Are Advertisements Just Empty Promises?

As I sit here writing my posts for the week, I’m enjoying a can of Coke. And of course, it’s one of the white cans with the little polar bears on it… a constant reminder to me that the ice in the Arctic is melting, leaving more and more polar bears without suitable habitat to survive. But at least Coke is doing something about it – it says so on the can. They’re planning to donate 2 million dollars to the WWF over the next few years. So I should probably continue to drink more because they’re planning to help out those sweet little polar bears.


Wait – aren’t polar bears vicious top-predators? And what on earth is Coke planning to do to protect their habitat? Did I, an ecologist with six years of higher education, fall prey to advertising?

Oh yes. And, quite frankly, it happens all the time.

Advertising is all around us. And it’s shocking how far retailers will go these days to trigger an emotional reaction to get us, the consumer, to purchase their product. I’ve found myself buying products because they support breast cancer, provide shoes to people in undeveloped countries, and even because they make environmental/fair-trade claims. But how much of this is true? Am I just being played?

I’d hate to think that someone is taking advantage of my good intentions. 

But what can I do to protect myself from falling prey to advertisement?  I think the only way to protect yourself is to stop and think about the product. Would you buy it regardless of the advertisement? Are you just trying it because of the advertisement? Is it affiliated with a well-known organization?

The whole purpose of sales is to make as much money as possible – so keep this in mind when you see a pledge to support your favourite fuzzy creature. Don’t let adverting make a fool of you.


Do you find yourself being taken in by advertisements? How do you protect yourself?





6 thoughts on “Are Advertisements Just Empty Promises?

  1. I mute the adverts on TV or the jingles become horrendous earworms! I’m the kind of person who questions everything, although sometimes I do try a new product because of an ad. Not usually entirely believing it though, almost more to the extent of distrusting branded things because most of the price is hype. I buy the unbranded version of most things, unless I have discovered I prefer the taste of the brand, or it does actually work better.

    Fairtrade is a tricky one though. I do buy Fairtrade and get very cross with my husband when he gets non-Fairtrade coffee because it’s cheaper. I figure we can afford the small price difference more easily than the people being exploited can! It’s a simple moral issue to me. And if a manufacturer is trading fairly, they jolly well ought to say so if they want to sell stuff! So I tend to assume that if they don’t say it, they don’t do it. It is a minefield, but the more people insist on fairly traded products, the more that will become the norm.

    1. I absolutely agree with you on fairtrade products- although I’m now interested in better understanding what fairtrade certification entails – perhaps a future blog post!

      Nice tip about muting advertisements too :)

  2. That example is especially ironic, considering the environmental damage of aluminum manufacturing and Coca-Cola’s history of corporate imperialism. We call it “Greenwashing” down here, and it is insidious indeed. Funny thing is, though: once you notice it, you can’t un-notice it, and of course then you can hit the brakes.

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