In order for us to realize how commercials manage to wash our brains, the first thing we have to start with is to stop watching TV for a longer period of time, and then try and notice a lot of details in the behavior of those who still watch TV.
Commercials are meant to make you think you are in great need of the product they present and try to make successful. As a means of communication, advertising does more than just giving information. It attempts to persuade people to buy the product and services belonging to a certain brand. The idea is to convince all potential customers to choose. How do companies do that? Certainly by creating the so-called "brand image" which gives way to "brand loyalty". It has something to do with giving people a somewhat feeling of identity, a sense of belonging. In order to achieve their purpose, they use a lot of psychological elements. Advertisements appear on all kinds of medium: magazines, cinemas, newspapers, billboards, video games, and Internet. And advertising is done by an advertising agency for a certain company.
Commercials have been used since ancient times. For instance, Egyptians made use of papyrus to make up sales messages and putting up posters on walls. Also, in the ruins of Pompeii and ancient Arabia, there have been discovered some advertising messages and political propaganda texts. At any rate, this tradition of painting the walls goes back to the year of 4000 BC.
Commercials were used, also back in medieval times, when cities and towns were slowly beginning to develop all over Europe. Still, very few people could read, so there were no words on the street signs, but rather shapes for instance of a boot, of a suit, a miller, a tailor, a smithy, a shoe, candle, or a bag of flour.
Like in the markets today, fruits and vegetables were sold in the square of the city from the backs of wagons, and people would advertise their products by simply calling out loud for customers to find them and buy their goods. After that, education grew more popular, and began to be regarded as an important need for people in all walks of life. Because of that, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and after that, commercials began to include written part in them. Then, later on, in the following centuries, weekly newspapers started to publish plenty of advertisements. Back in those days, they would promote books and newspapers, as well as medicines that were needed greatly due to the increase of diseases all across Europe.
Then the commercial industry developed, and we ended up with the all-over-present TV commercials. TV is regarded as the most efficient means for promoting commercial products. Indeed, prices charged by TV networks for advertising airtime during their popular shows or movies, are extremely high. In this respect, the most representative event is the American Super Bowl. A single thirty-second TV spot during the game costs no less than $2.7 million (in the year of 2007).
Most TV commercials have a song or a jingle that can catch the viewers' attention, and that listeners can relate to. The very first singing commercial belongs to General Mills, broadcasted on the radio. The jingle is entitled "Have You Tried Wheaties?", and it first appeared in 1926, at Christmas time. The song was sung by male artists, who afterwards gained the name of "The Wheaties Quartet". And here are the "lyrics" to this song: "Have you tried Wheaties?/They're whole wheat with all the bran./Won't you try Wheaties?/For wheat is the best food of man."
Such exaggerations are typical in commercials, which try to convince us that we simply cannot go on living without their advertised products. And so we end up buying things we don't really need. We are not what we buy, our true identity is not given by any material thing, and we should not fall prey to the temptation of buying an endless list of useless items.