Despite arguments for and against, advertising clearly has an impact on both the phenomena of consumerism and its effects on developing countries. Consumerism has created different expectations and measures of happiness and success based on the possession of products.

Critics of consumerism in developing countries complain that consumer culture has replaced national culture. They further charge that on the micro level money needed for subsistence is squandered on products like tobacco and soft drinks while at the macro level scarce national resources are squandered for the production, promotion, and consumption of products that are not needed by consumers in developing markets.


Proponents of advertising point out that the purpose of advertising does not include imposing harmful images, nor does it claim an unnecessary promotion of product consumption. It does promote competition, innovation, and the freedom of choice. It stimulates the economy by encouraging consumption and has the potential to improve the standard of living in developing countries. Importantly, international advertising is, whether it is transmitted from American corporations or local consumer-driven establishments, a form of commercial speech that owns the same rights as any other format of speech as outlined in the valued tenets of democracy.

In order for developing countries to be protected and the freedom of speech to be preserved it is important that government, consumer interest groups, and advertising organizations work together.


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Last Updated December 5, 2002
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