Something I really liked about Judith Williamson's article was how she acknowledged almost immediately that advertisements can not be avoided, even by those who do not watch television or read papers because "the images posted over our urban surroundings are inescapable". And she is not trying to argue or measure how much different people see advertisements, she is just making the blatant point that they are everywhere and they affect us, all of us. She says that advertisements have an agenda other than just to sell products, they create meaning. She describes this as not only using and recognizing the qualities required to sell us something, but also what those qualities mean to us, like a car with high mob meaning thriftiness or savings to the consumer, not just an efficient car. I found this point interesting because I think gives great perspective on something that happens in all ads. We are not just being sold an item; we are being sold an idea.
There was one idea in particular that stood out to me in the reading, and that was the ideas Williamson shared about products and our ability to buy things as a way we think about and determine class as consumers. She says manufactured goods work as a means of creating class and it is part of a need to feel a sense of belonging or a social place. I think this is very true, we measure our own and others wealth (socially and economically) often by "things". And I can see how advertisers play off this ideology and use it as a tool against consumers to sell us a product, or I suppose sell us a class or social standing. I suppose I had always realized this connection, but I think the author does a great job of putting into the perspective of advertisements and how that affects us.
This is why it is important for us to try and understand advertisements and how they may affect us, but in order to do so we must understand how and why they produce meaning and what they claim to say versus what they may actually say. I thought Williamson did a good job of explaining this, particularly with the Good Year ad and explaining how the image and staging were just as, if not more important to the ad's message than the actual tires or the written message.
Do you think these tactics used by advertisers to convince us to buy their products shows that companies have a good understanding of who their consumers and target audiences are and understand what we want? Do you think we find it flattering or noble that companies understand what we want or are they tricking us/using us as consumers? Do you think the customers are important to the companies or is it just about selling product?