Narcissistic Advertising

The reading “The Growing Narcissism in American Culture,” which was assigned for another leadership course I am currently enrolled in coincided with “Desire and Illusion: Analyzing Advertising.” “The Growing Narcissism in American Culture” read that there has been an underlying shift in American psychology. This shift is referred to as the inexorable rise of narcissism in our culture. As I continued to read this article I immediately saw a connection between the shift in advertising and the rise of narcissism. Advertising does more than push a product. Contemporary ads have shifted. The power they hold now generally encourage society to put wants ahead of others’ needs and self-interests above altruism. The persuasion factor, sinfulness and fallacies of advertising contribute to American society’s growing emphasis placed on material wealth, physical appearance, celebrity worship, and attention seeking. This is also known as the rise of narcissism.

Advertising routinely makes assumptions about consumers’ needs, desires, fears and prejudices. Eventually society’s cultural landscape is shaped by messages relayed by advertisements. In “Desire and Illusion: Analyzing Advertising,” it says that ad agencies spend a lot of time and energy trying to come up with striking ads. However, these ads are commonly found to do more than strike you with colorful facts. The hidden messages behind many advertisements often contribute to stereotypes, class divisions, and ideologies. For example, many magazines have ads with beautiful and skinny models advertising the company’s clothes or other products. The idea that American women need to be skinny and beautiful is emphasized and advertised along with the actual product. These ideals created through advertising are aiding in the growth of narcissism.

3 Responses to Narcissistic Advertising

  1. I enjoyed reading your analysis of narcissistic advertising. I myself hope to go into marketing or advertising, and I find it compelling to study what it is that makes certain ads more effective than others. Often times, the most successful ads are ones that are the most misleading. This has in part to do with the concept of narcissistic advertising, but also lies in other forms as well. I did a case study last year for one of my classes on Coca Cola’s decision to endorse the “red dress” for the American Heart Association onto their Diet Coke cans. This created the false perception to many that what was inside the can promotes heart health. Misleading advertising unfortunately renders very successful profits a large amount of the time, and I found it interesting to relate what I have studied in other courses to the reading we have done thus far as well.

  2. I really enjoyed your post about the rise of narcissism in advertising. This is a concept I have never acknowledged before. I think it is very true that we are unaware of the mechanisms that marketers and advertisers use to grab out attention. As well, we are also unaware of our inherent selfishness. While watching TV ads, for example, the ads that are most likely to capture our attention are ads that market a product or service that will directly benefit ourselves, such as a new hair product that will supposedly make us look more beautiful. By applying emotional and social aspects to their ads, companies are able to directly target their core consumers and draw them in effortlessly. This rise of narcissism in advertising may eventually lead to false advertising throughout the entire American media atmosphere.

  3. I find advertising extremly interesting. I agree that ads are contributing to the rising narcisissm in American, but also hold so much power in other areas. Ad’s have completely changed American society. It is interesting to see that our ad’s are filled with those beautiful skinny women, contributing to the rise of eating disorders and body images, while ads can be the cause of the rising obesity as well. I did a study last year on the effects of advertisments that children watch and the rate of child obesity. It was proved that when more and more fast food and other unhealthy foods were advertised to children the obesity rate rose. Ad’s are able to “control” what the children ‘needs’, which leads to parents giving them what they want. In this case, it was fast food. I find it extremly interesting, but also a bit concerning how powerful advertisments have been in the past couple of years.

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