Let’s face it. Advertising sucks.
Although it’s difficult for me to face up to the fact that I’ve wasted the last twenty years of my life I have finally come to this very sorry realisation. At best it’s completely superficial while at worst it’s positively damaging.
In print today, in the bin tomorrow
How many times can you wrack your brains for an idea, see it through to production and then have it completely forgotten among the thousands and millions of other ads that appear every day? And, come on, most of the ideas we come up with are just rehashing stuff that’s been done before aren’t they?
Working on a production line
We all like to kid ourselves that because advertising is called a ‘creative industry’ we’re just one step away from being artists and having our work immortalised as though some great contribution to mankind’s collective awareness. But we’re not really artists. We’re just factory workers pumping out derivative ideas that nobody really cares about.
Turning the world into a garbage dump
At the end of the day our job is to encourage people to buy more stuff whether they need it or not. And the more that people buy the more they throw away. We are contributing to a throwaway culture and heading toward the time when the world will be one huge landfill site. (And it’s not just the land we have to worry about. There are also horrendous phenomena like The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.)
Wasting natural resources. Generating pollution.
The other consequence of stimulating consumption, of course, is the destruction of the earth’s valuable natural resources. All those products we’re encouraging people to buy are using up irreplaceable raw materials while the production processes (not to mention the end products) are generating more and more pollution. Without exaggerating, we’re talking the end of the world here.
Even more scary than changing the environment is the fact that advertising is actually changing the way people think. Instead of being satisfied with just having enough to live on people are now driven by the messages they see all around them to want more than they ever needed before. Not only that, but to envy those who already have more. It creates a nasty, me-me-me society that I, for one, don’t want to be part of.
Destroying children’s lives
And we’re not just talking about the effect on adults here. At least they have the opportunity – though rarely taken – to say No and change their ways. But kids don’t have that facility. Bombarded by advertising telling them what’s cool and what’s not they are strapped into the consumer gravy train almost from birth, taking away much of the innocence of childhood. Then there’s the increasing sexualisation of childhood that’s especially encouraged by fashion advertising which most right minded people find absolutely abhorrent.
The worst thing about advertising and all the bad things it’s responsible for is that you simply have no escape from it. In most other aspects of life people can choose the way they want to live but advertising is everywhere. In every magazine and newspaper, on every street, on every website and in between every TV programme it’s there, constantly nagging, constantly manipulating the way we think – whether we like it or not. And never believe someone who says “I’m not influenced by advertising”. We all are.
Advertising is nothing short of brainwashing and, while I too can’t escape seeing it all around, I can at least say ‘enough is enough’ and stop contributing to its seemingly unstoppable growth.
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