For anyone interested, this presentation by Jon T. Jost is a brief introduction to System Justification Theory. If you have time I would advise researching deeper into the subject.
2 months ago I decided to do my research paper on this subject and I have learned a lot in regards to social psychology and ideology. Personally, I have become so interested in the subject I am considering pursuing a masters in the field.
Given the amount of money spent on advertising this presidential election cycle, I just wanted to take some time to write about the relentless amounts of advertising that was fed to the people.
Whenever one seeks to sell a product or service advertising plays a critical role in its success and the success of the business as well. Many of the goals in advertising go beyond simply “raising awareness” Instead the goals are more involved with altering perception of self and the environment in which one lives. Some goals include: shaping perceptions of the product/service, reinforcing the brand idea, creating illusory needs, or clarifying points of differentiation. It should be noted that the goal is never to reveal the whole truth just the parts that will be perceived to be beneficial to the target audience. Advertising seeks to poeticize reality.
A target audience is always selected before any creative is made. Everything that is created centers around the the target audience. The lifestyle, culture, psychology, education level, and economic conditions of the target audience are all taken into account. Messaging (copy) and imagery utilizing affective language is then crafted. The language used must always speak in a voice that the audience understands while at the same time falling in line with the established business objectives.
In regards to political advertising all one has to do is replace the term business with ideology and the term product with politician. The goal in this case is not to simply raise awareness for the politician rather it is to reinforce the system of ideas that politician represents. The methods do not change; broadcasting facts in context is never the goal.
In my opinion advertising needs to be banned from political campaigns. Although this would of course take money away from the creative industry it is necessary. The spending is completely wasteful for the presidential campaigns. Alone, there was around 1 billion spent for two of the candidates that were running for POTUS. If we expand the scope to the senate there was around 6 billion spent. The advertisement campaigns have done little to nothing as far as helping to create better informed voters. Instead we have voters who are committed to sensationalism and locked in their ideology as opposed to the few who take time to research facts about the many presidential candidates. To create a strong society it is necessary that the individuals in that society have motivation and access to information regarding their government. What advertising does is suppress the motivation to seek truth as the individual feels they have already found “truth” through the relentless nonsense that has been fed to them.