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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Advertising

LAUREN LANGMAN

Loyola University Chicago, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs002

Advertising is the process through which an organization or individual who provides a product or service uses a variety of announcements through signs, billboards, and mass media (that now includes the internet) to encourage people to purchase those goods or services. The average person is exposed to thousands and thousands of ads. In an election year, there will be many more ads “selling” candidates. Some claim advertising leads to social fragmentation, alienation, and the wanton destruction of the environment. But, conversely, others argue that advertising helps consumers make informed decisions and, indeed, provides people with a basis of common goals, values, and a variety of gratifications. All agree that ads are ubiquitous.

THE HISTORY OF ADVERTISING: FROM SELLING PRODUCTS TO PERSONAS

Since marketplaces first emerged, sellers have attempted to supply information to consumers to describe and promote their offerings. The beermakers of Mesopotamia may have been the first people to advertise their products. The brothels of Pompeii advertised their services with signs of stick figures representing the particular services available and the prices of each. These ads still endure. For most of the history of markets, advertising consisted of the displays of wares closely tied to the place where sales or trades took place: what you saw was what you could get, whether fruits, vegetables, clothes, ...

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