Difference between Propaganda and Advertising

In this modern age of technology and multimedia, it has become very easy for people to be influenced by things they know nothing about just because they are presented in such a manner that they become appealing and desirable. Big brands and products benefit from this aspect of technology and multimedia and influence consumers by employing various strategies and tactics.

Advertising and propaganda are two of the strategies most commonly used by people in sales and marketing and they use them very subtly to influence our choices.


Propaganda vs Advertising
Propaganda in North Korea

Propaganda is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, commonly used to promote a political cause or point of view. It is a systematic activity which reflects a particular set of ideas that are being promoted due to some vested interest.

Advertising is the activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services. It can also be defined as the activity of attracting public attention to a product or business, as in paid announcements in the print, broadcast, or electronic media.

Propaganda vs Advertising

What is the difference between propaganda and advertising? In today’s world, excessive use of technology and unfair methods have made the line between propaganda and advertising very blurred, but if we look closely and study both these terms, there is a wealth of difference between them and it is important to explore the difference between them and understand what they both represent.

Propaganda is all about distorting facts and adding false statements to promote a political ideology or sell products, encouraging people to believe things which might not all be true or correct. It would not be wrong to call propaganda a way of conveying information and ideas that has been manipulated in such a way that it benefits the creators of the propaganda. In most cases, propaganda is put out in support of some specific cause and it is not important if the information that is being provided is beneficial to others or not.

On the other hand, advertising is the way to show off products and services and present them in such a way that they look good and consumers are attracted towards them. There are many who say that propaganda and advertising are similar but they are not, because while advertising is all about presenting things which exist and just need to be made accessible to consumers, propaganda is making up something which may not even exist for the sole reason of selling an ideology.

Propaganda makes things look good with just the right use of words and persuades people to do things that they might not do otherwise by influencing them, even distorting the facts and adding false statements on the way. Advertising, on the other hand, does not distort truth or add false statements because it would be ruining its brand power and consumers are not likely to trust a brand which deceives them. Even though many advertising tactics include propaganda, it is important to know that they do not work out in the long run, and the advertisers run the risk of being accused of false advertising, and therefore suffering a setback once they are exposed.

Comparison Chart 

Propaganda Advertising
Propaganda is one directional communication that promotes a particular point of view or a political cause. Advertising is all about promoting commercial goods and services and trying to create consumer need.
Propaganda is not so much about selling products or services but is more about changing the ideas or attitudes of people regarding some particular person or subject. Advertising is showing off the products or services in a better way so people like them enough to buy them. 
Propaganda can be presented regarding any issue but it might not help people, other than those presenting the propaganda. Advertising is meant to help people as a solution to all their problems.
Propaganda does not care about the end results, or whether it would benefit people or not. Advertising wants to make things better for people so that they continue using the products for a long time.
Propaganda makes use of hyperbole to and shape and influence opinions and social trends. Advertising only works to highlight the qualities present in a product or service to sell them.