Commercial Advertisements

From the time when television was introduced, it has captivated us with its ability deliver prompt and specific information into our lives. Television has always been viewed as a well established form of mass media. Conversely, with the frequent interjects of commercial advertisements appearing throughout our scheduled programs, it is also assembled to distribute exact messages into minds of its viewers. Television aims its messages at a particular audience by airing specialized commercials during programs shown at the same time that the targeted individuals are most expected to view them. It becomes interesting then when one actually takes the time to thoroughly examine the messages being presented to them throughout their favourite television program. By doing just that, I was able to examine how most television programs and commercial advertisements make effective use of their target audience by assigning corresponding air times in order to send messages coherent with the interests of the these individuals and with each other. Thus, the persuasive combination of television programs and commercial advertisements constructs the potential to attract the viewer and plays a crucial role in determining many of the beliefs and values upheld in our society.

For most of us, when we sit down and watch a television program we have a tendency to become oblivious to the countless messages being presented to us by commercial advertisements. This realization became apparent to me when viewing As the World Turns, one of the many soap operas that air for duration of the midday. After observing this program and the series of commercials aired during it, it became clear that this style of programming and the typical advertising that appears during soap operas uphold the type of consumerism associated with a target audience that consists mainly of adult women, prominently from the early adult to middle aged years. Because of this, there is indeed an obvious target for gender that exists within the kinds of commercial advertisements shown during soap operas.

One example of a choice advertisement aimed primarily at an adult female audience is the Olay Daily Facials commercial which is frequently shown during soap operas. This commercial is demonstrative of the way beauty products use their advertisements to encourage women to focus more on enhancing their appearance. By using this product, women are lead to believe that using these facial clothes will not only give them a perfect complexion but it will also improve their lifestyle and make them happier. According to media researcher Sut Jhally, advertisements present the notion that “happiness lies at the end of a purchase” (Jhally, 2002, 80). Beauty products such as this promote the ideology of happiness is being achieved through the consumption of material objects. What we as consumers are doing is regarding our desire for cultural satisfaction through the purchase of commodities. In that sense, consumerism can be seen as the myth that an individual will be gratified and more accepted after consuming a selected product (Jhally, 1998). Therefore, the Olay Daily Facials advertisement promises not only to improve the appearance of your skin, but to produce instant acceptance and fulfillment to its consumers. In other words “advertising provides a utopian image of a new, more attractive… “you” through the purchase of certain goods” (Kellner, 1995, 251). Therefore, like most commercial advertisements, it delivers us with the message that you can change yourself and your lifestyle by buying something that will in turn make you happier (Jhally, 2002, 78-80).

In this sense, the majority of the commercials aired during soap operas are essentially “selling” women the idea that beauty equals happiness. But, what is actually being said about the product itself? Not a whole lot. What viewers are shown is shot after shot of the Olay product as well as the actress staring at her reflection and smiling at the camera after having cleansed her face with the facial cloths. In fact, it was only after doing research on Olay Daily Facials that I learned what they were and how they worked. By focusing the majority of the commercial on the model with the product it becomes apparent that “many commercial messages use images and representations of men and women as central components of their strategy to both get attention and persuade” (Jhally, 2002,