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Does advertisements manipulate human needs and create artificial ones?

Updated on November 29, 2015

According to, advertisement can be defined as and I quote “bringing a product (or service) to the attention of potential and current customers(McNamara, n.d.).” Businesses usually advertise in order to send a message and it has also become a vital tool for individuals and businesses to promote something that they want people in general, or a specific group or target audience to know(, 2011). Often while watching TV we would usually come across an enticing commercial of a new product and automatically start to believe that what is being advertised is something that we absolutely need in our lives even if it is not a necessity. This is exactly how advertising manipulates human needs and create artificial ones. They do so by using mind tricks, using peer pressure, using humor to hide how bad their products are for you, creating a sense of urgency with limited time offers, making their products look absolutely incredible, and by using sexual imagery.

To mind trick someone is to make them believe that something is good for them even if you know they don’t necessarily need it. In most cases it can be a commercial of the iPhone 7, a product that is not out yet but is most likely being thought of as we speak, that is being advertised so the apple product lovers can start saving to buy it. Usually apple bring out new iPhones almost every year and consumers go insane trying to buy the new phone even though the features are basically the same just a different name or number. However, due to advertising it makes the consumers at home feel as though they have to have the up to dated version of the iPhone simply because they want to be in the in crowd which ties into my next point, peer pressure.

Peer pressure can be done in advertising through the use of people. They do so by telling you, the consumer, that you shouldn’t be the only one without that product. This could be something as simple as the new hover board that everyone seems to be obsessed with. Many teenagers and young adults are now going out of their way to buy these products. I have even seen waiters and waitress using them on the job to take food to people in the United States. At first only a few people had them but the more they were being publicized the more people wanted them especially when the consumers saw their favorite stars using them around town.

According to, and I quote “Everyone loves a good laugh, and brands that market unhealthy products like junk food (Doritos, Hershey’s, etc.) and alcohol (Bud Light) know this better than anybody. They use talented script writers to grab our attention with silly jokes and clever gags, but the bleak reality is that nobody should allow their mouths anywhere near these products(staff, 2013).” Even though we know the products are not good for us because of advertisement like these we go out and buy these products just because it is appealing to us.

Businesses love to create urgency with limited time offers. You can usually see this with businesses such as Starbucks, JC Penny, McDonalds, and so on. Starbucks may usually do this during special holidays. For example they might promote pumpkin spice latte during Halloween or a Peppermint hot chocolate during Christmas and they would show that you can get it for 25% off between 8:00 a.m. and 12 noon for the month of October or December. also states that “A phenomenon called “prospect theory” explains that people are more emotionally attached to losing out on something than gaining it. Limited time offers exploit that, because nobody wants to lose out on an amazing deal that won’t be around by this time next week(staff, 2013).”

McDonalds, Burger King, and other fast food joints are notorious for making their products look absolutely incredible especially McDonalds. How many times have you seen a commercial for them advertising the Big Mac and it looks so tender and juicy and as soon as you go there and open the box the sandwich looks as if it has shrunken and it doesn’t look as appealing as it did the other night but now you’re stuck with a sandwich that you thought you wanted.

Last but not least they use sexual appeal. How many of us women have seen the Old Spice commercial with Terry Crews and the other good looking guy and have unknowingly went out and bought our significant other a full set just because the commercial advertised handsome men with their shirts off. Also some businesses if not the majority use females in bikinis to sell their products which grabs the attention of men and young teenage boys. This advertisement strategy usually works because and I quote “When we see someone attractive, our body’s natural response is to release hormones. Our mind will then subconsciously link those positive feelings with whatever product is on the screen. That’s why companies will find any reason to show some skin, even if their product has nothing to do with it(staff, 2013).”

For more than a decade, advertising has served a critical purpose in the business world by enabling sellers to effectively compete with one another for the attention of buyers. Although advertisement can produce artificial needs they also do use their platform to raise awareness on issues with which they may be unfamiliar as well as educate them on the related benefits of your product or service. A popular example of this is the health care industry. With the way technology is continuously improving, advertisements will become bigger and better and people will continue to decide whether or not the products being advertised is a human need or an artificial one(Hamlett, n.d.).



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