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Effects of media literacy on advertisement viewing


As Jingles play loudly, Coco Cola reminds us of the impending India Pakistan match. The hue is huge as is the cry and almost everyone in my family is preparing themselves for the onslaught that the match supposedly will be. More importantly, the need for Coco Cola to be present.

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This is exactly how advertisements infiltrate our psyche, culture and narratives, minute by minute. Advertisement is media communications which is induced to general public in order to create either awareness or influence negatively. Print media is used en-masse in order to disseminate the desired information that is required to be communicated. There is a constant rampage between the different corporate bodies about proving the similar nature of product that they produce and communicating the same through either digital media or thru other modes of communication constantly proving about the edge of the product that they deal in and highlighting about the same.

Advertisements are covert propaganda, mechanisms that sometimes take on the form of social messages or mere reminders. Which is why and where media literacy comes into play? You and me as a viewer have to now also learn how to asses evaluate and interpret the messages that this covert propaganda is throwing towards us at every second of the day.

We need media literacy in order to interpret the various cultural, social & commercial messages that advertisement disseminate and also to objectively combat its psychological impact.

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There is an enormous pitched competition amongst the various political, commercial, social bodies in order to gain the space available in the general public. For e:g political parties( Cong Vs BJP), corporate bodies (HUL Vs NESTLE), NGOs of different sects etc.

The Indian advertising industry has evolved from being a small-scaled business to a full-fledged industry. The advertising industry is projected to be the second fastest growing advertising market in Asia after China. It is estimated that by 2018, the share of ad spend in India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be around 0.45 per cent.

The Indian government has given tremendous support to the advertising and marketing industry. Advertising expenditure is likely to increase in the financial sector, driven by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) policies which could result in a more favourable business environment. Also, proposed licences for new banks and better market sentiments render the advertising and marketing industry in India a fertile space.

India’s digital advertisement market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.5 per cent to cross the Rs 25″,500 crore (US$ 3.8 billion) mark by 2020.*

The advertisement is hence an industry where every individual is by default by consumer & producer. It is a big industry it is a loud industry and it is everywhere.


In today’s day & age when there are multiple media sources constantly pushing multiple messages into our heads perhaps there has been no greater time than now for us to be media literate. In this scheme of grand plan advertisement plays the biggest role unlike television serial, or a movie. Advertisement is independent of time and space. They are up in your face in mobile phone as are they constantly running by when you watch a game of cricket on the idiot box.

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According to Nancy Bollinger, creative Director and Professor at University of Pennsylvania when one has to be media literate in terms of advertisement here are the following questions to be asked:-

1. Who created the message that is being sent?

2. What techniques were used to attract my attention?

3. How might other people understand or

4. Interpret this message differently from me?

5. What points of view or values are included or omitted from this message?

6. Why was this message sent?


For a long time now adverts have become our crash course like teacher and influence us for good or bad. They tell you to look beautiful only then do you feel beautiful. They make you believe that you are craving McDonald and then only way to “happy life”. Perhaps only they taught us that periods are blue and the world is black. According to the psychology of advertisement -Advertising often plays to consumers’ emotions. Fear, love, pleasure or vanity can be powerful drivers of consumer desires and response. Each of these emotions can be manipulated and used in a different way to affect behaviour. Pampers, Johnson and Johnson, jewellery stores and pet stores are just a few brands and industries that use love.

Advertising can use fear tactics to create an uncomfortable position or situation, then provide a solution manifested through a given product or service. One approach where fear is used is “the fear of missing out.”


One of the best ways to persuade someone to action is to gain their trust or provide irrefutable logic. Advertising also uses these two basic principles to drive consumer purchase behaviour. These two basic principles needs to judged by the consumer with the help of media literacy. Only then can we refute the illogical logic of marketing and the all pervasive trust factor.

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The next time you are reminded of Indo-Pak match, remember to look out for the brand so desperately in love with its nation.

REFERENCES 1- Dornsife, Dana and David. Thinking Vs Feeling: The Psychology of Advertising, USC Dornsife, University of California

2. Glintadv. Psychology in Advertising, .

3. Friestad, Marian. Wright, Peter. ( 1st June, 1995). Persuasion Knowledge: Lay People’s and Researchers’ Beliefs about the Psychology of Advertising, Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 22, Issue 1.

4. 3rd March, 2017. Advertising and Marketing Industry in India, IBEF,

5. Bollinger, Nancy. Critical viewing Advertisements, Coursera, University of Pennsylvania.

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