26 JANUARY 1962, Page 10

done, Brian Copland! It is Many years since the thesis

he offers was made into mincemeat but it is still confidently ofiered whenever .advertising is criticised.

Mr. Copland: 'Advertising men know that it is very difficult 'indeed to inform and persuade.' Quite so.

lipw many cigarette, washing powder, aspirin, cos- metic or instant coffee ads inform? And how can you persuade (I mean persuade, not threaten, implore or hypnotise) if you decline to inform?

Mr. Copland: 'People are not . . . just "con- sumers."' But we should try to remember that the purpose of ads for mass-produced goods is to eliminate objective considerations of quality or utility in favour of passive acceptance. Advertising, as any good ad- man will tell you, offers not goods but states of mind. It rarely confronts us at a level at which the ability to. reason and select has any relevance at all.

The sick thing about most consumer goods advertis- ing is not that it tells obvious, lies about crucially important facts. but that it breeds disrespect for truth and is defiling our language. My five-year-old daughter sometimes watches the children's pro- grammes on ITV. Not once but many times she has asked if this or that preposterous claim made for products in the advertising breaks is true. When I tell her; no, she naturally asks why the announcer is a liar. Perhaps, in order to impart to my daughter what Mr. Copland refers to as 'a sense of proportion' (and what others might refer to as an inability to tell -black from white) I should assure her that this type of distortion is known as poetic licence. If this is the case, what kind of persOn am I teaching her to be—a copywriter?

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