Different Views on Advertising Happiness

Whether you LOVE it,

“Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century.” -Marshall McLuhan

“Expensive advertising courts us with hints and images. The ordinary kind merely says, Buy.” -Mason Cooley

HATE it,

“Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.” -Will Rogers

“Advertising is legalized lying.” -H. G. Wells


“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.” -David Ogilvy

We all live inside the “consumer culture”: a culture filled with wonderfully manipulative images that make us long for something we can do just fine without, or so some people wish to believe. Others, the more optimistic or naive — it depends on your view — believe these images (advertisements) give us a view to a future, better self. Now, I believe images can be a powerful way of conveying a message. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, in the end, images, though I admit some are more deceitful then others, merely suggest a course of action that will lead you to a possible happiness. It’s very much like how William Feather explains it: “The philosophy behind much advertising is based on the old observation that every man is really two men – the man he is and the man he wants to be.” Inside this “consumer culture” we are indefinitely asked the question of who would we rather be––ourselves or the confident, attractive person staring back at us from that poster or television set.


– Easy


The Image of Happiness

Jhally explains that advertising is no longer a simple act of manipulating buyers into purchasing products, but is now a sort of partipulation, “with the audience participating in its own manipulation” (Sut Jhally, pg. 251). He means that they are enveloping our social needs and cultures into their products which we then believe we must have. A good quality of life is Jhally’s definition of happiness—what everyone wants and what the marketplace wishes to provide. People have reported that the things that make them happy are not tangible. Instead, people are seeking social fulfillment like good friendships, loving relationships, and control over one’s life. Since the marketplace cannot provide these social desires directly, it aims to connect their product with said social desire. Advertisers know their goods don’t directly lead to happiness, but they do know that the goods facilitate achievement of the dream-like image that they portray. We believe this is a smart way of going about it, because it is getting harder and harder to sell material products when it’s not what people want. But we also agree with Jhally’s argument that this could be a problem in society. When people buy these products that connect to their aspirations of happiness, they expect happiness. What they often get is merely the image of that happiness. Jhally quotes social thinkers who describe it as a “joyless economy” (Sut Jhally, pg. 251). The marketplace mindset is that satisfaction will come through it’s products, so they orient everything around our desires, and ultimately we still end up being tricked into buying happiness.

Travis Cornett


Colleen Blinka

Ashley White



Grade us medium please:)

Partipulation – “Image Based Culture” by Sut Jhally

“…advertising is not simple manipulation, but what ad-maker Tony Schwartz calls ‘partipulation,’ with the audience participating in it’s own manipulation” (251).

This is a quote Colton Revia & I found very interesting when speaking in class. So, advertisements must go beyond their product’s values to reach consumers. A typical consumer is more interested and possibly provoked to purchase a product from an advertisement that is ‘catchy’ or entails an attractive desire rather than facts about the product. What does this mean? Well, for companies who want to sell their product, that means they must identify and target an audience through an effective non-product-related idea. They have to include their product in an image, where the consumer might see anything he or she is longing for. The consumer will associate those longing-desires with that product, and hopefully buy the product based on that interested feeling. But, another conclusion that could be drawn is that it is our feelings of dissatisfaction – wanting more or different – that provoke action stronger than feelings of satisfaction. The washer/dyer and automobile industries have picked up on this already and REALLY BREAK OUR WALLETS sometimes with the way they respond to it. They know that if your car could run 100 mpg and last a long time with out repairs (two improvements most people wish they had)  the consumer would be “happy – satisfied” but they would loose sales. Why? People stop buying things when they are happy – when they have what they need. Same with washer/dryers; they are made to break. A happy customer with a machine that doesn’t need repair won’t be making many purchases. Well, same with people and everything about them. When you are happy with yourself, your body, you life and your choices, you are much less likely to make a change. But when you are having the worst times and don’t know what to do – you usually try something different. So, advertising as an industry plays on our weak points – continues to show us what could be better, where improvements are needed, and people who have things figured out better than we do – to provoke an unhappiness that you might possibly try to fill with their product. girl1SM