The Negative Effects of Advertising on Society

Adverts are everywhere. No one can really avoid them in the modern world. While there are some positives, and we’ll get to that, I want to highlight the negative effects that advertising has on society.

It is what is driving consumerism and what is making people update their phones every year even though they don’t need to. Advertisers are master manipulators. They play with your mind and take advantage of your vulnerability to make money. They can convince nearly anyone.

The scary part is that they are all around us and we sometimes don’t even realize. On our televisions, YouTube videos, websites, Spotify, billboards, at train stations… I could go on and on but I’m not going to bore you.

Without realizing they have managed to brainwash the world. And as all brainwashed people are, we don’t realize we have been brainwashed. We just think everything is normal. We have become completely oblivious to the effects that advertising has on us.

9 Negatives Effects of Advertising

1. Promotes consumerism

We are always told to buy new clothes, that girls need to wear makeup if they want to be pretty and that you can’t be ‘cool’ without having the latest iPhone. Adverts have taught us these habits and many more because it keeps us buying more and keeps companies rich.

There are so many things that we think are normal but if you take the time and really think about them, they don’t really make any sense. They are changing the way we think.

The majority of advertisements promote the fact that buying more stuff will make you happier. But this consumerist lifestyle is what is actually ruining your life.

2. Encourages you to spend money for no reason

Many companies convince you to think that you need their useless product even though the reality is, it wouldn’t make any significant difference in your life.

Think about it this way. For so many years you were able to live without their product. So why waste your money, which you worked hard to earn, on something that you could live without. It might make your life a tiny bit easier, but is it really worth it? Some even go into debt because of this.

People think that buying all this to make themselves happier but at the end of the day they are just doing the opposite. The old saying ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ is true in this case.

3. Buying more stuff is bad for the planet

Consumerism is also causing massive environmental destruction. To make all this stuff (that people do not even need), trees need to be cut down and metals need to be mined. Not only do these deplete our natural resources but these processes release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and ecosystems get destroyed. Now that’s a pretty big price for the earth to pay for something that will not make us any happier.

So, think twice before buying something.

Related: Can Minimalism Help the Environment?

4. Affects children

Companies have started advertising directly to children to bypass the skeptical parents. On television, there are too many toy commercials to count in between TV shows that children watch every day. As they grow a bit older companies also start promoting soft drinks and alcohol to them.

They are trying to get them addicted to these substances as well as the ideology of ‘buying more will make you happy’ as soon as possible so they can make more money.

5. Promotes harmful substances

The promotion of alcohol and smoking is making more people addicted to them. They are extremely bad for our health, yet they make them seem amazing. Teenagers, for instance, think that drinking and smoking will get them more friends and make them more popular. That’s what society is telling them and after so many years, they believe that too.

6. Use of stereotypes

Most times, they enforce stereotypes in the hopes to make more people relate. For example, most beauty products are marketed towards women because they know women use these products more. But these stereotypes are stopping society from moving forward.

They are telling us what we need to do to fit in. Men need to buy these in order to make them more ‘manly’ while women need to buy those items in order to be ‘pretty’ and be liked by men. Many adverts promote gender stereotypes which is something that society is trying hard to get rid of.

But if you grow up seeing these everywhere and it’s the only thing you know, that’s how you will be when you’re older. Before, we could limit our exposure to them, but since everything has become digital and even children are in possession of phones, there’s truly no escaping.

Not to mention how they can even be offensive to some people who have decided to go against these social norms.

7. Makes you feel bad

What adverts often try to do, is make you feel bad about yourself by lowering your self-esteem in order to persuade you to buy that specific product which claims it will make you happier and a better person.

The most common way they do this is by making you feel bad about your body image or how you look in general. They make you think taking pills or wearing makeup is the only way to make yourself look ‘pretty’.

This is a toxic mentality. No one should make people feel bad and take advantage of their insecurities and vulnerability.

8. Clutters our minds

This is not one of the obvious effects of advertising but it’s certainly an important one.

Everywhere we look we hear or see adverts. This is constant unnecessary information that our brains must process. Individuals are trying to simplify their lives in this hectic modern world, but adverts are making it 100 times harder for them to declutter their lives.

9. Misleading

More often than not, companies make products look amazing in advertisements but do not perform nearly as well in real life. This is done to benefit the company since more people will buy their products. The only thing concerning them is increasing their sales. They couldn’t care less about the fact that they are robbing you of your money.

Any Positives?

Now that you know the negative effects of advertising on society, let’s see if there is anything good about them.

While there are a few positive outcomes from advertisements, the list is short. The most obvious positive is that they inform us. Either of new products or inform us about social and environmental issues. They can keep us up to date (although this is not always a good thing).

However, the biggest upside is that they can keep things free and allow people to make money. I’m not talking about the companies that created the adverts. I mean the ones who are showing the adverts. People get paid to do this. It’s the biggest source of money for TV shows, websites, blogs, and other kinds of media. All these can stay free for the user as long as they show adverts.

This is why they are everywhere.

Final Thoughts

Adverts empty your bank accounts for something that will not make you happy. When it comes down to it, it’s all about money. While they allow creators and businesses to make money, in my opinion, the amount of adverts that we are constantly bombarded with, is not good for ourselves, our mental health, or the environment.

Adverts are unescapable. It’s impossible to avoid them unless you go live in a forest. But you can try your best to ignore them and not pay any attention to them. Don’t believe everything that you are told. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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Sofia Hadjiosif
Sofia Hadjiosif

I've always cared about the planet but never knew how I could use my skills to create an impact. But that's when I decided to start Terra Movement. To get other creatives involved in the climate movement and inspire more people to help the planet and its people.

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