Advertising: The Fight for Your Financial Life

by Ryan Yates

Who wouldn't trust that smile?

Do you have the strength and will power to hold on to your money? The class I appreciate most during my college career was Advertising 201.

Not because it launched me into a high-dollar marketing career, but because it opened my eyes to multi-layered elements that marketing companies and retailers use to essentially brainwash the public into spending money.

What You Need to Know

Sure, my opinions about advertising could be taken by many people as some incoherent ramblings of a conspiracy driven mind damaged by too much television.

But the fact is this, there is a war going on for your money. Everyone wants it. And they spend millions, even billions of dollars in marketing research and advertising to find the best way to convince you to do so.

One of my favorite quotes that simultaneously makes my blood boil comes from Will Rogers. It reads, “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”

What’s So Bad About Advertising?

I’m sure there are those of you out there with a rebuttal that sounds something like, “What’s the big deal? Everyone has the choice not to spend. It’s not the company’s fault if someone can’t stop spending money.”

Although there is plenty of truth to those statements, when you consider the financial, psychological, emotional, and social extremes marketers go to in advertising their products, you have to wonder if we even have a chance to withstand it.

It’s a well-known fact nowadays that many of the country’s top marketing firms have professional psychologists and psychological experts on their payroll to help assist in the creation of ads. They’re picking apart our weaknesses to exploit the money in our bank accounts.

Don’t even get me started on all of the Lobbyists that are sent to Washington in an effort to influence laws and regulations on behalf of retailers.

Tricks of the Trade

There were times in this country when Listerine was touted as a cure for the cold virus and doctors told us that cigarettes were healthy. Seriously!

Although there are government institutions in place to help protect comsumers against false advertising, there are still plenty of lies that sneak through your television.

What’s worse, we don’t hear about most of the false advertising out there unless we’re directly affected through some sort of class action lawsuit or some other public disclaimer.

Admissions of guilt are far less public than the original ads that contain the lie. It’s just like newspapers running retractions on the back page after running a false story on the front page.

Stand Firm Against the Attacks

My Advertising 201 professor once said that the only way to avoid the influence of advertising was to be asleep. When asleep, he argued, your senses are turned off and the ads cannot penetrate your mind.

I disagree with this idea because I (and I assume others) have had numerous dreams throughout my life about cars, clothes, and numerous other items that I wish I could possess.

I go back to the tried and true information of ‘G.I. Joe’: “Knowing is half the battle.”

I’m not saying there should be a total ban on advertising. I appreciate our freedom of speech. But I do think we should be better informed about practices that are employed within advertising efforts.

We can’t bounce around this life without understanding the fight for our hard earned money. Arm yourself with information, develop your budget, implement your spending plan, and develop your self control.

Photo By Fugue

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred February 15, 2012 at

I completly agree with the article except for one thing:

“There were times in this country when Listerine was touted as a cure for the cold virus and doctors told us that cigarettes were healthy. Seriously!”

When ever I have a cold or sore throat, I gargle with Listerine and it takes care of it most of the time.

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Ryan Yates February 17, 2012 at

Fred, I’m right there with you . . . sort of. I know that there have been numerous tests that have concluded there is no medicinal effect of Listerine on colds or soar throats. So conclusive that Listerine has incurred mega fines.

But I always gargle a little more when I have a cold or sore throat. I guess sometimes it’s a matter of mind over body. If I believe it works, then it works, lol.

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Dave Hilton February 15, 2012 at

I’ve spent most of life in media/advertising & you’re right. A lot of my job is making you realize that you didn’t know how bad you needed to buy/use something.

Once you build a certain level of rapport…people consider you a friend & will buy/use whatever you suggest to them. Even things they don’t (or shouldn’t) want. Not that you need a reminder- but just look at Suze “Sellout” Orman & that stupid card of hers. People think she’s looking out for their best interests…how sad.

I’ve passed on several (potentially lucrative) endorsement deals because I didn’t believe in the product/service. I’m definitely the exception though.

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Ryan Yates February 17, 2012 at

Thanks for the input Dave. It definitely seems like a fine line to walk. And yes, I’m in agreement about the frustration with the ‘Approved Card’.

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