Actually, marketing in the contemporary world has pretty much ceased to have anything to do with extolling the virtue
s of a product
, and rather has everything to do with presenting a lifestyle fiction
. It is an attempt to make potential consumers feel that their personality
life / family
life / friendship
s will be complete with a certain product, or more precisely incomplete without it.
Almost no ads, save for those at 4am for the latest Ron Popeil invention, actually tout the benefits of a certain product in the way PyramidHead outlines above. What ads do mostly is present images of people - complete happy beautiful fictional people with unobtainable unreal lives - images that have the effect of making potential consumers feel anxious and defective when confronted with their own less than perfect state by comparison. If the marketing is successful, the consumers then sub-consciously desire the product in order to pathetically strive for the unobtainable fictional state presented.
So it can be said that the purpose and function of marketing is to make and keep potential consumers unhappy and anxious, and the more successful a marketing campaign, the more unhappy and anxious it will make the public.
A consummate example is the marketing of SUVs. By any account, these are terrible automobiles to own. The fuel economy is atrocious, they are prone to rolling over and bursting into flames, and insurance rates are sky high. For the purposes that 95% of their owners use them, i.e. hauling kids around to soccer practice, a mini van would be a much safer and more cost effective option. However, the actually qualities of the vehicles are not the features of the ads. Rather, marketers have homed in on a particular vulnerability of the demographic group that would potentially drive them. In this demographic group, although their narrow pathetic lives consist solely of commuting to mind numbing jobs and driving screaming kids around, they like to see themselves as having other qualities. Thus the SUV is marketed as an 'off road' vehicle that exciting-type people who like camping and mountain biking would drive, and the consumers who purchase them do so in an attempt to complete their defective self-image in such a way by association, even though they never use the vehicles for that purpose.