Advertising and the American

We are surrounded by advertising, which aims not only to give us information about products but also to create and stimulate a buying public with demands for an ever increasing array of goods and services. Advertising shapes our consciousness and tells us what to dream and how to pursue those dreams. It provides us with a concept of the good life and tells us that it’s available to everyone. Advertising equates shopping and acquisition with emotional fulfillment, freedom, fun, happiness, security, and self-satisfaction.

The sales pitch seems to be working. Like no other generation, today’s 18-34 year-olds have grown up in a consumer culture with all its varied enticements, but they are having a harder time reaching financial stability in adulthood than did their parents. Many young people are finding themselves caught in a difficult job market, with too few positions and too little pay, at the same time they are carrying larger student loans and mounting credit card debt.

In 2013, more than two-thirds of all college graduates left school with student loan debt; the average amount owed was $28,400. On top of that, more than one-third of all college students also use credit cards. While some students may be spending on luxuries like fancy clothes, expensive meals, high-tech toys that they really can’t afford, many young people are using credit cards for basic household needs and expenses, such as prescription medication and car repairs. And the appeal to spend more is always there, urging you to buy your way into the American Dream. Let’s examine where some this pressure to spend comes from – advertising.

ASSIGNMENT: In this assignment, you will analyze some advertisements in terms of the ideology of the American Dream. To start your research, find three or four ads from magazines, newspapers, websites, or other sources. These should be “print” ads rather than video clips. Look for ads that are of interest to your particular age, gender or other demographic group. In particular, try to identify ads that are selling the idea of the American Dream of wealth, success, or living the “good life.” Examine both the visual (images and layout) and textual (words) element so the advertisement.

For each of the ads, consider the following questions:

· What product or service is being advertised?

· For whom is the advertisement intended?

· Does the ad “work”? Would like to buy the product or service? Why or why not?

· In addition to a product or service, what else are the advertisers trying to “sell”?

· What are the explicit (obvious) and implicit (subtle) messages conveyed in the ad?

· How do these messages make you feel? Do they play on your emotions, desires, or sense of self-worth? If so, in what ways?

Once you have examined all the ads, consider these more general questions:

· What were the similarities or differences between the ads you chose with regard to their underlying ideology?

· How do the ads represent a particular lifestyle that you should aspire to? How does that influence your buying habits?

· What types of ads have a strong effect on you? Why?

· What kinds of pressures do you feel to keep up with the material possessions of your friends, neighbors, or co-workers?

· Why do you think we are lured into shopping and acquiring material possession?

PAPER: Write a 3-4 page essay discussing your general thoughts on advertising, consumption and the American Dream. Include an analysis of the specific ads you chose by answering the above questions.