Advertisements are a very influential part of our lives. We

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Advertisements are a very influential part of our lives. We have been exposed to ads all our lives, and in many ways, they have shaped the way we think and act. Advertisements are very pervasive and come in many different shapes and sizes. They are available in every form of medium, ranging from magazines, television, radio, the internet, billboards, etc. Ads are very important in our society. They make us wary of many cultural trends, as well as give us useful information that might help us lead better lives.

Advertisements are designed to attract public attention and patronage. There are many different types of ads. There are ads that promote goods and services, and there are also ads such as political campaign ads and non-profit health ads such as those ?Quit Smoking? campaigns. But no matter what type they are, ads serve one general purpose: to tell us where we belong in society.

In the essay ?Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising?, Jack Solomon analyzes cultural trends and how they are influential to advertisements. To initiate his analysis, Solomon first claims that there are two faces of the American Dream. They are Populism and Elitism. Even though Americans cherish and celebrate equality and such ideologies, deep down, everyone is tying to rise above in the social order, and bask alone in one?s glory. As Solomon states, ?It is as if our society were a vast high-school football game, with the bulk of the participants noisily rooting in the stands, while, deep down, each of them is wishing he or she could be the star quarterback or head cheerleader? (138).

These values are visible in advertisements as well. There are ads that are exclusively meant for the high-class elite individuals, and ads that appeal to the popular mainstream audience. In Solomon?s essay, he uses examples of automobile ads to explain populism and elitism. He claims that cars such as the Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and the Porsche use very classy and sophisticated ads to promote their products. They do this because as Solomon states, ?The unwritten message here is that an extraordinary car deserves an extraordinary advertisement, and that both car and ad are aimed at an extraordinary consumer, or at least one who wishes to appear extraordinary compared to his more ordinary fellow citizens? (139).

The Chevrolet ads on the other hand, portray the car as an everyday car for everyday people. It is geared toward the common folk, and use mainstream, practical icons in their ads. These advertisers want to tell us that any average Joe can drive in a Chevy and that we all ?belong? in one.

Populist ads such as these Chevrolet ads are also used to eliminate foreign competition. In order to steer American motorists away from buying Japanese or other foreign cars, Chrysler and other American car companies use patriotic and populist images and icons in their ads to appeal to the motorists? patriotic sentiments.

Solomon also describes the McDonald?s restaurant chain as a great example of Populism in American culture. McDonald?s presents itself as a place for everyone, young and old, rich or poor. Their ad campaigns substantiate that. For example, McDonald?s ads convey the image that it is a place where families can come together and enjoy themselves. They also make themselves appealing to children by having playhouses attached to their restaurants, and having many theme characters such as Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar. Even though these things have nothing to do with the foods themselves, they want to give the idea that their restaurants are not only a place to eat, but a place to play and have fun as well. They even have some items in the restaurant that are exclusive only to kids, such as happy meals. McDonald?s also makes themselves appealing to senior citizens. In many McDonald?s commercials, they show many senior citizens working at McDonalds collaborating with their fellow younger co-workers and enjoying themselves. According to Solomon, McDonald?s truly represents American Populism.

Solomon also describes how ?guilt ads? are apparent in Populist advertising as well. Guilt ads are meant to make the American Populist audience feel that if they want to ?belong? they need to consume their products or else they might face social rejection. As Solomon states, ?Advertisements for dandruff shampoos, mouthwashes, deodorants, and laundry detergents accordingly exploit such fears bullying us into consumption? (146).

My personal evidence analysis that I can give to support this is sport compact car advertisements. I am an avid reader of magazines such as Sport Compact Car and Import Tuner. These magazines are geared towards people who modify cars as a hobby. Within these magazines are ads showing off different products that you can buy and use to modify your car. They advertise performance parts such as body kits, exhausts, tires, headlights, fuel injection systems, nitrous oxide kits, etc.. These ads for modifying cars integrate both Populism and Elitism. These ads give the reader the image that even though you own a typical small, cheap, economy automobile, with these products you can make your car look and run much better than any luxury sports car, at a fraction of the cost. They are claiming that you can transform your everyday economy car into an exotic, one-of-a-kind powerhouse muscle car. These ads also promote elitism with individuality. These ads try to tell you that you don?t need to get a luxury car that is made on an assembly line with the same exact parts for each model. Instead, you can use your own parts, your own creativity to make your car your own creation. This shows that Solomon was correct, and that cultural trends strongly affect advertisements.

In the essay ?Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes?, Holly Devor examines and discusses the how culture and society portray the way males and females are supposed to look and act like. Men are portrayed in society as assertive, aggressive and egotistical while females are portrayed as gentle, emotional, and dependent. She discusses the differences in the clothes they wear, how they speak, and how they walk. She shows how these signals are not natural at all but instead are cultural constructs. Devor explains that they are by no means biological or psychological necessities. Indeed, she suggests, they can by all means be mixed and varied.

My personal evidence analysis that I can give to support this is that these car magazines appeal generally to the male audience. The reason for this is because society doesn?t view women as ones that modify and drive fast cars. Cars in general are a typical ?man-thing?. These compact car ads depict this attitude by giving images of power, dominance, and aggression that only a man can typically relate to. Also many of these ads feature scantily clad women in provocative poses to give men some eye-candy while viewing the advertisement. This shows that culture and society believe that anything to do with cars should be exclusive to men.

So in conclusion, Populist and Elitist values and gender roles are apparent in many advertisements. I believe that these types of ads won?t go away any time soon. Populism and Elitism is the epitome of American capitalistic culture and unless this country turns communist, these types of ads are here for good. Also, even though America has come a long way in terms of gender equality, the traditional mindsets of gender roles are still apparent in American culture and society today and will remain apparent in advertisements.

Works Cited Devor, Holly. ?Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes.? Signs Of Life In The USA. 3rd ed.

Ed. Sonia Maasik, and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2000.

Solomon, Jack. ?Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising.? Signs Of Life In The USA. 3rd ed. Ed. Sonia Maasik, and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2000.



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