At last, we are starting!


Eventually, we are going to launch our blog on “undressing the ad”.  It is a blog you will resort to in order to think about certain issues (food for thought), share ideas with your classmates and teacher and post your considerations. 


Let’s proceed one step at a time, though.

Read the following quotes on advertising.  They were selected by me to prompt some kind of discussion.  I ask you to read them, choose the one you like the most and say why and then find one of your own and post it for your classmates and your teacher to read and reflect upon.


Welcome on board and let’s start our constructive voyage. 

advertising-creative The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague.  Bill Cosby

Our society’s values are being corrupted by advertising’s insistence on the equation:  Youth equals popularity, popularity equals success, success equals happiness.  John Fisher

Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.  Samuel Johnson

History will see advertising "as one of the real evil things of our time.  It is stimulating people constantly to want things, want this, want that."  Malcolm Muggeridge

Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless. Sinclair Lewis

Advertising is legalized lying. H.G.Wells  

Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better. George Santayana

I have discovered the most exciting, the most arduous literary form of all, the most difficult to master, the most pregnant in curious possibilities. I mean the advertisement. It is far easier to write ten passably effective Sonnets, good enough to take in the not too inquiring critic, than one effective advertisement that will take in a few thousand of the uncritical buying public. Aldous Huxley 



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32 risposte a At last, we are starting!

  1. anonimo scrive:

    I found Muggeridge’s quotation the most interesting because it deals with consumerism, rather than fake promises or ad’s effects. The author arose truth: the fact that we tend not to see that advertising is like a drug to us, leading us to desire something even before we know what that thing is; and as we now study the past and its cultures, our sons may study the amount of messages we are now bombarded by and the negative way the affect us.

    "Advertising is the foot on the accelerator, the hand on the throttle, the spur on the flank that keeps our economy surging forward." -Robert W. Sarnoff

    Davide P

  2. anonimo scrive:

    The quotation I liked most is John Fisher’s one. Key words of these sentences are “corrupted” and “insistence”: corruption is the main aim of ads because they want to sell products, stereotypes and ideas in order to make all people think in the same way. And what is the best thing that makes this possible? INSISTENCE!! Insistence not only on broadcasting many times a day the same commercial, but also on showing persuasive elements that lead people into the will of buying the advertised products.
    I liked this quotation because it emphasises on the fact that the use of stereotyped concepts, like young girls, handsome and well-known guys and also ideal lifestyles, makes people want to be young, successful and to have the same things that testimonials have in the ad! Because of this, some values are disappearing and we tend to be addicted to an image of ourselves that has been skilfully created by others, by the ones that want to have the power even over our minds.
    The consequence, to me, is unhappiness, maybe the feeling that, in a not-so-far future, is going to characterise most of the lives of those people who think that, in order to be considered someone, they have to be like the stereotypes set by ads.
    Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.
    Stephen Leacock

    Stef Bm

  3. anonimo scrive:

    I found Cosby’s quotation the most interesting because it reflects the modern lifestyle.
    In my opinion is the society attract by superfluous things, sometimes we forget that feelings like love or friendship are most important than beauty and, unfortunately, we are becoming egoists.
    All the Advertising represent a fantastic, perfect, beautiful, sometimes surrealistic world and they make us to believe that it is the truth but we know that it is not always so.

    "If people aren’t going to talk about your product,then it’s not good enough." – Jeffrey Kalmikoff –

  4. anonimo scrive:

    I like Samuel Johnson’s sentence because an advertisement doesn’t sell real things, tangible goods, it just promises us a better life, more beauty, more success, more money…if we follow its tips and its promises.

    "In our factory, we make lipstick. In our advertising, we sell hope".
    Peter Nivio Zarlenga

  5. anonimo scrive:

    Samuel  Johnson’s quotation caught immediately my attention because of its brevity and its strong impact.
    I think that promises are the soul, the bases  of advertisement.
    Create an ad is difficult because it must be efficient and persuasive in the same time and in order to being like this, the authors use this “technique” .
    Promise and guarantee have different  meaning: the first one is more “free” than the second one.
    In the first one you can also lie, in fact “advertising is legalized lying”, said H.G. Wells but we must pay attention to the false pretences because sometimes can be dangerous for us and for ours safety.
    Mind the advertisement !!!
    On the net I found this quotation and I would share it with you:
    “Advertising is about norms and values, aspirations and prejudices. It is about culture”.
    Anil Ambani
    Chiara B. 🙂

  6. anonimo scrive:

    The quotation by H. G. Wells is the shortest one, but, at the same time, the most exemplificative definition for advertising. It is quite shocking to read and reflect upon a common truth like this, but we need to think about our paradoxical actions as human beings: everybody knows (especially nowadays that we are familiar with mechanisms of progress) what doing advertising means, somebody says it is a deceit and nobody makes the point of the (effective) situation. Is there anybody who is going to question the truth behind ads? I do not think so. We pay too much attention to graphics interface, sound effects and other additional aspects rather than concentrating on the essence, on the lie. Advertising could be considered a form of art with the difference that every form of art hides some truth which we are not sure to find in products that we buy.

    It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.  – R. Serling


  7. anonimo scrive:

    I like Mudgeridge’s quotation because, in my opinion, this is exactly the effect that ads produce in our brains. We do not really understand how powerful ads are; they are really like the Devil that leads into the temptationof wanting, and buying, either these or those things, and in the end we want everything even if we don’t need it.
    "Advertising is the art of making whole lies out of half truths". 
    Edgar A. Shoaff


  8. anonimo scrive:

    The quotation I liked most is Samuel Johnson’s one. It speaks about a “soul” of advertising: promises. I think our society is hypnotized by advertising on web, on newspaper, on radio and especially on television. The power of advertising is the use of promise: it tries to persuade people to buy something “special or magic”, but the truth is that anything is “magic or special”. The seller have to convince people that his/her product is better than the others. He/she do it through a lot of unattainable promises, that affect our mind and our desire.
    “Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it”. Stephen Leacock

  9. anonimo scrive:


    I found Samuel Johnson’s quotation the most interesting because I think that advertising promise us, easily, all sort of things but only few of this promises are really feasible. Everyday in tv, there are slogans, for example, that promise us perfect hair, beautiful skin without wrinkles and imperfecions; other show us an ideal family where eveyone is happy and healthy and have a big smile. Moreover there are some advertising that promise us a easy gain. But unfortunately this things are not easily to achieve and obtain becausue promises are utopic worlds that fight against every-day life. The more important element of adevrtising is the”promise”. Without it the commercial would be less efficacius.

    “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need” Will Rogers.

  10. anonimo scrive:

    "Advertising is legalized lying.",I don’t agree with Welss:advertising doesn’t sell lies,but they package the truth in sweetened lies to make it marketable and make it sell. According to me consumers have the key-role because are capable enough to scrutinize the value of products and even the interpretation of advertisment is up to them.
    Nowadays the consumer is too intelligent to differentiate between a lie and a genuine product,because nobody wants to be fooled,and we can be aware of a product only through advertisment.



    Yes, I sell people things they don’t need. I can’t, however, sell them something they don’t want. Even with advertising. Even if I were of a mind to.”

     John O’Toole

    Valentina =)



  11. Jessy1716 scrive:

    I think the most interesting quotation is the second one, written by  Samuel Johnson. With very few words Johnson describes the fundamental role of advertisement. In fact what an AD has to create is an opinion ,a Thought…and  this is possible  through promises. An AD has to catch people’s attention, it has to convince people , it has to persuade someone to do something. We cannot forget that an AD does not sell a product , it sells its name!!!


    “A caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the  publicity”  George Carlin

    Jessica L.

  12. anonimo scrive:

    In my opinion George Santayana’s quotation represents what is the main function of advertising: "to make the worse appear better".
    The publicity is only interested in making success through the sale and promotion of a given product.
    It does not matter if the product is really useful as we are given to believe: the only thing worthy of some consideration is to convince the consumer that really needs that commodity.
    So before even realizing it, we find ourselves in line at the supermarket, satisfied and convinced of the validity of our new purchase.
    Often a successful advertising campaign is linked to the use of a diabolical nagging refrain, that is inculcated in our weak minds without letting escape.
    Customer, the new slave to the system, leaves himself shaping and manipulating with ease, believing in a fictitious reality devoid of any foundation.

    The first true law of publicity ‘is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague. (Bill Cosby)

    Jiulia B.

  13. anonimo scrive:

    I partly agree with Aldous Huxley’s quotation. I do not think that advertisement can be considered a form of literature. Not all forms of communication are literature.
    Advertisement is no immediate form of language.
    Literature is sincere and clear with its public, because it needs to raise a comment, to make reasoning people about different issues, and so you do not need but your brain and your heart to make poetry and literature.
    Advertising needs to manipulate the public, it has to be subtle and get to the deepest part of our mind, the unconscious. As we know, a poet usually speaks to a literate public. Huxley sais that the “buying public” is uncritical.
    If an advertising obtains a broad consensus, but than nobody get to the supermarket and buy the product, it’s a failure.

    Advertising is the fine art of making you think you have longed for something all your life that you never heard of before

    Stefano P

  14. anonimo scrive:

    The quotation I choose is the Santayana’s one.
    It has a strong impact of me because I recognized the real purpose of Advertising: mask the truth showing only the better of the product sold.
    Advertising is an horrible mixture of distorted truths that disguise in actual fact the product’s features. Everything seems to be beautiful, magic and extremely precious even if is a simple shampoo or a detergent.
    The adressees are persuaded and conditioned, so they buy unconsciously.

    "Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read."     Burnett Leo


  15. anonimo scrive:

    I fully agree with Bill Cosby’s quotation, not just because I love him as actor, but especially because he summed up in few words the soul of marketing: what is sold, the product itself, the pure substance it is made of, have nothing to do with its advertising. What makes the difference for a successful ad in fact is the strength and the deepness of the idea and the image that are built around the product in order to appeal the consumers. Moreover the qualities and the characteristics of the subject are vane if the advertiser is not able to show its connotation: successful soaps, in our mind, do not just clean but PURIFY, a bowl of cornflakes is not just a breakfast but let you BE FIT and a car is no iron and gasoline at all, but the symbol of your POWER. Our society in fact is much more interested in the “delightfully vague” than in a “concrete promise”!
    In general, my children refused to eat anything that hadn’t danced on TV.”  ~Erma Bombeck

  16. anonimo scrive:

    I agree with the quotation of Samuel Johnson, “Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.” It is true, the majority of things that people buy, because they saw them on commercials, is useless. Of course, people would realize it, if they didn’t get “lost” and mesmerized by a magic, powerful and convincing advertisement. They sell the product with promises, by saying that you will lose weight in only three weeks, as the 80% of people tested did, you will get your face and cheeks invigorated, as the 82% of women did, and so on. But the fact that worries us is that ads actually work, people are persuaded, and in the end they do not achieve the aim the bought the product for. The advertising wins, obviously. People are too obsessed by the willing of being beautiful, bound to the best bank, etc. The advertiser takes for granted that people will trust him and unfortunately, people do not disappoint him.
    Sara T

  17. anonimo scrive:

    "Advertising is legalized lying" H.G. Wells

    I adore this quotation. He was right; if we think about what we see on TV, about what kind of advertisements the publicities company sell to us. These companies sell something that does not exists, they made us think that what they are giving us is something beautiful or tasty or simply unique and that we must have it, even if we have thousand of that “stuff”. But there is something that scare me a little bit: our law does not do nothing, they let advertisements “make fun” of costumers that buy what they commercialized without feel ashamed for that!   

  18. anonimo scrive:

    "Advertising is legalized lying" H.G. Well

    I adore this quotation. He was right; If we think about what we see on TV, about what kind of advertisements the publicities company sell to us. These companies sell something that does not exists, they made us think that what they are giving us is something beautiful or tasty or simply unique and that we must have it, even if we have thousand of that “stuff”. But there is something that scare me a little bit: our law does not do nothing, they let advertisements “make fun” of costumers that buy what they commercialized without feel ashamed for that!  

    “Living in an age of advertisement, we are perpetually disillusioned. The perfect life is spread before us every day, but it changes and withers at a touch.”   Joseph Priestley

    Chiara F.


  19. anonimo scrive:

    I read the quotes, and I found them all interesting and effective. However, I chose the quotation by Malcolm Muggeridge, because it deals with my individual exam project, too. I totally agree with him: advertising convinces people that they need, they urge a certain product to feel better, to live easier, to be a good husband, a good wife, a good mother. What makes advertising “evil” is the subtle way in which this message ( this need hidden inside people) is funneled; advertising “exploits” language, employs his persuasive function, to make people believe that that pair of jeans, rather than other, will make them slimmer, that listen to a certain kind of music will make them more popular.

    “Advertising is the man-made means to tease one another”


  20. anonimo scrive:

    i chose the following statement : ” Advertising is legalized lying. H.G.Wells “

    The achievement of advertising is  selling certain goods to people by lying about their real consistence, worth and functionality. This sort of “ lie” is the “ motor” of advertising. It is necessary because nowadays there are too many products on the mass market and the only thing which distinguish them from the others is their brand; therefore traders must invent some particular quality to persuade people to buy their product and their brand.

    I really fascinated by technique of advertising because I consider them a legalized way to slip over people, the most difficult but incisive way to control our mind. We are constantly bombarded by ad every day and every moment so much so we are addicted to them: they are became an integral part of our life. The following quotation may reflect what my opinion about advertising:

    Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

    Stephen Leacock


    Elisa Cat 

  21. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    Some of your comments really hit the point.  You mention stereotypes, the pressure placed on us as to what we should look like, what we should become in order to be part of the group (or shall we say the "HERD"!!!), the powerful role played by advertising in setting new "values" and deleting/questioning others.

    1. Does advertising really influence our intelligence negatively as the following quotation posted by Stefania suggests?
    Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.   Stephen Leacock  
    Would love to read your comments.

    2. Chiara raises another interesting point by posting this quotation:
    “Advertising is about norms and values, aspirations and prejudices. It is about culture”.
    So, advertising is about culture.  It is imbued with it and it creates new culture.  What do you think?

    3. Tiziana states that instead of worrying about the analysis of a commercial (use of soundtrack, use of colours, montage, perspective/viewpoint, etc.) we should focus more on the big LIES any form of advertising pass as truth.
    I agree with the core concept, but I think that in order to pass a LIE as a piece of TRUTH (and we all know that this is the case of advertising) it is still surprising to find out the genial devices used by the advertiser to sell lies and make money from them.  Personally I think that it is important to analyse an ad or a commercial in all its aspects/facets, because it is just by taking into consideration these subliminal choices that we can grow aware of them and thus learn to spot them automatically and then "defend" ourselves.  

    4. Valentina, I do not fully agree with you.  I do not think that everybody is "equipped" with the necessary "lens" to spot the lies present in advertising.  Think about children, or people who are easily gullible.  Think of teenagers, some of whom are really so weak in their beliefs or self-confidence that they may fall into the trap of some ads. 

    5. Stefano, thanks for drawing a comparison between advertising and literature and for pointing out the differences! (comment 13)

    6. Good point, Gloria.
    What to share the following with the others:
    Our society in fact is much more interested in the “delightfully vague” than in a “concrete promise”! “In general, my children refused to eat anything that hadn’t danced on TV.”  ~Erma Bombeck

    7. Chiara, you are making a good point when you say that the law should safeguard customers and thus control advertising at large a bit more seriously.  Unfortunately money wins over ethics. 

    8.  Chose by Alice: “Advertising is the man-made means to tease one another”

    I have not been able to write my comments as extensively as I had wished to.  Too much work lying behind!  Just a consideration: some of you seem to have worked with more dedication than others.  Remember that this blog is public and so you are exposing yourself by writing in it.  In other words you are making it clear to everybody whether you are dedicated or not to your area di progetto.  I am doing all this for you, not certainly for my own sake.  So if I DO find the time to read your comments and  write the posts, you will certainly understand that I expect ALL of you to work with commitment.   REMEMBER TO WRITE YOUR NAMES!!!

  22. anonimo scrive:

    According to me If I consider Advertising under the producer’s point of view I just think that I have to sell my brand. Therefore I have to convince people that my product is the best they can get ,and I don’t care if somebody is not able to spot a lie. On the other hand if I look be the eyes of consumers I just believe that this is not fair,that they are too cunning and have no scruples….. But who is right?The capitalist,who tries to make more money he can,or common people,who buy hope? In this world,in this society the producer wins. You have to be smart and more cunning than them,and you can’t be easily gullible. Taking the example of children,in my opinion is not right,because a child is obiously not able to buy toys or whatever he/she likes:is parents’s fault!
    I realize that this is not how it should be,but it is the way it is.

  23. anonimo scrive:

    I think Malcolm Muggeridge’s quotation is the bravest and most sincere one. I agree with him because he says that advertising is evil. It is evil for that it manipulates people’s minds and make them think of something that they would otherwise probably never think about. People are pushed to want things as if they were indispensable, invaluable. This contributes to make life commercial, frenetic,exaggarate and the goods that someone has reveal to be the only thing that matters. Life impoverishes and people do not even realize what’s happening. They waste their lives buying goods that they won’t ever use, filling their houses with useless, maybe expensive but worthless things.


    ~ Our society’s values are being corrupted by advertising’s insistence on the equation: Youth equals popularity, popularity equals success, success equals happiness. ~

    John Arbuthnot Fisher


  24. anonimo scrive:

    To me advertising creates new attitudes or new styles; maybe not only ads but also TV programs like “Zelig” or “Le Iene” influence a lot people’s attitudes. The quotation “In general, my children refused to eat anything that hadn’t danced on TV .” is necessary to understand this concept: generally young people are attracted by all things that are broadcast on TV and tend to imitate all testimonials’ attitudes: this creates new styles that are widespread and common between teenagers.

  25. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    Dear Valentina,

    I liked your expression “people who buy hope or the tycoon who wants to make money”.  You raised a good point: there is an invisible sort of pact between the seller and the buyer.  The seller analyses society and seems to foresee and thus impose needs, the seller wants to buy something to feel happier and to “suspend” reality for a moment.  It is a vicious circles, isn’t it?


  26. anonimo scrive:

    No! I think AD is a science, an extremely difficult science to understand and to study but it absolutely not arrest human intelligence. I think on the contrary that temptations, provocations  even the“ baits ” which ad sends us ,are something more that make us reflect  and think about it.
    A commercial does not oblige you to buy or to do something, it just tells you about a product.
    In my opinion ,advertising is like a drug, a cigarette… you know very well that drugs and smoke  are unhealthy and nobody obliges you to become addicted… and we do it the same!! so,  is ad which arrests human intelligence, or human intelligence which wants, and lets arrest itself by AD?!?
    And it is for this reason that AD creates new culture. It could be a high culture (with people who really know what an AD stands for), but unfortunately it could be also a law culture with people who become AD ADDICTED.(I hope I can use this terms).
    Jessica L.

  27. anonimo scrive:

    It is a sort of vicious circle: tycoons have always new ideas,new products,new brands and new challenges for consumers,for us. Sometimes,according to me,they go too far,they dare too much,and in this cases I don’t believe they hit it big. It can be dangerous for buyers because they want to keep up with the market and with the society;but I continue sticking to my opinion :is consumer who decides what to buy and what to believe.

  28. anonimo scrive:

    According to what I have said before, I would specify that analysing an ad as a whole is really important for every customer, but we have to take into account that a very few people reflect seriously upon a commercial before buying what it is advertised. I was referring to little elements that often influence us when we are doing the shopping: I notice there are a lot of pasta brands and which brand I am going to buy? The one that recalls me an ad I particularly liked on Tv, because the soundtrack was beautiful. So, unconsciously I am predisposed to buy it. It is an impulse difficult to control.
    In my opinion, the quotation posted by Stefania is relatively true: when we are watching an ad we could be emotionally involved, but human intelligence does not stop; it works always, in every circumstance. Evidently, there is a great possibility that ads gain over intelligence, but they must be very attractive in order to put to sleep our rationality.
    The quotation posted by Chiara is really interesting, but I disagree with it. The majority of ads has nothing to do with culture, because money and culture are not correlated.


  29. anonimo scrive:

    Dear Jessica,
    You can certainly use the term "ad addicted!.  It is your neologism, so just place it in " "!
    Tiziana, I like the fact that you refer to your classmates’ observations and comments. 
    Valentina, you made your point quite clearly!

    See you in class!

  30. anonimo scrive:

    I stick to the idea that advertising is making us want more and more, but this is a clear example of lie, because we can’t NEED something if we managed to live without it until now. In this way advertising is a sort of lie, the line between lie and truth is very subtle and it isn’t always easy to spot it. It has to appeal to our senses and cultures in order to trick us. Referring to what Valentina said, people aren’t always able to spot the lie, because ad can hit them in their critical points and hurt their sensitivity.

  31. Anna Reschiotto scrive:

    For me happiness means feel good with my self principally. But happiness has got lots of “face” like: freedom, love, beauty, good luck, health and many other… I feel happy when: I can sing because it’s my passion, I do my best (in general), when the weather is beautiful because It’s fantastic to wake up in a sunny day and so I can have good time with people that I love, however I feel good when I wear ..
    I feel good when my friends or my relatives are happy too, and meanly when they are happy because I’m able to help them! To help other people makes me happy, I feel enriched and important because I know I’ve done the right thing! when I can help my mum I feel an emotion that it’s unbelievable, it’s really more than happy but I don’t know how to explain.
    The phrase “you can’t have a rainbow without a bit of rain” for me means if you want the happiness, you will have to sacrifice your self a bit, because today “no one give you something” you have to earn every thing!
    however I think money can help you to much, but if you are the richest man in the world but you’re lonely, stupid, sick, all people hate you, you won’t be happy .
    Instead people who are poor have a great quality that every other person should envy: they live with simplicity! We should take them as example because our society is based on the consumerism and to be happy you have to do lots of thing, and more you have and more you want.
    I will post this phrase “I’M IN CHARGE OF HOW I FEEL AND TODAY I AM CHOOSING HAPPINESS” in my bedroom because I think I would start every day with a smile!
    My eighth step to the happiness is: BE LESS SELFISH, BE MORE GENEROUS!!