Can Advertising Make Positive Changes in Society?

As advertising students and professionals, we all have encountered people in our society who hate advertising and blame it for anything from violence, to over-consumerism, to obesity. But what is the power of advertising?  Can it make a positive change on these topics?

As obesity has become a growing epidemic, and hot button topic, advertisers have begun to weigh in on the issue. Coca-Cola, a huge player when it comes to the obesity debate, and their new ad attempting to tackle the issue, as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota’s “Today is the Day” campaign have both made quite a splash in the news media.

In their ad, Coke addresses the issue of obesity and “their industry’s role” in obesity, without ever taking more than a mere shred of responsibility. I think AdWeek described the ad best as “[spinning] the issue so many different ways that it’s difficult not to see all of them as thinly veiled attempts at manipulation.” (AdWeek’s Ad of the Day: Coca-Cola) This kind of spinning, blame shifting ad filled with vague promises is not the kind of advertising that makes changes, it isn’t the kind of advertising that makes advertisers, or consumers excited.

Meanwhile, Blue Cross Blue Shield has taken the opportunity to create a campaign that has gotten people talking. The “Today is the Day” commercials, created by local Minneapolis agency Mono, have not sugar coated anything about obesity in our country and in their honesty have created a conversation where parents can look at themselves and consider the impact of their choices on their children’s future. This approach has been criticized nationally for being too aggressive, but Blue Cross Blue Shield stands by the ads and the conversation they prompt. (Washington Post)

That is good advertising done well. That kind of honest message carefully created to really make a difference is what makes me proud to claim this industry as my future. Because I believe advertising, when done well and focused on the people on the other side of the screen, is powerful.

EPetersWritten By: Emily Peters

University of Minnesota – Advertising/Strategic Communication

Brand Ambassador

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