
environment. As we compare this advertisement to the ideas surrounding
plastic bags in our modern day society we see a big shift in mindful
consumerism. In 1954 when the advertisement was designed, consumers
were not mindful of the environment failing to see the positive or negative
effects of the material, the main positive quality they would of noted would be
cellophanes see through qualities. Whereas today global warming is a serious
concern surrounding society, influencing the way in which we think, buy and
In 2015 for the British economy introduced a 5p charge for cellophane bags in
supermarkets in hope consumers become more mindful of the environment
discouraging the mindless use of the bags as the process they are made is
emitting to many toxic chemicals damaging the planet. The decrease in the
consumption of the bags will eventually decrease the effects and damage
they account for. Supermarkets such as Asda have made it their primary
obligation to give all customers incentive to change their behaviour. To do so
they have introduced plastic bag recycling facilities in all stores and designed
a program to benefit small communities. This program was driven by the
reward of green goodies for schools’ vouchers to shoppers who re-used bags
alternatively to buying new ones.
Alternatively to a plastic bag, supermarkets today encourage the use of a
fabric tote bag marketing them as “a bag for life”. (“How Can Plastic Bag
Addiction Be Cured? – BBC News”, 2016). Generally made from canvas or
woven synthetic fibres, they are much more durable than plastic bag allowing
multiple usage. The research director (Nick Sterling) at Natural Capitalism
Solutions educate to us the impact the bag for life could have on the
environment with his studies “If each bag is used multiple times, at least once
a week, four or five reusable bags can replace 520 plastic bags a
year.” (Gamerman, 2016). Dramatic evolution concerning the shopping bag
from the cellophane bag to the reusable “bag for life” is a prime example of a
shift to a more “mindul consumerism” this investigation promotes.
Chapter 2 primarily targets advertisers and designers that encourage and
influence mindful consumerist behaviour. Through the rise in environmental
and economic activism, society has begun to recognize and become more
aware of the serious effects of consumerist behaviour. Increasing the
embroilment surrounding this subject matter this chapter thrives to intensively
study the tensions created by consumerism and argue the positive benefits of
mindful consumerism as a remedy for many problems our society are
currently encountering. Hopefully this emphasis stressed will impact the future
of consumerism and advertising. Potentially this could be the birth of a
Several renowned companies are already responsive to the problems arising
in society through their production principles. Starbucks have accepted social
responsibility working to shrink their environmental footprint by reducing waste
and using renewable sources of energy. Cups are made from 100% recycled
paper. They frequently advertise and encourage consumers to purchase a
reusable cup. To promote and reward consumers for reusing a cup they
reward they offer a 25p discount with their purchase. They have also
acknowledged the excessive amount of waste generated by stores and
developed a strategy separating waste into 6 categories to maximize recycling
opportunities “organic waste, dry mixed recyclables, cardboard, general
waste, milk bottles and aluminium canisters”. (“Recycling| Starbucks Coffee
Another main selling point for Starbucks is their certified fair trade coffee
beans, helping to tackle poverty. The repetition of the fair trade logo across all
stores, products, posters, billboards and social media suggests to consumers
by choosing to drink at Starbuck apposed to competing brands will help you
contribute to helping the planet. In a article “Psychological Determinants of
Paying Attention to Eco-Labels in Purchase Decisions” by John ThorgersonThorgerson,
considers that “everyone who chooses an eco-labelled product has to pass
through a sequence of three mental stages: determining a personal objective with regard to environmental protection, believing that making responsible
purchases is an efficient strategy to achieve this objective, being familiar with
eco-labels (that they exist, what they look like, what they mean, having faith in
the label; then, in the shop, paying attention to the labels and deciding to buy
products with an eco-label.” (Thøgersen, 2000) Therefore through the
advertisement of the fair trade logo Starbucks are sub-consciously influencing
the phycology of the consumer into sharing the same ethnical morals as them,
as it’s a highly recognised trustworthy cause.
(“Student Advocacy: The Fair Trade Coffee Debate – Grapeshot Online”,
Likewise there are ideas and ethical morals embedded within the many other
advertisement campaigns that encompass mindful thinking. “With every
product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One.”
(Toms, 2016). With over 100 partners in over 70 countries Toms are
dedicated to help develop under privileged countries and people providing
jobs, shoes, medical treatment, water and safe birth. This mindful campaign
helps save lives, develop communities and improve living conditions for
people less fortunate. The campaign will all contribute to increasing sales as it
gives the brand an appeal to consumer’s who are conscious of the economy.
Apposed to buying a pair of shoes from competing brands such as
Birkenstock by buying Toms you are buying more than just a shoe. Many
brands are still concentrating on persuasively conveying the benefits of
products, building a want for the products or services to accumulate ample
profit margins regardless of the psychological and environmental
consequences on the consumer and our environment.
Recycling and energy saving campaigns have made people more conscious
of their everyday behaviour. This could be as simple as buying organic fruit
and vegetables or even wearing a jacket rather than relying on central
heating. Arguably the ideas of environmental and ecological thinkers have
sub-consciously influenced consumers and this has resulted in a more mindful
consumerist lifestyle. Nestle package their coffee in glass jars, although glass
is 100% recyclable made from mainly sand, soda ash, limestone these are all
raw materials, which used over a long period of time could create a shortage.
Manufacturing of glass emits harmful, air-polluting compounds like nitrogen
oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulates. Apposed to competitor Kenco
Millicano who advertise their eco friendly refillable packaging promoting
sustainability with “97% less packaging”. This is known as “Affective
Conditioning”; branding the coffee as environmentally friendly makes you feel
good about the brand as you associate the term “less packaging” positively.
Cognitive scientist Art Markman says, “If we have to make a choice, and one
of the options just feels good to us, then we are likely to go with the one that
feels good.” (Markman, 2010). Its not just Kenco who have consciously
become more mindful regarding the environment, Puma recently replaced the
standard cardboard shoe box with a reusable “Clever little bag”
(“Fuseproject”, 2016) and Stella Artois run a campaign renown ‘Recyclage de
Luxe’ branding themselves as a eco-friendly brand using “75% recycled
Whilst it might still be argued that, despite high efforts from popular consumer
brands, only a minority of people share these efforts contributing to making a
change, as the problems summoned by consumerism are increasingly
criticized within the media, more advertisers will need to develop a more
sophisticated mindful approach to their communication, manufacturing and
(“Recyclage De Luxe – Tod Duke-Yonge”, 2016)
(“Kenco | The Big Picture”, 2016)
Chapter 3 identifies how advertising can be used to support and enhance
public awareness campaigns. As we cannot instantly be pessimistic and
assume that advertising is entirely negative. Every cloud has a silver lining. In
December 2004 New Zealand The Smoke-free Environments Act passed
making it illegal to smoke indoors. Research shows through the increased
levels of advertising used to educate people of the new law effectively
influenced the use of the national free-phone Quitline Service New Zealand
provides to all residents in aid to combat nicotine addictions. (Wilson et al,
2016) This new conversation generated gave many other health agencies
opportunity to promote their services. This is a perfect model of “mindful
consumerism” still exhibiting traditional psychological advertising
techniques to “attract the consumer’s attention, focus the attention directly
onto the message and make the consumer remember the message causing
the consumer to take the desired response”(Hollingworth, 1913) but with
mindful motives. Quitline’s most successful campaign was a television
advertisement in 2004 entitled “Crayons” developing a 30% growth in quitting
(“Quitline New Zealand”, 2016)
The advert features young children copying their parent’s actions, the main
message being “is to quit before your kids start”. (“Quitline New Zealand”,
2016). The psychological effect created on the consumer with the use of what
Harry Hollingworth refers to as ‘’guilt association” motivates them to quit
smoking resulting in improved health and wellbeing.
The high exposure level of a television commercial accounts for some of the
triumph upsurge in consumers wanting to quit smoking. Robert Heath in his
book ‘Seducing the Subconscious’ stresses how “Commercial TV effectively
bringing the cinema into our living rooms, revolutionized the creative
opportunities open to these ad agencies and getting people to pay attention
suddenly” (Heath, 2012). This idea is earlier shared in history with
psychologist Herbert Krugman who produced “The Impact of Television
Advertising: Learning without Involvement”. Believing there are only three
levels of exposure “Curiosity, recognition and decision”. (Krugman and
Krugman, 1965). In 1969 he conducted an experiment monitoring people
whilst they watch television and noting the pattern of their brainwaves. He
found “In less than one minute of television viewing, the person’s brainwaves
switched from Beta waves (brainwaves associated with active, logical
thought) to primarily Alpha waves. When the subject stopped watching
television and began reading a magazine, the brainwaves reverted to Beta
waves.” (Krugman and Krugman, 2008). This meant that the brain was in a
very vulnerable receptive state giving advertisers the opportunity to take
advantage and feed consumers with the desired information and messages.
Public spaces are a great opportunity for high exposure and effectiveness
when raising public awareness campaigns. People have the choice to switch
off a television but there’s no escaping advertising when it’s physically in front
of you. Denver water is a proud distributor of water, supplying water to over
1.3 million people in Denver. Since 1936 they have been committed to
encouraging people to use the natural resource wisely.
This cleverly designed advertisement strengthens the companies
environmental morals and reinforces the message “use only what you need”
tactically with the one seated bench. Typically a bench would seat on average
three people, this irregular bench however subconsciously implies you only
need this restricted amount of room just like you only need a certain amount
of water. The message is very powerful and mindful of the environment. It will
help benefit the economy if the message of saving water is successfully
received by the public, reducing waste of natural resources. Its effective as it
personally involves the audience, targeting them directly. Research of
consumer behaviour by Krugman measures “involvement” as the number of
“connections” made between the individual and the message and the “content
of their life”. He theorised with high involvement with an advertisement the
more likely it is to be remembered. (Krugman and Krugman, 2008). In terms
of this advertisement in particular, if a consumer can recall a period whereby
they wasted water and could have been more efficient they will have high
“involvement” therefore the message will have a greater effect.
Chapter 4 stresses the importance of advertising in the form of
communication to benefit the economy particularly in third world countries.
Also how it’s important to remember that advertising is a form of
communication that relies on a technological infrastructure – from the paper
and ink used to print the most basic flyer, to billboards, TV and the Internet.
England’s health care system relies on voluntary blood donations to
undertake life saving procedures. Annually, copious amounts of blood
donation assemblies are organised by the ‘NHS blood and transplant’, which
predominately depends on advertising to exploit awareness attracting and
encouraging consumers. Their public awareness campaigns mainly run on
social media, the most recent entitled “Be there” from 2015 resulted in 1,048
blood registrations and 628 registrations. (“Be There”, 2016) Encompassing
Packard’s “compelling need” of “emotional security” (Packard, 1957) the
video actively impacts the consumer’s subconscious, emotionally
manipulating them into giving blood. If the population did not have access
high-tech appliances and social media, the success of the campaign would
miserably be affected. The Health care system and millions of lives would
languish. An interesting observation of the English health care system is the
fact that it’s available to anyone despite the active participating (donating
blood) being voluntary.
(“Be There”, 2016)
People are naïve to assume every country is as privileged as England (A
technology advanced and dependent country free of speech). Many other
countries such as Africa would highly benefit from health organisations as well
developed as the NHS. Unfortunately they do not have the resources.
Therefore advertising, especially in the context of awareness campaigns and
political lobbying can be argued to be positive in countries where freedom of
speech has been supressed. The Islamic Republic of Iran can be
characterized as a “theocratic republic” which means there is one supreme
leader who controls everything. This includes the armed forces, heads of the
judiciary, state radio, television networks, police and the council. All books
and movies are censored, its fundamental they are approved by The Ministry
of Ershaad before publicized. It wasn’t until 1993 until Iran had access to the
Internet. (Quandt and Amuzegar, 1994) In May 2015, Dentsu Aegis who
specializes in “management and operating solutions to the implementation of
marketing and communications strategies for advertisers as well as media
and content holders” (Dentsu Aegis Network, 2016) made a partnership with
the Iran International Communications Agency. Professor Manendra Mohan in
her book “Advertising Management” says “Marketing and advertising are key
tools used to aid a country’s growth” it can “lead to wider distribution and
greater availability of goods and services” consequently “generating more
employment”. Also “advertising enables consumers exercise their right of free
choice”. (Mohan, 1989) Regardless of the company being under Iran
sanctions, inarguably this will develop their economy.
Third world countries such as Africa benefit from charitable awareness campaigns run in the UK and other technological developed countries such as
the USA as they stress the need for our help. A remarkable organisation
called Amnesty international UK is a charity helping to protect men and
women’s rights wherever they are denied. Without the powerful tool of
advertising they couldn’t reach out to the enormous amount of people that
they do. The organisation relies on people to voluntary make donations so
they can fund the charitable work that they do. This is a poster displayed on
bus stops across the UK, without this indecent exposure we would not realise
the depth of the poverty and distress that is going on a hundred miles away.
The images are frightening and shocking but it makes you realise how lucky
you are and how much help they need. Mindful of the economy, the emotions
they trigger are what make the advertisement fulfil its purpose of generating
donations and awareness. Referring back to Harry Hollingworth’s research,
this is the “controlled appeal” used to motivate the consumer.
(“Amnesty International’S ‘Not Here But Now’ Series…”, 2016)
In third world countries people have more restricted access to technologies.
They are often limited to posters, flyers, radio, and in some cases television.
In the poorest of third world countries (Malawi, Burundi, Central African
Republic and Niger) they have restricted access to electricity, something we
take for granted. Interactive technologies like the Internet, which enable users
to find and retrieve information themselves are often no more than an idea in
such places. As such, simple forms of public awareness advertising are often
the only means of citizens gathering information. The little access they do
have to advertising is the only means of education they receive about life
outside of their community. Advertising therefore is used to socially advance
them selves; a transnational culture is generated connecting communities
from indifferent geo-graphic and socio-economic situations.
However, this could also have some negative effects upon under developed
countries, as consumer advertisements could shape and change attitudes
towards different cultures and traditions. In 1981, Pierre Thizier Seya studied
advertising within “the Ivory Coast” and says “By consuming Coca-Cola,
Nestle products, Marlboro, Maggi, Colgate or Revlon, Ivorians are not only
fulfilling unnecessary needs but also progressively relinquishing their
authentic world outlook in favour of the transnational way of life.” (Seya, 1981)
Repercussions of the exposure of ads such as Revlon psychologically have
an influence on the Ivorian women’s attitude towards their own skin colour.
Implementing the idea that white skin is more beautiful with this campaign
from the 1980’s “The Most Unforgettable Women in the World Wear
Revlon”. The imagery of the flawless women combined with the adjective
“most” supporting the concept of “unforgettable” no doubt will make Ivarion
women question their appearance, subconsciously fashioning them to aspire
to look like the beautiful models. Once more, advertising despite having
mindful attributes has cynical effects depending on how it’s perceived by the
To summarise this investigation, the exploration of the tension created
between consumerism and the production of mindfulness in advertising has
encouraged the start of a mindful consumerist revolution. The extensive
research undergone around key theorists and studies in the field supports
how much impact advertising has on the psychology of the consumer and
their lifestyle. Harry Hollingworth’s, Petty and Cacioppo’s and Vance
Packard’s ideas surrounding the psychology of advertising show similarities
and agree on the fact that advertising is used to manipulate. Relying on a
“compelling appeal” for the desired response, we can see how the “compelling
appeal” is responsible for the psychological effects and if advertising were to
be more aware of the effect refining the appeal, the modifications made would
Through research around existing conscious mindful consumerism proves
how the powerful effects of psychological tactics can be used to benefit the
economy. We see how technology has amplified the world of advertising;
strengthening campaigns by increasing awareness on large scales. Herbert
Krugman’s experiment confirms that when watching TV the brain is vulnerable
for advertising techniques to have effect. As underdeveloped countries are
slowly being introduced to various forms of technology the problems
generated by advertising and consumerism will only magnify as audiences
increase. Organisations and brands such as the NHS, Toms, Kenco and
Amnesty international UK are already responsive to the problems arising in
the world due to consumerist behaviour and the changes they have
implemented are a foundation of a sophisticated mindful consumerism. They
are conscious of the materials they use, production principles and the
messages they stimulate. The NHS (the UK’s biggest healthcare system) is a
perfect example of when advertising can be used to benefit our society as
they aim to promote good health and wellbeing. If they use forms of media
such as the television to promote good health, campaigns according to
Herbert Krugman’s research society would be a lot more responsive to the
message they are trying to portray. We can distinguish a massive contrast in
ideas opposed when look at consumerist brands that use advertising to boost
sales and raise profit margins despite psychological and environmental
consequences. This shows insufficient remorse to our society.
Concluding the investigation, we can see how consumerism and advertising
accounts for many problems in society such as body image issues, pollution,
shortage in natural resources and financial issues. However, the controversy
heightened by the public surrounding the problems has enforced the idea of
mindfulness. Ultimately, this has formed attentive advertising strategies that
encompass and encourage mindful behaviour. If mindful ideas and morals
were shared across the globe, the economy would start to see an ample
improvement to many of the concerning problems such as environmental
issues, third world country development, waste pollution and public health.
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