Advertising: A Tool of Social Change: Definition and Functions of Advertising

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  • The word advertising has been derived from the Latin word “advert ere” which means “to turn towards something.”
  • Advertising is a form of marketing communication that is used to promote or sell something, usually a product or a service.


According to American Marketing Association, Chicago, (1963) “Advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of goods, services or ideas by an identified sponsor.”


  • “Any paid form” : The space or time for an advertising message is generally bought.
  • “Non-personal presentation and promotion” : Advertising is totally non-personal, offering no personal interaction which is delivered through mass media.
  • “Goods, ideas or services” : Advertising is a powerful mass communication tool which is not only used to present and promote goods and services, but also to promote goals of public interest and social causes.
  • “An identified sponsor” : Sponsor of ideas or opinions is known in advertising.

Functions of Advertising

Functions of Advertising

Freud՚s Explanation of Human Mind

Three Layers of Mind:

  • Conscious Mind (immediate memories, active at present)
  • Pre-Conscious Mind (accessible memories)
  • Subconscious Mind (drives, instincts, traumas, painful emotions, beliefs, previous experiences)

What Does Advertising Do?

  • The advertisements are the amalgamations of the conceptions picked from the society.
  • Advertisements, at times, manipulate the cultural, economic, physical and social needs by producing and provoking hope in the minds of the audience.
  • Advertising aims at consumers՚ subconscious minds much more than their conscious minds.

Advertising as a Tool of Social Change

  • Advertising is an act to advertise a product, service or an idea in order to promote it for enhancing the brand image or to increase the sales.
  • It is so designed and created that it thereby makes an effort to create an effect in the society.
  • Advertising plays a very huge and significant role in shaping our society  —  the way we see, think, understand and act to certain things.
  • The advertisements pick the particular popular culture and then do everything in order to appeal and catch the fantasy of the audience.
  • They create the need in the minds of the customers.
  • They arouse desires with the help of storylines, visuals, dialogues, characters, music, etc.


Ariel-Share the Load

The ad campaign “Share the load” by one of the popular detergent brands “Ariel” tries to breakdown the stereotype of washing of clothes by the ladies of the home. It promotes sharing of household load by both the partners as is being carried on in professional lives and at workplaces.

Tanishq Jewellery- The Double Knot

The ad breaks two taboos: the notion that a beautiful bride must be light-skinned as is always preferred in Indian society and that divorced or widowed women should not remarry.

Havells-Hawa Badlegi

Advertisement shows a family asking their maid to join them at the dining table for dinner after she serves the food. The other film shows a newly married couple at a marriage registrar՚s office, where the husband explains to the official that he will adopt his wife՚s surname.

Samsung Note 4 Dad and Daughter Commercial

Picks up the issue of making the child ready for school by her father instead of mother.


  • Advertisements pick certain issues from the society and then try to make a change and eradicate them with the help of effective storylines, visuals and music.
  • They make an attempt to rupture all the things which are being continued in the society from years even after the technological advancements, developments in the society and industrialization where women are known as to be the second half of the societal issues.
  • These advertisements are so designed that they touch the inner emotions and heart of the target audience thereby influencing and convincing them for the change thus exhibited in the advertisement.
  • The audience when watch these advertisements on television, start comparing and analyzing themselves with the characters they watch. They also get emotionally attached to the characters subconsciously by their role played in it and then focus on the actions and mold their own thoughts about the particular issue.
  • Hence, it can be said that advertising acts as an agent of social change.

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