Do you believe it is possible for advertising (magazine ads, radio spots, TV commercials) to “invent desire,” that is, to create in people a need to have something they otherwise would not have wanted? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
The concept is intriguing. If desire can be "invented," then any product, any service, any theory is potentially a success. All that is needed is a marketing plan and access to potential customers. Invent the desire, and then sit back and collect the profits.
The concept is also frightening. If desire is an artificial concept, then what becomes of the concept of free will? If judgment can be overridden by packaging and promotion, are any of us really free at all? Could the very notion of democracy be destroyed by a good press agent?
Fortunately, I don't believe that true desire can be invented. The most that advertising can create is awareness. Sometimes that awareness is created in a way that makes the product seem more desirable than it actually is. Movie trailers, for example, take the most exciting moments of a film and pack them into sixty seconds, to make the audience believe that the entire two hours will be that action-packed. The tall, juicy burgers seen in fast food commercials bear little resemblance to the wrapper-flattened sandwiches handed through most drive-up windows. Diet programs tout clients who have lost hundreds of pounds, only admitting that "these results are not typical" in small print. How, then, can you account for the apparent success of so much advertising? In some cases, simply creating the awareness can be enough. If a person saw and liked the first two Harry Potter movies, all they really need to be told is when the next one will be released, and what theaters will be showing it. Mostly, however, I think what advertising provides is a bridge between the product and some desire already present in the consumer. A successful cosmetics commercial won't "invent" a desire for a certain brand of lipstick as much as it will establish a connection between that brand of lipstick and a woman's desire to feel attractive. An ad that associates a product with a celebrity connects anyone who uses that product to that celebrity, even if its only in an indirect way. A burger commercial can be successful just by making people feel hungry.
The advertising industry may strive to "invent desire," but I don't believe it can be done. (I do, however, still tend to fall for those movie trailers!)
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