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:)