Difference Between Advertising and Propaganda

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: October 01, 2023


Difference Between Advertising and Propaganda

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Advertising and Propaganda are powerful tools for influencing the general public. They are both used in media. They are very closely related in meaning as both of them serve as influencing tools, but they are significantly different in how they influence. Moreover, they are also related in their origin as both of them emerged around the time of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. This is because, at that time, the Industrial Revolution had already taken place, and there was a huge rise in production. Various political matters like the World War were important at that time. 

Advertising is a paid marketing strategy used in businesses to promote a particular product or service among the general public by giving information about its features and uses. It is related to promoting products and services and is a marketing communication used by the media. Propaganda, on the other hand, is a type of communication that persuades and manipulates the general public ideologically to make them do something. It is not related to promoting any products or services but instead manipulates people into doing something by putting a focus on their beliefs and behavior.

Advertising vs Propaganda

Advertising is a marketing communication used by the media. It is a type of message that is used for promoting the products and services of a particular business by providing the specifics of the products and services. It is unbiased because it is factual, as it only promotes products and services by providing facts about them, urging people to buy those products and services. Propaganda, however, is a persuading message used to manipulate people into doing something by focusing on their ideologies, beliefs, and behavior. It is biased because it tends to favor a particular belief more than others and urges people to do the same by providing them with false stories and lies. It can be related to promoting, but it is not promoting any products,. Rather it is promoting specific beliefs. However, propaganda and advertising can be blended to produce biased advertisements that promote products and services along with spreading a manipulative message. Whatever the message is, advertising just makes it reach a wider audience.

Difference Between Advertising and Propaganda in Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonAdvertisingPropaganda
MeaningAdvertising is just a marketing technique used by business enterprises to promote their products and services by mentioning their specifics.Propaganda is a form of persuasive communication that is not used for marketing any products or services but for marketing ideologies and beliefs. It influences and manipulates people into achieving some specific purpose.
AimThe primary aim of advertising is marketing products and services and influencing and urging people to buy them.The main aim of propaganda is to persuade and manipulate people to favor one idea or belief over the other.
Places Where it is UsedAdvertising is mainly used in the market to promote certain products or services of businessesPropaganda is manipulative and persuasive communication and is used in every sphere of life, be it political, economic, or social sphere. But mainly the political sphere is full of propaganda-based activities.
Kind of InformationFactual and unbiased.Biased because the facts here are manipulated and distorted.
ResultsAdvertising leads to an increase in the sale of products and services.Propaganda is manipulative, so, it leads the public to believe that one idea is better than the other.

What is Advertising?

Advertising is a marketing communication method that has the basic purpose of promoting a particular product or service of a business enterprise in the market and persuading and influencing people to respond to it by those products and services. It intends to increase the sale of products and services of a particular enterprise. It falls among the four marketing keys, and its communication process is persuasive but is non-personal. During the seventeenth century, in London's weekly newspapers, advertisements first received place, and by the eighteenth century, they were considerably used. However, the first advertising agency was established only in the nineteenth century. Advertising agencies at that time acted as brokers for providing space for advertisements in newspapers. By the twentieth century, advertising agencies started producing copies and artworks, amongst other advertising messages.

Advertisements are mainly used by businesses to publicize their goods and services. They are a medium for spreading information far and wide. But advertisements can be used for promoting causes, charities, any social message, and also political candidates. Here, in this case, sometimes propaganda can be used in advertising. Propaganda is promoting a particular belief or idea over another by manipulating people to believe that and achieve a specific purpose. Advertisements can be simply used to spread this message far and wide amongst the public, which may also be done along with promoting certain products or services. For, in propaganda advertising, a product can be promoted through advertising where the message disseminated can be indirect. This happens when the media forms are corrupted thus using propaganda for advertising. Advertisements, even if fact-based, are designed in a visually appealing way to attract customers to buy a company's products and services because facts are not enough for promotion, and the presentation also needs to be beautiful. Advertisements are a significant source of income for media in many countries, and due to advertisements, the cost of subscribing to something also decreases.

Types of Advertisements

There are several types of advertisements available today and they can be divided into two types namely:

  • Traditional Types of Advertising
  • Modern Types of Advertising

Traditional Types of Advertising

Traditional types of advertising include those mediums of advertising that have been used since the early times when advertising came into existence. Traditional forms of advertising are not targeted and can be seen by all types of people. Some of the types of traditional advertising include: -

  • Print Advertising
  • Television Advertising
  • Radio Advertising

Print Advertising

Print advertising can be said to be the oldest form of advertising, used since the origin of advertisements. It includes advertising through newspapers and magazines which have been used by people from the early times. It also includes flyers and brochures, which are new forms of print media used nowadays. They are not as old as newspapers and magazines.

Television Advertising

Television advertising can be considered the king of all types of advertising because it includes both audio and visual forms of advertising. Television advertising is also very costly due to its effective nature. Jingles and highly visually appealing graphics are used for this form of advertising.

Radio Advertising

Radio advertising is also one of the oldest forms of advertising and comes after newspapers in age. When radios started becoming more popular as entertainment mediums, businesses realised its potential as an advertising medium.

Modern Types of Advertising

This kind of advertising includes those mediums of advertising that have emerged nowadays. They are more targeted forms of advertising, unlike traditional advertising. Some of the types of modern advertising are: -

  • Online Advertising
  • Covert Advertising

Online Advertising

The Internet has rapidly grown over the last few decades, and with this, the number of Internet users is also increasing day by day. This has made online mediums a useful form of advertising. Online advertising is targeted advertising and targets only those customers who have a high probability of buying anything from a brand which makes it budget-friendly. The results of the advertisements can also be tracked here.

Covert Advertising

Covert advertisements use media and entertainment channels such as movies and sports to indirectly market a company's products and services. It is an indirect form of advertising blended within a movie or web series.

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda is similar to advertising in the way that it influences and persuades people but through distorted information and lies to achieve a particular cause. It manipulates the beliefs and behaviors of the public, making them believe that one idea or ideology is better than the other to make them achieve a certain purpose. It is based on partiality and is not at all factual because it appeals to the personal beliefs of the people. The term originated back in the seventeenth century. Propaganda as a term is majorly used negatively due to its negative uses mainly by nazi Germany and by the Soviet Union to gather support on their sides. They propagate or spread a belief by manipulating people by providing distorted information, and this is what is propaganda. When a message is spread for propaganda, full information is not provided, and only those points that match the belief of the propagandists are being told to make people believe them to gain their support.

 Moreover, the majority of the time the distorted information not only includes missed points but also lies and misleading statements. So, this manipulative nature of the message is what makes it different from advertising which is a marketing message. Propaganda, unlike advertising, is used in all spheres of life, like social, economic, and political spheres, to achieve one's purpose. But mainly, it is used in the political sphere. There are various types of propaganda, and some of them are: -

  • Transfer Propaganda
  • Stereotyping Propagaanda

Transfer Propaganda

Transfer propaganda uses a very strategic method of grabbing a particular opportunity and using that opportunity to highlight the features of a person, product, or idea to receive favorable results. It highlights the features of the opponent and is mainly used by politicians when they get any opportunity to highlight the faults of the opposition parties. It is like if any opposition party does something wrong, then the other political party will make arrangements to highlight the weak points of that party more to gain support from the public. Companies also use this against their competitors when some fault is found in their goods and services, telling people why they should not prefer the other company.

Stereotyping Propaganda

In this type of propaganda, certain sections of society are addressed along with the stereotypes that are generally associated with them. Companies then make advertisements breaking the stereotypes. For example, there is an advertisement for Hero Honda Pleasure where they use the tagline 'Why should boys have all the fun' to break stereotypes and promote their products. 

Major Differences Between Advertising and Propaganda (In Points)

  • Advertising is just a marketing technique used by businesses to promote their products and services by mentioning their specifics. It intends to increase the sale of products and services of a particular business by spreading its influence far and wide. Propaganda, on the other hand, is also a powerful tool of communication, but this communication involves manipulation and distorted information. Propaganda is a persuasive communication that is not used for marketing any commodities but it is used for marketing ideologies and beliefs and manipulates the general public making them believe into something false to fulfil a specific purpose.
  • The main aim of advertising is promoting, for marketing purposes, to increase the sale of products and services of a particular business, but propaganda aims to manipulate people into believing something false, thus favoring one idea over the other. Advertisements are factual and unbiased because facts related to specific commodities are provided in an advertisement which urges people only to purchase from a particular brand. However, propaganda is biased and contains distorted information. Propagandists do not spread the entire information and reveal only those points that match with their beliefs to gain the support of the general public.
  • Advertising is mainly used in the marketing sphere to promote the goods and services of a particular company, whereas propaganda is used in every sphere of life, such as social, economic, and political. It is mainly used in the political sphere because politicians use it to gain the support of the public mainly before voting. The results of advertising is that it leads to an increase in conversion for a particular business, whereas propaganda manipulates and leads people to believe that one belief is better than the other.


Hence, advertising is a marketing communication used for marketing products and services of a particular brand where propaganda is mainly used for political reasons to make people believe that one idea is better than the other. Advertisements are unbiased and factual because the specifications of the product promoted are only provided in advertisements, but propaganda is biased and provides distorted information to manipulate people into believing something false to gain their support for a particular reason.



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"Difference Between Advertising and Propaganda." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 19 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-advertising-and-propaganda>.

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