Are strategic communicators driving/influencing culture OR are they simply reflecting culture?

It’s the age old debate of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did girls struggle with body image issues before they had models plastered on every facet of their life or was it always there just now enhanced?

With the average person encountering approximately 5,000 ads a day, it is tough to say that those things don’t impact culture. With the use of television, radio, mobile devices and tablets, billboards and even guerilla, you really cannot escape advertisements. After all, it has been said that advertising without persuasion is just art. If we are constantly seeing advertisements and a decent amount of them persuading us one way or the other, than it is those communicators who are driving the culture. I do believe that this is not all negative, though perhaps heavily skewed. As I sit here and just think about how many ads I recall seeing yesterday it is tough to even come up with ten. This is a staggering reality that most of what we consume in within our subconscious. I believe this takes on a greater impact than we are aware of. If I am consciously aware about an ad I can ponder the meaning and my feeling toward it but if I cannot even recall seeing it, then I can’t make my own thoughts on it. Continuously seeing the same things over and over again would develop what I see at the norm. The example that comes to mind is the Women’s Rights Movement between the 1850s-1920s. Had advertisements not been used would women across the states have been as engaged as they were? Or would they have just heard about it and thought it was a nice gesture. Without the use of posters, flyers and newspaper advertising it is hard for me to see the same outcome from women. Seeing those posters and flyers consistently began to resonate with women who may have otherwise not participated but it persuaded them. Those forms of advertisements is what provoked women to stand up for their own rights as equals.

I do believe we see less and less of this sort of advertising, maybe perhaps because it is like finding a needle in a haystack among all the ads encountered in a day. Good or bad, strategic communication greatly influences and sometimes does drive cultural behavior. Especially more so in the digital age that we all live in.




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