25 March 2014

The power of Advertising

Advertising is everywhere. Media that were once largely commercial free – from movies to the internet - now come replete with commercial messages. Not so long ago, most musicians were reluctant to see their work used to endorse shampoo or sneakers.  Today, the music and advertising industries are locked in a lucrative embrace.

We now have commercials in our schools and on our clothes. They clog up – with increasing speed - nearly every form of communication we devise. Our dominant TV genre – in terms of sheer volume - is not comedy, drama or sport, but advertising.
Governments, regulators and media companies tend to regard advertising purely as a form of revenue. They have - under pressure from an industry looking to maximise its income - allowed it to proliferate. There are a few exceptions to this: governments are prepared to limit the promotion of harmful substances such as tobacco, and they police the boundaries of taste and decency.
Advertisements share one basic value system. Advertisements may be individually innocent,  collectively they are the propaganda wing of a consumerist ideology. The moral of the thousands of different stories they tell is that the only way to secure pleasure, popularity, security, happiness or fulfilment is through buying more; more consumption - regardless of how much we already have.

Advertising runs counter to all these ideas and thereby stifles our imagination. It keeps us hooked on a cycle of borrow and spend, with fiscal policies dependent on mountains of debt. And it sustains the idea that human progress is measured purely by our ability to acquire as many consumer goods as possible.

Occasionally, advertising can provide us with useful –albeit very partial – information. But in the world of branding, imparting useful information has become increasingly old-fashioned. What we have instead is a vast global industry that elevates one activity above all others, and, in so doing, promotes a very particular set of economic and cultural values.

Source: Webpage

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