The purpose of advertising is to get out a message, to convince people of what you want them to believe. In commercial ads, you expect that this message will lead to sales, but many ads are obviously more about putting the company’s message out there than about encouraging sales.
For instance, the ads for prescription drugs where they praise the benefits and features of a particular item for about 10 seconds and warn about the possible side effects for 50 seconds. If your ad spends 5 times as long telling us why your product could harm us as it spends telling us why we should buy it, the ad’s purpose is not to generate sales. It’s to undermine future lawsuits. (“See? We warned them and they still did it anyway. It’s their fault they had these bad side effects. “)
Besides, why do we need ads for prescription drugs? Aren’t doctors supposed to prescribe the best available options? Is that not why they went to medical school – so they could give us medical advice and prescribe treatments?
In the political realm, whatever a politician campaigns on is more about the message that they want their voters to hear than it is any sort of indication of what they will do once they are in office.
For instance, Barak Obama campaigned in favor of transparency and said mandates would never work in health insurance, yet his administration has been the least transparent one in recent history and has prosecuted whistle-blowers more than any of his predecessors — and Obamacare has mandates as a key element. None of this is surprising, as his time in office can only really be understood by looking at whose money he accepted when running and whose money the GOP is taking now.
In fact, whose money is involved explains the content and purpose of most ads. No one spends money on advertising without a purpose in mind. Political campaigns are just a more-annoying, less-obviously-commercial form of advertising.
Don’t accept the story that ads are selling you without verifying that story through multiple outside sources. Question the ads and see if they are lies that reflect only what the advertiser wants you to think — or true statements of what is real. Most of the time, you’ll see that corporate ads are a mixture of lies and spin, with just a pinch of truth. Many times, you will see that the truth is the exact opposite of whatever the ad said.