|Night and “Dey”
While commercial advertisements intend to promote businesses and products, medical and political publicity bombard Americans with false ideas and should be regulated in television.
“Good morning gentlemen. Please have a seat.”
The men filed into the room and seated themselves around the long table, eager for today’s business proposal. The rectangular room with glass windows stood still in the hum of the busy city. They were 100 stories up, the whir of cars and chatter of crowds could not be heard from above, but still the windows yielded a glimpse of the frantic scene. Mr. Dey, the chairman of advertising at the ATV Network arranged the meeting today:
“I shouldn’t take too much of your time. As you well know, ATV Network is always a proud and loyal sponsor to its enterprises. Sometimes in networking, we focus so much on money, that we are blinded by the impact we have on people lives. What I mean is we tend to look for what’s in it for us, rather than how it will effect our public. It is for this reason that we at ATV network have unanimously concluded that reforms in the means of advertisement would be beneficial to both the public and media. We need to look beyond the monetary expenses of what makes a healthy, fairer, more efficient nation. In a couple of weeks our network will be upgrading. We will be changing our name, renovating the news studio, broadcasting more TV and talk shows, and regulating the advertisements. The latter is what will affect all of you most. This fresh start will allow us to put our new ideas into play. If you wish to continue to be broadcasted by this network, you will have to make the corresponding changes.
Advertising permeates all aspects of urban industrial society (Stefan 1). Whether you are driving down the highway, browsing online, reading the newspaper, or recording your favorite TV show, you are always surrounded by the advertising bubble. A lot of social stigma against commercials has formed over time. Whether it is too much airtime between shows, or controversial messages hidden within an ad, it is hard to steer clear of public resentment. Our goal is to make our public happy, not so we get more money, but so that we actually improve television and people’s perception of advertising as a whole. In all honesty, our jobs are difficult, but you are all experts as I am. Today we hope to alter the path of advertising. In the advertisement industry, we inform individuals and businesses of what products, services, and ideas are available for purchase (Stefan 1). In some cases, people forget that this is the goal of advertising. Commercial enterprises for the most part do a great job of promoting products. They use colors, characters, and more to make their product seem like the best one, without degrading other businesses. Advertisements can help a business establish an identity and a reputation, which brings me to my next point (Hamel, 1). We don’t really see a lot of direct attacks on other products in commercials today, except for small rivalries like the one between Apple and Samsung. Rivalries like that do not dominate the commercial arena though. Also, advertising laws protect our consumers against false ads which improves the information they receive, but to a certain degree (Hamel, 2). I will discuss this later on. Our main concerns today focus on medical and political publicity.
In medicine, we have found that Americans are taking more prescription meds now than ever with nearly 16 million scripts written for painkillers each year. Medical advertisements are some of the most important ads people will see because they inform consumers that there is help for what ails them (Carroll 1). In this industry, one does not only advertise for a business, but also forms a “direct-to-consumer market” (Veronese, 3) with the public, over health matters. These brands have a big responsibility towards the American people, which I believe is overlooked by both individual businesses and networks all over the country. Last week, I read an interesting article in the New York Times, written by professor of family medicine and community health, Kurt Stange. Reading through it carefully, I can’t say I agree with everything the professor had to say, but one quote in particular caught my eye. He stated, "The complex decision to start a long-term medication should be motivated by the observations of teachers and parents and children -- not stimulated by rosy ads" (Stange 1). I agree with Stange that people should seek professional assistance in health matters when they are ill. I think what Stange is saying is that too many people think they need a medication because they show symptoms of an illness that a drug advertised on TV claims can heal them. If the attitude that, “I saw that ad on television, I think I should take that medicine," (Carroll 2) is what runs through people’s minds today, which I believe in some cases it is, then a warning flag should go up in our direction to make some changes. How can we go about changing medical advertising without running people out of business, but most importantly without further harming consumer health? Studies show that new drugs that feature direct-to-consumer advertising are prescribed nine times more than those that lack the consumer advertising (Veronese 5). The success of your companies may depend on advertising, but the health of society depends on your products. If you want to be sponsored by this network, your medical advertisements will have to meet the following requirements. First, all advertisements must be based on scientific evidence. We cannot just endorse your product because you give us money. Ads should be informed and informative. If I am going to support your business, I need to know that what you are selling has been researched and tested. Your drugs must be FDA approved and/or backed by clinical trials to ensure that the whole truth is conveyed to the public. It is essential that the public receives accurate information in regards to their health. Bombarding them with drugs that may not work is not safe and/or good for the general public.
Not only the consumers are impacted but also doctors who have to prescribe these medications. It puts physicians under a new kind of pressure. If I'm a doctor and I want to keep you as my patient and you come to me asking for Drug X, if giving you the prescription keeps you happy, I might just give it to you like that (Veronese 4). This dependence on drugs in America has grown immensely over time. Another study by Mr. Stange brought him to conclude that advertising provokes a subtle shift in our culture toward seeking a pill for every ill. Too often, a pill substitutes for more human responses to distress (Stange 1). All we want to do is help lower this dependency on drugs. Let us do our part to get people on a healthier track. We want to turn medical advertising from a consumer market, into a market of information. As you can see, restricting the domain of medical publicity is essential for the nation’s health.
Our next area of improvement is in political campaigns and how we broadcast those. Essentially, political ads should inform people of candidates running for office, and their plans. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. I read this review the other day by a former Star Tribune reporter named Eric Black complaining about our network’s campaign ads saying, “If you watch TV during campaign season, the commercial break teems with political attack ads; 30-second assaults on your emotions, generally designed to bypass your rational mind with anecdotal out of context evidence, scary music, shaky cameras, weird bursts of light and deep-voiced narrative or swanning of terrible consequences you and your loved ones will suffer if Candidate X or Y gets elected or wins another term” (Black 1). Now that is a very strong opinion. Black focuses on how negative campaign ads are which supports our claim that political advertising has a very different focus than commercial ads do. Politicians in these campaigns often promote the weakness of their competition rather than directly advertising what they themselves stand for. The amount of time these ads get on tv is determined by the amount of money the politician is able to raise for the campaign. Overall, it's estimated that six billion dollars were spent on all national elections (Robinson 1). Six billion dollars! ‘How does this differ from commercial ads,’ one may say. ‘Don’t all people have to pay for advertisements?’ As I stated above, commercial ads promote a product without demoting other brands and people. In politics, this is a different story. If money pollutes the political process, it is probably safe to assert that the more money candidates have to raise, the more polluted the process becomes. (Robinson 1) With this in mind, we concluded that all politicians running in a campaign will receive 30 minutes of free airtime a day. This way everyone is restricted to a time limit, and the competition is based on the quality of an individual’s ideas, not the amount of time he or she can buy on the airways. Not only does this allow a level playing field for politicians, it also lets campaign runners use their money otherwise. Making it a free public service is in the best interest of our viewers, which is required by the Federal Communications Commission (Robinson 2). Hopefully we will reduce negative attacks toward campaign ads and improve the running system for politicians.
Ultimately our goal is to redesign the media we broadcast so as to help the community. Our policies may seem a little far fetched but we believe that with your compliance we can improve the general welfare of the people. Yes, it means a large loss of revenue for our television network, but that is a truth we have already accepted. The big picture here is building the foundation to a more influential and truthful network by changing the way we broadcast medical and political advertisements.
Looks like we’ve gone a little bit over time, I apologize. I want to thank you all for choosing ATV Network and we hope to continue supporting you. Does anyone have any questions?”
The room was quiet. So quiet that you could hear the muffled honks and tire screeches of the bustling cars below. The businessmen had a lot to think about in the days to come, but the prospect introduced to them did not seem as far fetched as Mr. Dey had thought. To put the needs of the public over those of their growing industries in theory seemed easy, but in reality was like walking into a dark maze without a flashlight. You know where you’re going, but getting there poses the problem. How difficult would turning back be if you regret the path you have chosen? To help their growing industries, or to put the needs of the public first. Yes, these men needed time. Quietly and in an orderly fashion, they rose from their seats, thanked Mr. Dey, and exited slowly in a sea of black suits.
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Stefan, Tracey. "Advertising vs. Propaganda." Small Business. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 01
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