Difference Between Advertising and Propaganda (With Table)

Human communication is often interchangeably used to convey certain information to the listeners that affect their thinking process or rather views about certain items, people, things or a group as a whole.

This strategy is often used in the field of marketing and politics where the methods of Advertising and Propaganda is employed to win trust from the target audience, and the use of language is done to convince the audience. It convinces them to believe certain perspectives and win their trust. Both of these tools are subjective and make use of multimedia or print media to convey the message to a large audience.

Advertising vs Propaganda

The main difference between advertisement and propaganda is that advertisement is a marketing tool that aims at convincing people to use certain products or services instead of the available alternatives, while propaganda is a tool that promotes one particular ideology over others often demeaning the other.

Advertising is a clever marketing strategy that intends to gain more customers for a certain product and services focusing on attracting more and more attention, engagement and sales. These advertisements work with associating certain images to the audiences’ minds which will enable them to buy or get more of the related product and service.

Propaganda on the other hand promotes a particular idea to gain relevance among the masses and to make that specific ideology a dominant one. This involves demeaning the opposite ideology and is based on centralising partial information to influence the audiences’ religious, political and social beliefs. 

Comparison Table Between Advertising and Propaganda

Parameters of ComparisonAdvertisingPropaganda
DefinitionAdvertising is a strategy used in marketing services and products to gain customers. Propaganda is used by an organization to attract public consensus and to dominate the opposite group.
EtymologyIt is derived from French Advertir meaning to call attention to.It is derived from Latin propagare meaning to spread or to propagate. 
UsageIt is used to promote products and services.It is used to propagate subjective ideology.
NatureIt is persuasive.It is manipulative.
Field Related toIt is related to the field of marketing.It is generally related to the field of politics.
EffectIt affects the sales of goods and services.It affects the thinking process and manipulates the ideology of the target audience.

What is Advertising?

Advertisement in modern times is an inseparable part of the marketing strategy. Several firms make use of it to sell their products and services. Not only does it help in the sales of the goods but also in giving the brand identity in the market, while influencing people to avail the goods. 

The chief modes in advertising a product are designing pamphlets, brochures, contacting influencers and celebrities to the campaign, sharing social media posts, television commercials and attracting the customers by asking them to avail the discounts that they are providing on the products. They subtly tell the customers how they should buy the goods often reminding them of factors like convenience and feasibility of it.

Advertisements also change the consumer’s preferences of the product from another brand to their own by providing the pros, description of their product often in dramatized manner. These are in nature, persuasive keeping in mind the strategy to gain as many customers as possible in comparison to the rival brand. 

What is Propaganda?

Propaganda in turn seeming similar to advertising target the social, political and religious belief of the people while using the same to manipulate people into their agreement. In general terms, Propoganda is a cognitive campaign that makes people think and act in a certain way, while often passing misleading or biased information.

Most of the propaganda is employed in the case of political or social groups where certain emotions of the public are aroused to manipulate them into believing or giving in to the organization’s objectives which promotes selective opinion. 

Propaganda aims to gain a mass number of social consensus that willingly approves or stand in defence of their action. The most accurate example of propaganda is the Nazi propaganda which helped them consolidate power in the hands of their party and enabled them to carry out the massacre of the Jew community.

Main Differences Between Advertising and Propaganda

  1. Advertising is used by a company to gain customers who would avail their goods and services, while propaganda is used by any group or organisation to dominate over the opposite group.
  2. Advertising is derived from French Advertir meaning ‘to call attention to’, while Propaganda is derived from Latin  propagare meaning ‘to spread’ or ‘to propagate’.
  3. Advertising is used to promote products and services, whereas propaganda is used to propagate subjective ideology.
  4. Advertising is persuasive in nature, however Propaganda is manipulative.
  5. Advertising is done in the field of marketing, on the contrary Propaganda is used by social and political organization.
  6.  Advertising affects the sale of goods, on the other hand Propaganda affects the thinking process and manipulates the ideology of the target audience.


Both Advertising and Propaganda affect the targetted audience in one way or the other. When Advertising is used to affect the choice of the customer to buy a product, Propaganda affects the thinking of the people and their viewpoint. Propaganda often becomes the root of the problem of the society when a large number of people blindly follow the yardstick of the organization leading them, therefore is hazardous, but advertising simply being a marketing strategy does not cause a social disorder. 


  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-political-science-review/article/theory-of-political-propaganda/9AFAA9A4B7BD71EA20B3521A99D7EF3F
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899825616301476
  3. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/260231