The ideas and messages we as image makers communicate have a potential to reach millions of people, and as professionals we need to be aware of both the positive and negative consequences of the work we do. What are we as designers, photographers, and other creative professionals contributing with our work? Are we educating, informing, or simply manipulating? Ideally, ethics, education, and a certain sense of responsibility are integrated into each of our endeavors, but those things are often neglected for the sake of personal gain and prestige, and the goals of a client. Everyday, no matter where we turn, advertisements encourage us to buy, buy, buy. They create an artificial ideal of what we need in order to be happy, deliberately and systematically preying upon our hopes and fears for another dollar. We as a society have become so accustomed to these messages that we no longer question them. As the art director George Lois once said, "...advertising is a twentieth century love potion; it arouses wants beyond means, it invites extreme consumption, it conjures a material paradise as life's goal."(Lois and Pitts, p. 324) Wants and needs have become indecipherable as a result of advertising, which manipulates us into believing that success is defined by the number of things we own, the names they bear, and how expensive they are. But what price are we paying for accepting these notions? A consequence of this materialistic, self-indulgent lifestyle is consumerism, a social and economic practice that embraces the idea that there is never enough. It reflects not only a desire to possess things, but also a disregard for the true need, durability, and origins of goods and services. The global ramifications of manufacturing, buying, using, and disposing of these things, such as pollution, energy use, and social injustice, are essentially ignored in our culture for the sake of having what we want. Credit cards contribute greatly to consumerism because they not only allow us to buy all those wonderful things we don't need with money we don't have, they encourage it. Personal debt in this country has been growing exponentially in the last few decades because of increased credit card use, and the economy is reaching a breaking point as a result. Efforts are being made to reverse the trend in the media and even in Congress, where legislation has recently been considered. This thesis examines how advertising, design, and credit cards perpetuate over-consumption within our society, and is meant to encourage people to think twice about their own spending habits. In addition, this thesis questions those who help perpetuate consumerism in our society as professionals, and encourages them to think twice about their own role in the cycle.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Advertising--Credit cards; Advertising--Social aspects
Department, Program, or Center
School of Design (CIAS)
Jung, Yasmin, "Creating the consumer: Credit cards & the role of design & advertising" (2001). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus