COMM 100C

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

What do you think: Would an advertisement be more effective if it were hyperritualized, or hyperreal?

We know of the inevitability of advertisers to disguise the truth. Besides, that’s what the advertising industry is – devious persuasion.¬†According to Erving Goffman, this is called “commercial realism”, in which ads only display the positives in what they are advertising, and ultimately hyperritualize human activity.

Let’s take feminine care product advertisements as an example.

Being a woman that does experience that dreaded time of the month, I know for damn sure that my experience and the experience of all other women (unless you’re some kind of superhero) is NOTHING like depicted. We don’t prance around dancing, and we definitely don’t twirl around in skirts. One thing is guaranteed – we absolutely do not go for the white pants in our wardrobe. Why do ads illustrate such unrealistic situations – being extremely joyous on your period? I don’t think so.

I mean, of course we may be happy that the feminine product is working well. It’s offering comfort and protection. But that’s all the ad shows.

Now if this commercial turned into something hyperreal, we would face the bloody truth. The commercial would start off with a miserable woman in fetal position on her bed, accompanied by a heating pad on her abdomen to fight off the dreadful cramps. She would get up from bed and see something tragic – “Oh no! I’ve leaked through and it stained my white sheets!” Ladies, this situation is all too familiar. She would then begin crying at such miniscule things, but what seem to her as the end of the world.

If the advertisement was this brutally honest, wouldn’t the targeted consumers identify with the product more than they would if it was hyperritualized? This unanswered question can go in so many directions.

Advertisements affect people in variating levels. Some might find it wonderful that an ad displays the unfiltered truth, but some might find it a bit more comforting to continue viewing ads at their surface level. That’s why there’s so much controversy and banned commercials. Too much of the truth scares a consumer off, even though as buyers they want to product to promise them loyalty. Ironic, isn’t it?