William’s chapter “Advertising: The Magic System” is an interesting blend between politics and media analysis. The article starts strong by introducing the creation of advertisements and explaining how they have managed to worm their way into almost every facet of media. From there the text devolves into an analysis over consumerism and its two forms in a socialistic market and a democratic market. Right before this shift happens however, Williams mentions an interesting topic, that being the Magic of Advertisements. Williams describes the magic of advertisements to be “a highly organized and professional system of magical inducements and satisfactions” (705). This lengthy statement can be broken down into two parts: an emotional link to a product, and making the audience believe they need a product.
The overall goal of an emotional link to a product is to make the advertisement appear beneficial for those watching, and as such many such advertisements go out of their way to create a morality inspiring commercial. These kinds of commercials aim to teach the audience a morale lesson or remind them how they are “supposed” to act in public. A great example of these kinds of commercials can be found from coke advertisements:
In this short one minute clip, we are introduced to a young boy and his older brother. Throughout the clip, the older brother teases the younger sibling, constantly causing him minor inconveniences. However near the end of the clip, when the younger sibling has his Coca Cola stolen from him by a few school bullies, the older sibling steps up to his duties and protects the younger sibling, and of course returns the soda. As a final act of tease to his younger sibling, he makes the sibling spill a bit of coke on his face while drinking, but as the older sibling walks away, we are left to see the younger sibling with a bright smile on his face. This commercial is meant to serve as a reminder of how families are meant to behave, with jokes and small teases being acceptable, but also standing up for one another. Other than the Coca Cola outro in the end, Coca Cola’s are placed through this clip, making it seem like this is the family’s main choice of drink. In doing this, it suggests that a morale family drinks Coca Cola, and satisfies a piece of the magic of advertisement that Williams suggests to exist.
William’s second form of magic covers the art of an advertisement making the viewer feel they “need” a product. A great example of these kinds of advertisements are medicinal commercials, which create/isolate a problem and then introduce their brand as the cure.
In this advert, we are quickly introduced to a woman playing with children, which we can then assume that she is their mother. The woman is taken down by the children, and as she falls shows a face of great pain. We are then introduced to the product, Aleve, and moments after we are again shown the woman gaining strength and resuming play with the children. This audience is pushed to believe that thanks to the product of Aleve, this woman was able to spend time with her children, instead of just withering away in pain. It strongly suggests that without its aid, the audience won’t be able to enjoy life and as such markets its product as a tool to make life more enjoyable. The advertisers in this commercial create the isolate the need of the audience, a way to deal with pain, and upscale the problem, in dong this they suggest their product as the salvation of said problem. They follow the second form of magic suggested by William, that of artificially creating a need and then fulfilling that need with their product