There is no question when it comes to the power of marketing and advertising. With the right image and words, you can make people buy a product, believe a candidate, and even pursue a lifestyle you may or may not truly want. Some philosophers blame marketing and advertisement for the rampant consumerism in modern society, but these could also be a tool to make people think.
Many companies have explored producing compelling corporate videos that not only advertise but also inform and engage their audience. The results are images and statements that have remained in the consciousness of the world. Here are some famous and infamous ads that made their mark.
Rosie the Riveter
Even the name conjures up the image: a woman raising her arm to a fist, showing her well-developed bicep and saying, “We Can Do It!” The Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company produced this ad as part of the war effort. Many women were replacing men in factories and plants, and this was meant to boost morale in the workplace. Now the image is a cultural icon and is a symbol of female empowerment the world over.
Thailand’s Anti-smoking Ad
The video went viral on YouTube several years ago. The ad was an instant hit as it carried its anti-smoking message with a punch in the gut. Two children approach several adults as they smoke. Every time they ask for a stick or a lighter, the adults would remind them that smoking was bad for their health. The children would then respond with a simple question: If smoking is bad, why do you smoke? And as the children walk away, they give the adults a simple letter that makes them see the value of their health.
Benetton, United Colors of Benetton
Under art director Oliviero Toscani, Benetton provided the most compelling and controversial images of the 1990s. Toscani often used a simple white background and an image that played on the words that the audience would consider when they thought ‘color’. One of these was an image of a nun and priest sharing a kiss; another was an image of a newborn baby, still with an umbilical cord and still stained with blood; a picture of a gay activist dying of AIDS; and three human hearts with the words ‘white’, ‘black’ and ‘yellow’ hovering over them. Though Toscani’s approach was not universally praised, it made people realize that Benetton was more than a clothing company.
An Image Speaks a Thousand Words
Marketing and advertising are not recent developments. People from ancient times have used it to achieve the same things we want: possessions, power, and even a bit of sexiness. Advertisers can make us believe we could gain fame, thoughtfulness, and friendships if we only use a certain brand or service. Sometimes, it can be insidious in its effect. But we should also know that they can make us change our minds.
A single word can make people aspire to reach greatness, and a single image can make them more empathetic and considerate of their neighbors, and even change the world.