Advertising isn’t just annoying, contends industry critic Jean Kilbourne, it can be genuinely harmful, especially in promoting additions to alcohol, tobacco or even just shopping.
Kilbourne observe that many of the most prolific advertisers are trying to promote regular consumption of their products, which although legal, are nonetheless highly addictive. So they are, essentially, working to promulgate addictions.
Politics is another area in which Kilbourne worried that the growing reliance on campaign advertising is inflicting powerful and distorting influence, implicitly facilitating corruption of candidates while discouraging public participation in the electoral process.
Those concerns have been exacerbated by the recent Supreme Court decision affirming “corporate personhood,” and striking down any limits on campaign spending by corporations. Kilboure fears that decision will have far-reaching and terribly destructive consequences.
Jean Kilbourne will deliver her presentation, “Deadly Persuasion” about advertising and how it tries to manipulate us, in the Sonoma State University Cooperage, Tuesday, March 23 at 7:30 pm. Here's a summary/preview:
What are advertisers really selling us?
Advertising is an over $200 billion a year industry. We are each exposed to over 3000 ads a day. Yet, remarkably, most of us believe we are not influenced by advertising. Ads sell a great deal more than products. They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be. Sometimes they sell addictions.
In her slide presentations, Jean Kilbourne examines images in advertising with the incisive wit and irony that have delighted and enlightened her audiences for years. With expert knowledge, insight, humor and commitment, she brings her audiences to see that, although ads may seem harmless and silly, they add up to a powerful form of cultural conditioning. She is known for her ability to present provocative topics in a way that unites rather than divides, that encourages dialogue, and that moves and empowers people to take action in their own and in society’s interest.
She explores the relationship of media images to actual problems in the society, such as violence, the sexual abuse of children, rape and sexual harassment, pornography and censorship, teenage pregnancy, addiction, and eating disorders. She also educates her audiences about the primary purpose of the mass media, which is to deliver audiences to advertisers. The emphasis is on health and freedom — freedom from rigid sex roles, freedom from addiction, freedom from denial, and freedom from manipulation and censorship.