According to Berger, the act of “publicity” or advertising is the essentially trying to get consumers to imagine an alternative way of life to influence them, that we can change ourselves and our lives by buying something more. This is significant because it leads consumers to believe they are in some way richer, even though they are getting poorer.
Berger argues that though oil paintings and photography are similar, oil paintings are an act of art while publicity photography is an act of commerce. Oil paintings “showed what the owner was already enjoying among his possessions and way of life;” “it enhanced his view of himself as he already was.” Publicity on the other hand, “appeal to a way of life that we aspire to or think we aspire to.” These differences are important, oil paintings enhanced the subjects view of themselves because it showed facts of their life. Publicity photography suggests that if we buy whatever it is offering, our lives would be different from what it currently is, but it can only be achieved if we have the money.
One of the dreams he offers is the dream of later tonight. The images used in the advertisements manipulate consumers by allowing the consumer to hold onto the promise that with money you too can be surrounded by the greatest pleasures. The images depict groups of people smiling and laughing, all very well dressed, with drinks in their hands. It brings about the illusion that money and happiness are one and the same.