Yes, I agree. Though advertising is one of the most frequently used medium of promotion of goods and services, it attracts lot of criticism. The opponents of advertising say that the expenditure on advertising is a social waste as it adds to the cost, multiplies the needs of people and undermines social values. The proponents, however, argue that advertising is
very useful as it increases the reach, brings the pay unit cost of production down and adds to the growth of the economy. It is therefore, important to examine the major criticisms against advertising and see the extent to which these are true. This is taken up as follows:
1. Adds to Cost: The opponents of advertising argue that advertising unnecessarily adds to the cost of product, which is ultimately passed on to the buyers in the form of high prices. An advertisement on TV, for a few seconds, for example, costs the marketers several lakhs of rupees. Similarly an advertisement in print media say in a newspaper or a magazine costs the marketers a large amount of money. The money spent adds to the cost, which in an important factor in fixation of the price of a product. True, advertisement of a product costs lot of money but it helps to increase the demand for the product as large number of potential buyers come to know about the availability of the products, its features etc. and are persuaded to buy it. The increased demand leads to higher production, which brings with it the economies of scale. As a result, the per unit cost of production comes down as the total cost is divided by larger number of units. Thus, the expenditure on advertisement adds to the total cost but the per unit cost comes down which in fact lessens the burden of consumers rather than adding to it.
2. Undermines Social Values: Another important criticism of advertising is that it undermines social values and promotes materialism. It breeds discontent among people as they come to know about new products and feel dissatisfied with their present state of affairs. Some advertisements show new life styles, which don’t find social approval. This criticism is not entirely true. Advertisement in fact helps buyers by informing them about the new products, which may be improvement
over the existing products. If the buyers are not informed about these products, they may be using inefficient products. Further, the job of an advertisement is to inform. The final choice to buy or not to buy anyway rests with the buyers. They will buy if the advertised product satisfies some of their needs. They may be motivated to work harder to be able to purchase these products.
3. Confuses the Buyers: Another criticism against advertisement is that so many products are being advertised which makes similar claims that the buyer gets confused as to which one is true and which one should be relied upon. For example, we may note similar claims of whiteness or stain removing abilities in competing brands of detergent powder or claims of whiteness of tooth or ‘feelings of freshness’ in competing brands of toothpaste that it is sometimes confusing to us as to which one to buy. The supporters of advertisement, however, argue that we are all rational human beings who make our decisions for purchase of products on factors such as price, style, size, etc. Thus the buyers can clear their confusion by analysing the information provided on the advertisements and other sources before taking a decision to purchase a product. However, this criticism cannot be completely overruled.
4. Encourages Sale of Inferior Products: Advertising does not distinguish between superior and inferior products and persuade people to purchase even the inferior products. In fact superiority and inferiority depends on the quality, which is a relative concept. The desired level of quality will depend on the economic status and preferences of the target customers. Advertisements sell products of a given quality and the buyers will buy if it suits their requirements. No advertisement should however, make false claim about the quality of a product. If a firm makes a false claims it can be prosecuted for the same.
5. Some Advertisements are in Bad Taste: Another criticism against advertising is that some advertisements are in bad taste. These show something which in not approved by some people say advertisements showing women dancing when not required or running after a man because he is wearing a particular suit or using a particular perfume are certainly not good. Some advertisements distort the relationship like employer employee and are quite offensive.