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Researchers find inverse correlation between advertising and life satisfaction (hbr.org)
453 points by jrepinc 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 356 comments



This reminds me of an anecdote a friend told me: This friend dedicates his time in going to very rural areas/towns here in Mexico to implement government programs.

At some point in the past he got to a town were the cantina had just gotten the only TV in town... apparently people in the town were generally happy, and they had everything they needed... so in their view they were not poor.

But once they started watching TV, they started seeing the Nikes, the fridges, the trips to Europe and all that "stuff" that they couldn't get... and there they started to ask why couldnt they get all that and thus started feeling poor.

Amazing what advertising can do for perceived "needs"


Another example, Apartheid South Africa got TV in 1976, six months later the riots started, coincidence? I think as soon as black people in South Africa could see how black people in America lived, they truly realized how bad they had it. Here it contributed to the undoing of an unjust government, so it's not always a force for evil.

I think the most dangerous thing to North Korea is western media. I know the South Koreans like to float DVDs over on balloons and things, but the US would be smart to get into that in a big way.


I was listening to the Unchained podcast when DPRK defector Yeonmi Park was a guest. She escaped from the DPRK when she was 16 and just having watched the movie Titanic (that her uncle had gotten hold of) once as a kid influenced her thinking a lot.

https://unchainedpodcast.com/yeonmi-park-on-why-doing-busine...


I started reading that transcript and my BS detectors were bouncing off the charts. I think she's peddling a profitable narrative; from other sources [1], it seems clear that her position in NK was privileged in relative terms. No doubt she's had hardships, but all her incentives as a professional - what, exactly? witness? victim? - are to exaggerate the harshness of her experiences.

[1] https://thediplomat.com/2014/12/the-strange-tale-of-yeonmi-p...


Honestly I think the same way about that too, but there is just far too much video evidence against North Korea to suggest that these people are lying. Being well off in North Korea does have it's perks, but being essentially what is their middle class equivalent still is terrible. These people usually end up in Millgram experiments basically where they HAVE to do things they morally do not want to but cannot refuse because they'll lose their financial status and be stripped of their position or thrown in a camp.

Anything said about NK is not an exaggeration. So much so that South Korea has a television station dedicated to defectors who make shows themselves and produce loads of content exclusively for helping defectors acclimate to the culture as well as smuggling efforts to let them know it's better on the other side. Many of them as well are volunteers.


Oh I don't think things are great in NK, and they're probably dire for the peasants, but her story specifically is very shaky.


I heard of a similar story from my history teacher, but with eastern block and the show Dallas. From what I remember authorities were hoping that it would show the decadence of the west, but I think people mainly saw the higher living standards.


IIRC they were oil moguls. What I found confusing was that guys that were complaining of their salary, like policemen, lived in 2000 sqft houses, like in the show with a kid named Urkell.


When was this apparently being aired, and in which country?

At least in Hungary a dubbed version of Dallas was being aired in the mid 1990s well after the Berlin Wall fell.

I even remember my brother jokingly asking a Hungarian at the time if she wanted to know who shot J.R. and she answered immediately with a very loud, "no!"


The East German communist regime lost to West German television. Comparing your 10 year wait period for a Trabi with the latest BMW made by the same ethnic and cultural group just a few miles across a fence living in a prosperous capitalist system was all the daily reminder East Germans needed. I remember how in a village in the North in 1982 they erected a giant TV antenna pole for better reception...


They probably got more of their aspirations from sitcoms featuring black families and less from advertisements.


Yes, I suspect so, I was speaking about TV in general, not advertisements, which could be confusing given the posted article.


anti-apartheid struggle started way earlier though. TV may have helped break some of the propaganda of the government


I don't doubt it.


I can't remember if it was a Vice or BBC documentary but it was about how basically the poor nobody sees live. I mean the most prominent thing they mentioned was how Kim Jong Un inherited a functionalist government that didn't exist with his predecessors. Also a lot of people stand up to police or even fight back even though the cops could very well throw them in jail. The cops don't because often times a crowd of, essentially peasants, will show up not caring if they go to. So the cop realizes getting beaten up and mugged is not worth this.

I feel like if Kim Jong Un dies in the next 10 years and he doesn't have a designated successor, it'll turn into a Junta like Thailand or possibly even ones like Argentina or Portugal where they end up reuniting with South Korea.


I think a percentage of North Koreans undeniably know what the real world has that they lack, but remember compared to other countries which managed to throw off their shackles, this is a totalitarian regime. There is no contact with the outside world, widespread spying, and brainwashing.


That raises profound and fascinating philosophical questions about the nature of knowledge and happiness. I wonder how many of those people would choose to forego the knowledge of what they don't have if it meant they would be happy again. On the other hand, is that even a meaningful question to ask, given it's not possible?

Which of course leads to the ethical question: is it right for people to live in ignorance if it makes them happy, it it's not their choice? Is it fundamentally better for people to be happy rather than aware of massive inequality (up to and including significant poverty)? How much would be appropriate to hide, for how much additional happiness? Is it better in the long run for some to be unhappy if it brings attention to inequality?

I don't have any of those answers, but they're interesting and challenging questions.


You're missing a key factor. It's not "knowledge of what they don't have" that advertising brings. Advertising is highly sophisticated psychological manipulation, refined over that lat 100 years, that invents "needs" and "wants" in the target subjects. Much of that manipulation is preys upon and creates in securities, inflicts unhappiness and other manufactured "ills". Then promises to relieve them if you buy.

It's artificial. If they just had knowledge, like say wikipedia or ad blocked internet. They would be wanting real things like education, health care, self-determination, not Nikes.


There is the obvious plug to the Century of Self documentary, if someone hasn't seen it yet but is interested in the subject of "creating needs and wants": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnPmg0R1M04 or https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2d29tf

The documentary relates "The story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud's ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn't need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires."


You’ve fallen into the fallacy of equating availability of advertisement to availability of knowledge. Knowledge is supposed to be a direct result of some observation of reality, advertising is usually a created and modified reality designed by someone (who is using their knowledge of the psychology behind it funnily enough) which displays the product or service as a requirement for improvement of the person being advertised too’s life. The goal of advertising is to sell, the result of knowledge is to understand. Two very different things.


> is it right for people to live in ignorance if it makes them happy, it it's not their choice?

I wouldn't pretend to answer if it is "right" (what does it even mean), but a lot of people already do live in ignorance. Maybe not in the straight way of ignorance of not being able to recollect some information, but certainly in terms of assigning certain labels and judgements to it. So many people watch a TV with someone having a great time and think/feel to themselves things like "they stole the money somehow to get there", "they had rich parents", "they are not happy anyway", "life is unfair, they got their riches through unfairness", "money is the root of all evil", "money brings unhappiness", "it's not their real life, just some fake instagram story" etc.


We all live in ignorance. Our most epic skill is to work with incomplete information. We use to praise people for being able to do arithmetic in their head or memorize large amounts of information. The computers showed that those abilities are only challenging because we lack the "design" for it.

Advertisement, like Instagram or facebook is tailored to give us the impressions the Joneses are doing much better for themselves. Some of this is true, some is designed to tap into this emotion.

I actually woke up 30 min ago iterating over all the things I didn't get in life that most other people had in abundance. It's not the first time I pondered that. After the excuses you mention above I always come back to a thought I had when I was I think 6 years old:

Other peoples lives, their expectations and their opinions are not really all that interesting or important. They could be if they put minimal effort into creating or evolving them. In stead they just copy this stuff from the next guy without review - then dedicate their lives to living up to them.

I consider myself extremely privileged to escape from that formula. I've never written it down before but happiness now starts with having oxygen to breath, then comes having water to drink, food and a place to sleep share the 3rd spot, 4th is having the mind set to think about something, 5th is a sense of safety and the privilege to implement the thoughts, 6th is to be able to share the thoughts and brainstorm, 7th is to have good people in my life, 8th is to be able to pay my bills, 9th a decent set of garments etc

Having what other people are having is still on the list some place but to have 1-4 makes for a fantastic life. 5 includes health and fitness. The rest is really just nonsense by comparison.

What I'm trying to say is that satisfaction is overrated. You get only so much of it, trying to optimize for it just diminishes it.

> the survey question “How satisfied are you with your life?”

Not satisfied? Well good! Time to accomplish something!


Some of those 'false' narratives are generalities that are not too far away from the truth. It is true that pursuing money does not bring happiness in itself if one is blinded by the pursuit and does not know when to stop. It is true that rich people's offspring are also rich. It is also true that a lot of what's on TV is fake or generally falls into these patterns. Just at Hollywood for example


I don't I know the answer is that difficult.

1) Prime Directive: don't introduce knowledge that will make someone's life harder or more complicated if you don't have to.

2) If they have the means to get that knowledge, you're now obligated to fill in the disparity between your quality of life, such that they can be at least as happy as you are.


This way of thinking is founded upon the notion that blissful ignorance is something societies should strive towards.

Without unfulfilled desires, there is no room for self-actualization. See: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


This is less about what one should want for oneself than what one owes others whose lives they are disrupting with their presence. If you take someone's innocence, you have a moral obligation to their mental well-being.


The ethical question gets to the point of it. IMHO, I think they should be able to choose either or not to "take the red pill".

Thinking about long term, the life of their children, perhaps their children's children, is likely to be significantly enhanced when things like access to healthcare and education become a possibility.


I recommend remaining in ignorance of how good it feels to take heroin. You don't want to know


The Catholic Church has thought long and hard about this, and came up with purgatory.


Another personal anecdote: once I stopped watching TV I stopped feeling self conscious about driving a 10+ year old car, and no longer yearned to buy a new one.


That helps explain how much advertising is done for durable goods that we only buy every X years.


Driving a newish car is a pretty good idea though, they are generally way safer.


If you are talking about one from the 80s probably yes, 2009 not so much.


I don't think this is correct. A lot of the new driver assistance technologies are having a significant effect on safety:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/22/new-report-shows-how-many-ac...

These features are new in the last 10 years, some are new in the last couple years, and they are continually improving.


It’s not showing up in fatality rates. 2009 had 1.15 deaths per 100 million miles, 2018 had 1.13 but that difference is just noise. With 2014 down at 1.08 and 2016 up at 1.19. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_fatality_rate_in...

Of course plenty of older cars are still on the road, but collision avoidance systems have been on the roads for years and don’t seem to be having significant impact.

Granted, driver behaviors may be getting worse, but going back further and you see significant declines which just stall out around 2009.


> It’s not showing up in fatality rates.

Fair, it does seem like the overall statistics don't show this. I'm having trouble squaring this with the data showing that these technologies are preventing accidents.

> Granted, driver behaviors may be getting worse

I wonder whether the top quartile is getting significantly better (thus resulting in the great "crashes avoided" numbers that these technologies claim) while everyone else is getting more distracted with their cell phones, causing an overall increase in the average number of crashes.

This goes into a bit more detail, suggesting that pedestrian fatalities due to more SUVs could also be driving the increase in fatalities: https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/3/17933536/traffic-death-cr...

So it could also be a "safer for me, more dangerous for you" situation too with these new vehicles.


It might also be that fatal accidents are much harder for automated driving systems to prevent. They could drastically reduce parking lot fender benders or low speed rear end collisions, but those are ultra low risk.

Someone doing 140+MPH is going to receive minimal benifits from 1/8th of a second of early breaking before hitting a tree. Similarly, losing control on ice and driving off a cliff, or getting hit with a jackknifed semi truck etc.


The effect appears to be negative if anything. That article is starkly (and suspiciously) alone in its conclusions, if you look at what's been happening statistically over the last few years.

The systems will get better, but for the time being, they mostly serve to let drivers think they can get away with paying even less attention to the road than usual.


This is a "get off my lawn" sort of comment, but:

Easy cars are making worse drivers. People rarely check their blind spot now because the little light on their sideview mirror lights up instead. People are less concerned about driving unsafely because their cars are thicker, heavier, and bigger than the other participants on the road. This has been especially troubling to watch develop from the bike lane, as visibility shrinks and auto manufacturers don't seem to test extensively whether their onboard radar can detect cyclists and pedestrians. It's created a very strange experience of driving where the person inside does not share the same reality as the outside except when their car is within 2 feet of another car. Cars are cages, not only physically, but mentally too.


Let's not fall into "cager" rhetoric. I've been on the opposite side of that where I've rolled down my window to ask some cyclists to not dwell behind my A pillar when driving in the city, just to be ignored.

We're all locomoters, and we have finite road to share, but I do agree that some of these safety systems are probably having a deleterious effect on driving skill and overall awareness in that all the driver assist mechanisms are not being treated as instruments that can fail. They should be considered no replacement for human attention, which I think is unfortunately what is happening. Similar to how safety device advances in football have actually made the injuries more severe due to the players taking greater risks.

As long as we're all on the same infrastructure, we've all got to commit to respecting each other's presence. Cyclist and motorist alike.


I agree with the rest of your comment, but

> respecting each other's presence. Cyclist and motorist alike.

I truly hate the equivocation rhetoric used in these discussions on mobility because they obfuscate the insurmountable power dynamics at play. Let's fall into cager rhetoric; cars are cages now more than ever.

Cyclists aren't obligated to respect motorists if motorists act with scant care toward the cyclists' lives. Yes, yes, "not all motorists" just like "not all cyclists" but it's hard to overcome the difference between a 1000kg car and a 10kg bike. Reciprocity, man. Have some respect for the power you wield behind the steering wheel.

When I ride, I already do so under the assumption that the cars have absolutely no idea I'm there despite me following all traffic laws to a 'T'. And I'm still right-hooked at least once each way to the gym (20-30min ride on a 4-lane road). Most recently I was riding next to a cop one time when the person in front of him not only overtook me within 3ft but also swerved into the bike lane multiple times ahead of me. I approached him and raised my concerns, and was met with an absolute deadpan stare before he drove away without a word.

My argument is not one that supports cyclists behaving aggressively toward motorists.

It should be mandatory during driving school to spend some time on a bike on busy roads.


This is not a case of respect on the road.

In 49 states a driver making a right turn should enter the bike lane before their turn. That’s what the dashed lines mean. However, it’s very rarely been taught in drivers ed and to my knowledge there has never been a major public safety campaign on this issue.


People rarely check their blind spot no

True, and another facet of the same problem is that blind spots are getting bigger by the model year, as automakers take the cheap way out and raise their belt lines to meet side-impact regulations.

We will all be driving around in tanks before long. I guess that's supposed to be a good thing.


> We will all be driving around in tanks before long.

Car doors are close to a foot thick now. The cars are getting huge which means more space is occupied by the streets (increased lane width and space in intersections for larger turning radius), the parking lots (larger parking spots and wider spaces to drive between them), etc. The mental isolation between driver and environment is growing and does not seem to be decelerating. I'm convinced that maybe 10% of all drivers (in my area, suburban SV) pay any attention to what's happening behind them. They don't have to care, so they don't!

Cars are devouring mobility.


Aren't we seeing our first requests from manufacturers to remove sideview mirrors entirely? To be replaced by cameras and video screens.


Not necessarily a bad thing, see my other comment about how ridiculously bad exterior visibility is becoming. It seems that each new model year brings higher beltlines, less glass... and more distracting "safety" gadgets that only sort of work.

Few drivers use their mirrors, and even fewer adjust them properly, so they might as well be next on the chopping block.


We've been seeing those requests for awhile now, e.g. this from 2016:

https://www.oemoffhighway.com/electronics/sensors/proximity-...


Are these in use now?


2012 -- electronic stability control made a pretty big difference. Past that, the jury is out.


Mandatory that year but common before that.


Said succinctly: Comparison is the thief of joy


One of my favorite sayings is "never compare yourself to others, for it will make you both vain and bitter. There will always be someone worse than you, and always someone better."


Ive always felt quite the opposite: comparing myself to those better off than me motivates me and to those worse off makes me grateful for what I have. This started pretty immediately after I entered the workforce. I don't know what accounts for me ending up on the win-win side of the coin, but I'm evidence that you can't take for granted that the lose-lose situation you describe will happen.


It's probably more accurate to say that it's a quadrant with the axes being 'comparison' and 'gratitude'. Being high on gratitude and high on comparison accounts for your quadrant of possibilities. It seems like the moral is to either be lower in comparison, or higher in gratitude. Or both :)


I saw this on a television show (don't remember which one), but a father was scolding his child who was complaining about another child having more candy or something.

He said: "The only time you look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don't look in your neighbor's bowl to see if you have as much as them."


That was on Louie.


Example: Comparing engineering salaries :/. It can be addictive and disheartening to look up salaries and see giant numbers.


Perhaps I’m unusual, but other people earning more than me doesn’t dishearten me. My first job after uni was UK national average for all adults, so I felt well off even on “only” £24k in 2007, but ever since then, no matter how much I get paid, other people keep telling me I don’t earn enough.

If anything, the idea of earning twice as much feels weird rather than aspirational.


Perhaps some of them also meant you don't earn enough in the sense that they feel you're worth more than what you're being paid, which can be a reasonable belief.

But I suppose that in of itself can be unhealthy if taken too far.


This happens with me and I’m not proud of it.

I make a pretty healthy salary working in the valley, certainly higher than most. But of course there are plenty people that make more. When I see these I get that brief sense of negative emotion.

I don’t like it but not sure how to control it either. Except I guess not look up engineering salaries.


Sounds a lot like the Chinese film 'Ermo'.

"Ermo is a hardworking village woman in the northern province of Hebei, who makes noodles to feed her husband and child. When her neighbor buys a brand new television, she is consumed by dreams of owning one herself. Desperate to own the largest television in the village, she becomes obsessive in her desire to earn money, eventually leaving the village to work in town. Her efforts to earn enough money damages her health and her relationship with her family."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ermo


Thank you for sharing this. My personal take-away is that advertisment and even worse marketing are a plague to our society.


I’m not sure if it’s just the TV, but definitely exposure to what’s out there can have this effect. I’ve seen family members that were generally happy with village life (developing country), until they get exposed to what’s in the modern cities. This can be from TV and other media but often times it’s just visiting or living there.

I have cousins that would be considered modest down to earth people that were generally happy etc. Live in the city for a while because of school or work and a few years later are completely different. Much more superficial, materialistic and I guess shrewd.

Not sure what the answer is. The change is negative in my opinion. But keeping what’s out there from them isn’t right either.


We should strive to take away the option of knowledge from the poor, so they can be happy with their place in society.


We should strive to lie less to the poor about what they need to possess.


We should strive to lie less period! Not only the poor are lied to, the middle class is the main target IMHO


Like access to health care?


False advertising is already illegal.

Other than that, there's nothing wrong with creating desire for something. It's ultimately up to the people to make their own choices.


Blatantly false advertising is illegal. There's a lot of room between "blatantly false" and "valuable and informative". That's why we have upvote and downvote mechanisms.

Also, I understand not everyone believes this, but I think there is something morally wrong with the form and scale of manipulation that modern advertisement brings.


Advertising doesn't contain knowledge. It's like a stopped clock: even when it's correct, you don't know it's correct, because most of the time it's not correct.

And more critically, even when it is correct, it's not the complete story. I've never seen an ad that admits that their competitor's product is cheaper, or better. In fact, most ads don't even want you to know their competitor exists. So let's not pretend advertising is about "giving knowledge to the poor". That's just an odious lie. If it were about giving knowledge, you'd by trying to tell the whole story.


The knowledge is that product exists, followed by its purpose, features and benefits to you. Why would they tell you about a competitor?


Can't help but notice that the product's flaws isn't in that list.

I think the point is that advertising is providing you an ideal imagery to drive you to buy their product, truth and knowledge be damned.


Flaws are subjective depending on how a product doesn't match your needs. What would a company consider a flaw? The product is released as designed, with no obvious issues.

Again, the knowledge is them telling you about the product. They don't make you do anything other than provide information. You're entirely in control of your decisions.


> Flaws are subjective depending on how a product doesn't match your needs. What would a company consider a flaw?

That's one part of the issue. A company's product might be the best product for some people's needs, but there might be another product that fits the needs of some market segment better. But the company doesn't care if their product is the best for that segment: a sale is a sale. They'll advertise the strong points of the product, ignoring the properties of the product which might make it unsuitable for some consumers. This doesn't benefit consumers.

This might all seem obvious, but there are people on this thread who think advertising benefits consumers.

> What would a company consider a flaw? The product is released as designed, with no obvious issues.

This is really, really not true, and I am not entirely sure you are making a good faith argument here. I work hard at my job, but I've never released a product that didn't have bugs and tradeoffs.

> Again, the knowledge is them telling you about the product. They don't make you do anything other than provide information. You're entirely in control of your decisions.

Your decisions are only as good as the information you have, and advertising deliberately gives you wrong or incomplete information.


> "I've never released a product that didn't have bugs and tradeoffs"

Bugs are not known flaws, otherwise you should fix them. What's the warning, that nothing is guaranteed to be perfect?

> "advertising deliberately gives you wrong or incomplete information."

Incorrect. False advertising is illegal. Trade-offs are subjective to you. What's considered complete information is subjective to you.

Consumers benefit from the knowledge of that product existing and its features. Whether that product works for you is your choice. If you need more info then go research it. Nobody is going to magically tell you what's best for your life, that's your responsibility.


> Bugs are not known flaws, otherwise you should fix them.

That's not reality. Sometimes you don't have budget, sometimes there isn't a clear solution, etc.

> Incorrect. False advertising is illegal.

Haha! Okay buddy. Not sure what country you live in where that even pretends to be true, but our US companies are happy to break laws in that country to lie to you.

> Whether that product works for you is your choice. If you need more info then go research it. Nobody is going to magically tell you what's best for your life, that's your responsibility.

Sure, but let's not pretend that advertisers are our helpful friends here. They are our opponents, whose misinformation we have to constantly combat in order to find useful information to make informed decisions.


So the problem is companies that knowingly put out products with bugs and lie in their ads?

Your concern isn't about advertising then, it's just shady companies.


Is there any other kind?


You know there is, but if you really think every company is shady then there's nothing to discuss anyway.


They would tell me about the competitor if they were actually trying to help me. My point is that advertisers are not trying to help me.


Advertisers are just companies and people doing the advertising, and they're only trying to tell you about their product (which helps you in it's intended function).

Where did you get this requirement that they must help you with your entire shopping comparison? Why would they do that for free? It's your responsibility to learn about what you need and make the decision that's best for you.

Also there's plenty of marketing that does help, for example the entire field of content marketing where educational and informative content is posted with a minor sponsor mention.


> Where did you get this requirement that they must help you with your entire shopping comparison? Why would they do that for free? It's your responsibility to learn about what you need and make the decision that's best for you.

Agreed.

The problem is that on this thread there are a bunch of people trying to say that advertising is helping customers.


It is wrong to say that it doesn't contain any knowledge even if it is not the primary intent.

Incomplete and often deliberately misleading but there are actual gains to it. If you were in Cuba and saw an ad for the zero to sixty time of a mini-van which emphasised cargo space that was better than a hotrod.

Pretty much any interaction with reality even if pure lies can contain gleamable knowledge from analysis even if it is "they expect us to believe this crap".


Maybe we can just create a lower underclass that we make too stupid to care for growth by subjecting them to alcohol during pregnancy and provide them with drugs that will simply allow them to be content by being.


FAS is correlated with low socioeconomic status of the parent(s). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860552/

Likewise, poor educational outcomes not caused by FAS are also correlated with low socioeconomic status of the parent(s). And we already have the "content by being" drugs -- tobacco, alcohol, and television.

If that doesn't look like a permanent underclass that we're snowing with Soma, I don't know what would.


In all seriousness, Brave New World is an excellent book. It's quite startling how much Huxley got right (and also what he got wrong, instead of soma we actually got the complete opposite with an international version of American prohibition). The general premise that it's easier to keep the population ignorant by barraging us with endless trivial rubbish than than 1984-style authoritarian "Ministries of Truth" is spot on I think.

Huxley is definitely on my top ten list of favourite authors.


True but I always see TV, social networks, 9gag and tiktok like apps as soma. I take a gramme and only am.


Is this a Brave New World reference?


Yes :)


Yes, inequality only makes people unhappy if it is visible. Ergo, instead of asking developers to incorporate affordable housing, we should be encouraging more gated compounds.

I could put a /s here, but it could well be literally true.


Now everyone has a TV in their pockets with infinite ads. IG, FB, Tinder, etc.


It's interesting that you think that. I have a TV in my pocket with no ads. It's what I always dreamt of!


Isn't this the desired behavior of a complicated consciousness?

I always thought that being real, as in being in contact with reality, knowing what is going on - is one of the main characteristic of a quality consciousness, as opposed to an inferior one which is lost in it's own illusions. So then of course a good consciousness could react (including emotionally) to a different landscape of reality? To new information about what reality is, what is possible in life, what activities can be done, what experiences to be had etc? This is by design and the desired behavior, no?

Also I don't think that happiness is in such direct linear correlation to this, despite of some anecdotes - there are a plenty of rich unhappy people (who know that they are the richest on the planet, who know they have it good, because on TV they see people doing less interesting things).


That's why the old Soviet Union tried to jam western TV broadcasts leaking over the border.


The thing is they should see what they CAN have and they should wonder WHY they can't have it. Then maybe they can do something about it. Because simply one of the main reasons why Mexico does not have a higher standard of living is absolutely not becasue the Mexicans are lazy or dumb. It is because of the immense amount of corruption in their government; I think once they start to learn the source of their state of being they might decide to to try and really change it.


You can’t put it back in the cage - just like working in the movie industry changes the way you look at movies, advertising changes the way you feel in society.


It is not just advert, I think there is similar pattern to knowledge of something better exists. The internet, or Social Media with instagram, Facebook etc, has make you realise how much better something / life could be.

All that stuff you couldn't get.

Ignorance is bliss.


Maybe we could blind all the poor people, that way we don't need to buy them decadent luxuries like refrigerators.


The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced advertising should be regulated.


advertising is regulated


*more regulated, my bad.


I spent a lot of time in Vermont many years ago. I'd been there a little while, blissfully unaware, before someone told me "yeah, they banned billboards here in the sixties - you didn't notice?" I hadn't consciously noticed, no, but I'd spent my time there until that comment driving around stunned at how beautiful the place was. Now I knew the reason for that (well, partial reason - billboards or not, it's a pretty part of the world, especially in summer and fall).

I've thought a lot about that billboard ban ever since, and I'm convinced it enabled a measure of calm in me.

I'm not sure how much I buy the study talked about in the OP's article - spurious correlation strikes me as a possibility - but the intuition about advertising is spot-on, I think. It'd cool if our societies had more ad-free spaces.


I've never understood how billboards are acceptable. A giant sign that screams "Look at me, not the road!" seems like a bad idea.


Particularly when areas have laws about cellphone use while driving.


especially ironic when the billboard is an advert about not texting while driving.


This is why I take 280 instead of 101 when traveling to and from SF to South Bay even though it's slightly longer.


I've always preferred taking 280 over 101, because of the view and perception of being in nature. I never thought about the billboards, but now that you mention it that must also be part of the reason it's more enjoyable.


The distance is a few miles longer but the average speed is higher so it ends up being the same time, just much more pleasant because of the lack of billboards and wider lanes.


Driving 280 in 1983 was one of the most significant events in getting me to want to move here from Chicago.

I don't think it was the lack of billboards. But if there were billboards, it sure would feel different.


I've always considered it the "rich man's freeway". No semis allowed, no billboards, lots of either open-space preserves or mansions in the scenery.


Whoa, I never realized that. I live north of the border and drive through Vermont every so often to visit family. Now that you mention it, there are zero billboards on the highways.


Hell yeah! Cool to be able to share that eureka moment with others who know the area. Spread the word.


You've made me want to visit Vermont.


Banned in most of Orange County, California as well. It's an immediate, drastic change driving south on The 5 from LA.


Advertising is an attack on your psyche. Its very existence is an assumption that you should be dissatisfied with your life, and any advertising 'tricks' (only showing happy, beautiful people using it etc, aka 95% of the content of most advertisements) beyond purely factual statements about the product are explicitly designed to hijack every possible unconscious bias in their target audience to make them want it.

Sure, if you are concentrating and paying attention to the effect an ad has on you and the tricks it's using to manipulate you, you can pretty easily analyze and counteract the effect. But can you keep that up for every moment of every day, ever vigilant resisting the imposition of another's will onto yours, wriggling into your mind one tiny crack at a time?

Don't blink.


>you can pretty easily analyze and counteract the effect.

How? From my previous research I've found that it's one of those things that even if you know you're being tricked, it still affects your decision making.


I agree, but I've seen people insist otherwise. s/can pretty easily/may be able to/ is more reasonable I guess, but the point of that sentence is that even if you can perfectly counter it, can you do it perfectly forever?


Put on the expletive glasses: https://youtu.be/yjw_DuNkOUw


I was the first person in my family to do the "cord cutting" thing, where I only had an Amazon Prime and Netflix account, and a bunch of DVDs and Blu-Rays (around 2012). People asked me why, and I said that I think it's dumb to pay money for advertisements, and that I think ads are bad for you.

My brother-in-law is overall a smart guy, but he works at Taco Bell full-time, making minimum wage in NYC (~$15/hour). He decided that he needed the newest iPhone 11, presumably because of some good marketing, spent over a grand (through financing of course...ugh), and he'll spend the next year paying it off.

I have nothing against the iPhone, I have one, but let's be honest here, do most people even benefit from the "newest" phones? He mostly watches YouTube and listens to music, and occasionally plays PUBG, all of which you could do on previous versions. He's also not some passionate photographer, so the fancier camera isn't going to make a huge difference.


These stories are too common.

I would guess that the median* wage on HN is probably around 5x what your brother-in-law makes. And I would also guess that many of us are perfectly content with old phones, old cars, and generally reduced consumption. Hell, I buy clothes at thrift/resale shops when I find something nice that fits.

What are people of means (relatively) seeing? Is it because we have more leisure time and can afford to filter the media we consume?

*I'm consciously using median because I would guess that FAANG and the coasts skew the mean.


If you're basically rich and you choose to do things associated with being poor it's not really that negative because you aren't poor.

Like I mend clothes and something I do the visible mending stitch patterns. I'm sure people judge us and think we're poor, but I don't really care because I'm not. Alternatively, doing high effort things like mending clothes can seem kind of cute and novel if you aren't poor.


>Is it because we have more leisure time and can afford to filter the media we consume?

More or less. Cash, wealth, and access to credit afford you a number of avenues to avoid trouble, or else get out of it when you realize that you're in it. Time infused with money also usually returns more than bare time, as anyone who can hire a personal trainer vs spending hours trying to put together an effective training regimen can attest to.


That's what I find strange too; I can afford to get the new iPhone every year or two if I wanted (most software engineers probably can), and yet I plan on keeping mine until it's dead, broken, or stolen. I don't own a car, but if I did it would probably the cheapest car in reasonably good shape that gets reasonably good gas mileage.

There's a part of me that wonders if a lot of it boils down to education. My brother-in-law is relatively smart and able to learn new stuff fairly quickly, but he doesn't really have any education past high-school. Being better trained at math and compsci would probably help him realize the value for his purchases a bit better.


>I can afford to get the new iPhone every year or two if I wanted

Maybe that's what the difference is. Being able to afford these things means you might not feel a similar need to posture that you can afford a certain lifestyle that you really can't. I'm guessing that at minimum wage most would struggle financially especially in a large city like NYC, so being able to pull the newest iPhone out of their pocket might be their way of assuring themselves and people around them that they are doing alright financially.


My wife has had more contact with poorer communities. And she believes it's partly to maintain the appearance of wealth and status. I suspect it's also a luxury within reach versus those which seem impossible: homeownership, choosing ones employer, world travel, etc.


When I was very young and didn't make much money, there didn't seem to be any point in saving it. It could have been just immaturity on my part, but short-term thinking and the availability of unsecured debt made it too easy to spend. It was a defeatist mindset. In my mind, the amount of work involved in scrimping didn't justify the very small payout.

Now that I make more, I spend even less than I did before. The reward finally justifies the work. It doesn't bear out mathematically, only emotionally.


These stories are so common, when I read it, I was thinking it was a precise description of my own brother. My brother who earns 6 times less than I purchases a 1000$ Samsung phone whereas I don't buy any phone at all and just use the handme-down from my wife, for 0$. It's a 5 year old iphone6 but still works Great. His other expenses are much lower though: for example, he has subsidized housing which means he pays almost nothing for rent. and he has no car, since he can bike to work.

Advertisment almost never works on me, so it's hard for me to imagine it's so effective on everyone else.


No one thinks advertising works on them.

That's why it works on them.


There's clearly a range of influence though, and it's not crazy to think that some people fall further on one side than others.


What's frightening is that advertising does work on all of us, even when we find it offensive.

I buy warehouse store house-brand laundry detergent, but if you put me on Family Feud and asked me to name a detergent brand, it'd be Tide.


Name/brand recognition doesn't mean it "worked". In order for it to have worked, you need to actually spend money on the product or cause someone else to spend money on the product.


I'm reasonably certain that advertising works on most people, even if they don't realize it. Being told a modified and heavily-biased narrative of the world repeatedly, for literal hours a day is likely to have an effect, even if it's subtle.

Maybe you're one of the lucky people that advertising truly does not work on, and fair enough, but I seriously doubt that these big megacorporations would spend billions of dollars on ads if there weren't some measurable effect on a majority of people.


I call everything by the name brand, but only buy the store brand.


I make FAANG salary and I bought my car used for $6k. My previous car I bought used for $7k and drove for 8 years.

Not sure if I’m filtering out ads more (haven’t had a TV for over a decade), or the tech crowd tend to be more logical. But for me personally I just don’t care about what other people think, I tend to focus on utility. But then again I don’t think twice about spending $200 on a really nice meal, so maybe just difference judgement of value.


I think it is a tech social circle thing and a tendency to go within their own constraints and less likely to be swayed into "keeping up with the Joneses" - I recall some rankings that had engineers as one of the least likely occupations to go bankrupt - and that included doctors, lawyers, and accountants.


Another possibility is that people on HN are wealthier, in part, because they are better than average at delaying gratification.


I think any doctor would tell you that the amount of fast food I eat demonstrates that I am absolutely terrible at delaying gratification :)

I'm not a huge fan of the "rich people are more naturally inclined to be rich, which is why they're rich" arguments. There are plenty of examples about how the system is somewhat rigged to keep people poor.


Thanks for saying this. I think the mindset of the comment you're replying to can be dangerous.


It’s to get rid of the shame he feels about having an older inferior phone, frequently from peers who’ve been exposed to advertising


I personally would feel quite ashamed to have the latest IPhone, I'd feel that I'd fallen prey to apple's marketing. I live pretty well with a 5 year old SE. For the same reason I refuse to wear visibly branded clothes and am not ashamed to buy some used items. Living frugally by choice gets you back some freedoms.


Certainly, but you're also a product of an environment which values that sort of self-expression. If every time you went and hung out with your friends they shamed you, saying you look homeless, you might think differently. Its certainly a sign of maturity to not really care about those things, but depending on your life trajectory different values will hit. And clearly, a lot of people value a new iphone.

OTOH - its a device that you use for hours and hours a day, for entertainment, organization, communication, and a camera. Having a "better" one is a decent investment if it helps all those areas.


It's a more widespread issue than you say. Even mature professionals give me a look when they see that I use a 2.5-year-old Note8 instead of any iPhone, let a newer one. Some verbalize their antipathy.

"American society" is the environment in which status symbols dictate the character of interactions. Wealthier people tend to value actions or experiences over objects (Do you recycle? Did you go to a "good" school?), and judge based on that, but that's not an absolute rule.


Regarding the phone, I am trying to use my phone as little as I can, but I still do use it some. If you're to chase the latest phone, latest car, you're always going to be wowed, but will miss the other parts of life which I are truly essential.

And the shaming part, I literally don't care what other people think about me in terms of these things. I dress with dignity, have good hygiene, etc so there's nothing guilting me about their expectations.


>> If every time you went and hung out with your friends they shamed you, saying you look homeless, you might think differently

Then you need to change your friends.


It's true that newer phone used to be better than older phones.

But, we're getting to the point where newer phones really aren't any better than older ones.


My new one lasts 2x as long before charging and I can take beautiful photos that aren't grainy at all like the last one. Its absolutely worth the cost for me!


It really depends on the type of upgrade. Of course if you have a really old phone it may be worth upgrading, but keeping up with the latest is a waste of money and energy.


True. I only truly got rid of mine because I was on the 2nd screen and 3rd battery, and I was tired of having to charge it so often.


> I live pretty well with a 5 year old SE.

I love my SE. I really don't want a phone any bigger than the SE.


When my SE finally stopped charging and I found out that I’d missed the window for a subsidized battery, I resigned myself to Apple never introducing that SE2, and bought a used 7 to see if I could come to grips with the larger size.

It’s ok, but still a bit bigger than I’d like. Several apps are now usable again, such as the DB (German railways) app, which I became really dependent on after selling my car.

I can’t stomach the thought of spending 500 EUR on a phone, much less 1100. I’ve gotten cheap as I enter middle age.


I would say you woke from the mirage. Upgrading to the latest is almost never worth it. Use your money on things that you really need instead


I understand that. Being around a certain crowd makes you want certain things. An architect friend said she wouldn't want to be seen using an Android when a client visits her office. I'm glad my work and friends don't pressure me as much with things like that. If anything, I'd be embarrassed to be walking around with a $1100 phone, an openly extravagant purchase.


The SE was released in March 2016. I know how much I love mine, so it can definitely feel like it's been five years. ;)


> My brother-in-law is overall a smart guy, but he works at Taco Bell full-time, making minimum wage in NYC (~$15/hour). He decided that he needed the newest iPhone 11, presumably because of some good marketing, spent over a grand (through financing of course...ugh), and he'll spend the next year paying it off.

Apple has made this (buying, or rather leasing, a new iPhone every year) a lot easier to get addicted to and seemingly cheaper through the iPhone Upgrade Program.


Isn't that the primary goal of most advertising? To create a dissatisfaction in people in such a way that they're driven to buy your product in an attempt to fill that void?


Advertising used to be about listing the benefits of the product. Edward Bernays turned that on its head and made it about molding the public's psyche to make them see material goods as a form of identity, i.e. independent women who exercise their right to vote demonstrate their independence by publicly smoking cigarettes.

> Bernays touted the idea that the "masses" are driven by factors outside their conscious understanding, and therefore that their minds can and should be manipulated by the capable few. "Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays


And here lies the rotten and corrupted core of modern advertising.


That question is addressed in the article:

"Their line is that advertising is trying to expose the public to new and exciting things to buy, and their task is to simply provide information, and in that way they raise human well-being. But the alternative argument, which goes back to Thorstein Veblen and others, is that exposing people to a lot of advertising raises their aspirations—and makes them feel that their own lives, achievements, belongings, and experiences are inadequate. This study supports the negative view, not the positive one."


I am currently working with marketing.

But I am happy I actually DO give information... My job consists of finding what people need (not want, but literally need), and tell them we can provide it.

Usually people that call the company where I work, thank us for having the product and the ads, sometimes they say they searched for days and then found our ads.

That said... we sell industrial parts, mostly for the maintenance of existing machines, so it is easy to not have any ethical trap... But it is not THAT profitable either... (just for comparison: I know a guy that works filming TV ads, and he said politicians pay for 30 second ads to his company, the same income my company has for several months summed...)


Thank you, this kind of advertisement is the one kind that is actually useful and needed. Search engines etc are a surprisingly bad way to find these kind of products (if you even realize it exists and can describe it).


> their task is to simply provide information

Hilarious, when advertisements provide so incredibly little information, except how the product looks when held by attractive people, or driven by them along empty roads. And what little information they do provide, comes in tiny font after an asterisk at the bottom of the ad, that they were legally forced to include.


I guess I just think it's funny that we need scientific studies for blatantly disingenuous claims: "their task is to simply provide information and in that way they raise human well-being."

It's like doing a scientific study on the common claim of advertisers that "the internet would not exist without advertising".


The research wasn't done to test a "blatantly disingenuous" claim, it was done to determine the effect of advertising on mood.

They're able to quantify how much of an effect it has on happiness as well.

"Our analysis shows that if you doubled advertising spending, it would result in a 3% drop in life satisfaction. That’s about half the drop in life satisfaction you’d see in a person who had gotten divorced or about one-third the drop you’d see in someone who’d become unemployed."

That's a pretty significant amount, and if confirmed could certainly be used as an argument to regulate advertising, or a way for therapists to help improve the lives of their patients, or in many additional ways I haven't thought of in the 30 seconds I've spent thinking about it.

I wouldn't be so quick to be dismissive of "blatantly obvious" scientific studies.


You're right, this could be a useful statistic to use in an argument, especially to data driven people, like advertisers themselves.


Honestly, I think the researchers are being much too diplomatic when marketing people have been quite open about how, for example, they manage to sell more toys by teaching children to nag their parents:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMDPql6rweo


Yes, advertising creates a tension by creating needs. Excessive tension creates stress, which leads to unhappiness.


In practice: probably, yea.

In principle: not necessarily? Needs and dissatisfaction can be pre-existing, but advertising is basically the only effective way for people to find out that options exist.


It is.


New animated ads and videos in the street are just horrible. Eyes follow movement automatically. You have to consciously avert you gaze constantly to not look into them. Two hours in the city and you start feeling tired from the cognitive load and the resistance towards impulse buy decreases a little.

* Walking on the street looking down is the only defense in the streets.

* Online only ad-blockers keep you sane.


The book 'The Space Merchants' (1952) from Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth describes this type world.

World is run by ad companies (FB, Google,...) who select political leaders. People have to be careful on the street not to be trapped by highly aggressive ads.


In fiction I also liked Richard K Morgan's take on holographic advertising in Altered Carbon.


Rugged screens that can be built right into pavement are coming I'm sure.


Waiting for unskippable ads that pause if you take your eyes off the screen. The tech is already there now that we all have face scanners in our cellphones.


I remember a while back seeing an ad for smart toilets. Somewhat intrigued, I googled for them and found that a good many of them cost several grand.

I remember thinking "who the hell are they advertising to?" No average person is going to spend that money on a smart toilet, and I'm sure even the upper middle class has better purchases to make in that price range.

Also I've noticed everything in commercials is so idyllic. A nice house in a beautiful setting, with a functional family. People just buying each other cars as Christmas gifts. It's kinda distressing to realize that most people, including myself will never have this (in part, because I dont think it exists)


That stuff exists, it just costs a lot of money. Well, except for a functional family, money can't buy that. Want a house that looks clean and perfectly staged all the time? Hire a full-time cleaner to come every day and sweep, pick up, do the dishes, etc.

The lie in those commercials is that their target audience can never afford something like that. So in a sense, you're right, they're showing "you" what you can never have.


You can also keep your house clean and perfectly staged all the time by cleaning it yourself. It's not impossible, or even difficult.


Well, duh. I kinda thought that went without saying.

But it's work. And if you have 4 kids and 3600 sqft McMansion that aspires to be one of those beautiful, large homes in the commercial with the car with over-sized bow out front, you'll spend most your time doing that. But that's not what people want. They want a perfect, clean home and to be able to spend all their free time on leisure activities, just like the commercial promised them.


Clearly you don't have little kids in your house.


Yes, but what are you giving up to do that?


Video games and Netflix, for most people. I really don't think the trade-off between Netflix time and house cleanliness is a false perception synthesized by advertisers.


Netflix and videogsmes are very passive activities, and time cleaning your house presumably isn't fungible with them, from a mental energy perspective. I'm not in the habit of watching TV, but my sister is a good example: over the course of her medical education and early career, her Netflix addiction has tracked pretty directly with how mentally exhausting her workload is. If she was at full-enough capacity during Netflix time to be cleaning house, she'd be spending it on one of her hobbies, or reading.


Studies on ego depletion have failed to replicate, which means that the idea of a limited supply of mental energy may not be true.


Studies on ego depletion have nothing to do with the post you are responding to.


> Video games and Netflix, for most people.

"Most people"? Even if that's true (which I don't think it is) you have to admit that there's a significant portion of the population for whom that isn't the tradeoff.

I probably spend 1 or 2 hours a week on Netflix, and I haven't spent a significant amount of time per week on video games in years, so your proposed tradeoff isn't the tradeoff in my life.

> I really don't think the trade-off between Netflix time and house cleanliness is a false perception synthesized by advertisers.

Really? You haven't seen any ads for video games or Netflix? I go to fairly extensive lengths to avoid seeing ads and I have seen both.


Not much. Cleaning your house counts as excercise too. It's every bit as healthy as walking and then some because your using your whole body, and squating and moving around.


i mean, yeah if you're 60+, cleaning your house is good exercise. But let's not pretend that cleaning your house is exercise for anyone under 60.


it really can be. It can be as vigorous as a walk down the street which is tremendously beneficial to your health. I know we've been conditioned to believe that excercise needs to be something specific like running or swimming, or tennis, etc. But, you just need to move your body. even gardening can be beneficial - the benefits of squating down are vastly underestimated.


A walk down the street is not enough to reach any level of physical fitness, although it's certainly good for you and better than nothing.


What you say is true, for someone over 60. For people without accessibility issues, a walk down the street is not vigorous and neither is cleaning your house.

It certainly is better than NOT walking, but pretending like walking down the street or cleaning your house is exercise is disingenuous.


The traditional home with a stay at home housewife readily delivers this result. I was raised in one, growing up all my childhood friends would visit once and never want to return saying things like "your house is like a museum, everything's clean and you're not allowed to touch anything or make any noise." Which didn't bother me one bit, I wanted to play at other homes anyways, they were absolutely correct, it was miserably dull.


> The traditional home with a stay at home housewife readily delivers this result.

It's the same amount of work.


it barely exists. Most houses don't look nice at all, that 's just because there's little demand for nice looking houses - it's just space people are after with lots of concrete and garages.


There are people in the middle class that I call "uni-purchasers". They buy one very expensive thing, and that's their "thing" that they spend their limited amounts of money on. They give up on medium-level experiences and draw everything else to a minimum to get the thing they really want.


Smart toilet not the best example, but I can get tremendous joy from buying something high quality and knowing that this thing could last my entire lifetime.

Buying that product once forever removes my need to crave for an upgrade (unless it breaks, of course).

My 98yr grandma inspired this behavior. She bought her kitchen utensils as a young mother, and used them forever. Her wooden cutting board is now so worn, that its thinned and almost breaks in half. Yet not a hair on her head would want to replace it until that happens.


When I started my first business, a mentor gave me advice along these lines: identify the two or three pieces of equipment that are truly key to your business, and go high-end on those. Everything else should be as cheap as possible.


Those types of goods usually aren't mass advertised, e.g. high end music or video gear, mechanic's tools, etc.

Peleton bikes, smart toilets, diamond rings, high-end purses, and so on are all things you can get the cheaper versions of and still get roughly the same experience.


Sometime, people choose a product/band over the alternatives solely because their choice is more expensive, so others will appreciate or jealous on them...


Generally I agree. It is important to know though, that there's a thin line between high end and luxury-brand where you pay a lot of money for the latter.


True. By "high end", what's meant is genuinely high quality, not necessarily flashy or luxury brands.


That is a lot, however I can see a smart toilet being a reasonable cost during a bathroom renovation (I assume you are referring to the type that wash your behind and are standard in Japan.) Although since a toilet is an easy thing to install afterwards, unlike bath, sinks, and shower, then the purchase may just be delayed a year (and then another year...)


I think this video points out Epicurus' opinions on advertisement https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L3dLWwmDDw.

I don't have time to re-watch the video, but I remember the gist being that the _point_ of advertisements is to make you feel like you're missing out on something. If an ad can't make you feel that way, how will it sell you on its product? Someone who feels they have everything doesn't need to purchase anything to fill a need/want.

Really it's simple when you think about it. Company wants to sell you a product. You think you don't need anything else in your life because you're content. Company tells you your life could be better with their product; therefore, your life is missing something (said product). You are no longer content until you have said product.

It's nice to have evidence that supports an idea proposed centuries ago.


I have a hard time relating to these findings.

Advertisement almost never works on me. And, the few times it does work on me, I'm actually quite glad and appreciative because I only buy products I really want or really need.

If I look at all my credit card, amazon and ebay purchases for the last several years, which i do often, i see it's just the things I need/want: gas, maintenance, groceries a few times going out to eat, etc. almost 0 merchandise, those things don't make me happier.

It's pretty rare that I see an appealing advertisement (to me). but it does happen.

ads don't really say much about the product. but, I do find them interesting because they say a huge amount about segments of our population: their hopes, their dreams, their perceptions, how they want to be seen, how much they care what others think, etc. it's a great case study for humanity.


"Advertising doesn't work on me" is a lie that nearly everyone tells themselves. Advertisers love this.

Ads rarely makes anyone rush out to go buy x out of the blue, but if someone is choosing between x product and y product, they're much more likely to pick x if has been advertised to them before. The substance of the ad is almost irrelevant; just because they've heard the name of x repeatedly before, they're much more likely to choose it.


Your might be right about most people. (advertisers love to tell this to their CEO but they've been wrong about this before - just look at the 20 million dollar case study with Ebay and their wasted ad spend on google ads).

But, it really doesn't work on me 99.9% of the time. I know because I review all my spending habits and I can clearly see 1/2 of the products I buy don't even advertise. Ever seen an ad for cucumbers or tomatoes or other real food? or rotten robbies gas station? i have no idea what label is on my clothes. etc.

And even on the rare occasions when it does work, the vast majority of the ads still are completely wasted. How many times have I seen an ad for metromile, when I'm already a happy customer of theirs. their targetting must be awful.

Sometimes I use the product because I'm forced to: like when sharebuilder got bought out by etrade. how many times will I see the completely useless etrade ads over my lifetime? i mean I'm already their customer (by default), so all their ad dollars are completely wasted.


I doubt the only products you buy are cucumbers, tomatoes and gas. You've chosen your phone, laptop, car, and various other branded items. Advertising very likely played a role in your decisions there.

How can you actually be sure that advertising doesn't work on you? Of course, you don't see an ad on TV for a new smart fridge and immediately jump out of your sofa, wallet in hand, to go buy it. But the key thing is that _nobody does_. That's not the point. The idea is that six months down the line when your fridge breaks irreparably and you're deciding between different brands, those ads will have an influence, and you won't realise it.

People who think advertising doesn't work on them _are godsends to advertisers_. This article puts it quite well, although I don't agree with its conclusions[0]:

"If you don’t believe advertising works on you, you are going to be more likely to see good advertising as something else entirely and be more receptive to it and thusly more likely to take the action I want you to take."

There was a study a few months ago which found that people who think they are immune to advertising are more susceptible to it than average, but I can't find a link. It was one of the things that changed my opinion on this: I also used to think I was not susceptible to most advertising, but this is a dangerous mentality. You just don't think you're susceptible. I've come around to thinking Bill Hicks was completely right on this [1]

Also with the Metromile point, that's not bad targeting. Ads are often targeted at existing users of the ads product. The point is to keep brand loyalty and limit buyer's remorse.

[0] https://medium.com/@dahanese/advertising-works-don-t-believe... [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHEOGrkhDp0


I'm not your typical consumer. I buy the cheapest thing of each category unless there's an overwhelming reason not to. Computer: macbook pro (not because of ads but because I had to in order to develop for apple products), phone: Iphone - got it for free as a handme down from my wife. Very few of the groceries I buy have labels on them: it's all fresh fruit, veggies, things from the bulk section, almost nothing in the grocery store I've bought is advertised. I don't eat processed food or any kind of food that comes in a box or prepackaged bag. When my fridge breaks down I will buy the cheapest fridge I can find unless there's data that shows some fridges are more reliable than others. I buy maybe 2 pairs of pants per decade, and when I do buy clothes it's usually at used clothing store, and I don't pay any attention to what the label says other than the size and type of material.

Brand almost never ever comes into my decision making process. that's why its so hard for me to believe. I buy the cheaper one every time unless there's overwhelming reason not to. Frankly, I don't understand how this isn't the default behaviour for everyone.

The only areas where advertising works on me is on the following (when they actually give me information about products I actually want): occassionally on movies (but even then it's a small percentage ~ most of the time i get whatevers i find on fandango ~ i've even missed some movies i wanted to watch because the ads didn't reach me or I forgot), occassionally the restaurant coupons (half price), metromile, maybe banking (since that actually does require trust) .

Metromile is wasting their money by retargetting me. I'll leave the second I find another insurance that's cheaper - I have absolutely 0 brand loyalty for almost everything. If anything, they're just reminding me to check around for cheaper services that may pop up.

Utility bills -> no choice therefore ads don't matter. Housing -> found on zillow . Zillow itself, someone told me about it (not advertisement).

phone plan - i really had to hunt to find usmobile - 8$/month for 100 minutes, 100 messages. I can't even imagine how much money the telecom industry has squandered on me without any effect at all.

ISP - At&t hits me ads all the time, and everytime I'm just reminded about how evil they are and I check around to see if there's any other better broadband providers besides the one I'm using right now. so their ads are actually having the opposite of the desired effect, same with comcast.

The reason all these ads don't affect me is because they all appeal to Emotion and unverifiable information. And that's not how I generally make my decisions.

For example, when at&t says they have the best network, that's completely useless to me because I can't verify that it's true, or at least it's hard to do so.

Because most ads appeal based on emotion and I don't use emotion to make my buying decisions, it means they simply don't work.


Advertising readily exploits low price consumers like you, too.

First of all, they find ways to drop quality. At first they have the good deal for a limited time. This results in social proofing - good reviews and customer approvals - that theirs is the exceptional choice - quality at low price. Then they downgrade it. But because you were already buying it, you won't look the next time.

Second, they find ways to engineer deals that lead you down a path of more expensive dependencies. You go to the supermarket, and you get your veggies, and you see a sign saying "best enjoyed with" - and there's a product. Maybe one you know and are familiar with, maybe one you don't. Regardless, you see the sign and the message and you start wondering, "am I enjoying my veggies less because I'm doing it wrong?"

The dairy industry has succeeded at this for decades, crafting all sorts of narratives about the necessity for milk, the pleasure of milk, how milk lets you have moments shared with friends. It doesn't have to have a brand name attached to reach you and reprogram you.


I don't think everyone is fooled by these types of maneuvers. Ye olde cable bundle model isn't going to fool a truly pragmatic person, even if it manifests itself in the grocery store. The drop in quality thing is something to explicitly watch for and expect, especially when the bait and switch you describe happens routinely on sites like Amazon these days.

Once you are aware of the many different ways an ad can manifest, they become uncanny. It becomes a game to spot them, and to think about why this ad was bought to run at this particular time and place. I see that ad for california walnuts playing out in public, and it feels absolutely dystopian. I think they say "heart-heatlhy, california walnuts" about a half dozen times in the clip, like a mantra. The spell is broken if you ever read about the nut industry's water use, and connect the dots with the ever present threat of drought in california, and climate change worsening it all.


It's a fallacy to think that higher priced items are higher quality: people fall for this all the time. Those high priced jeans and that 20$ fancy pizza might be made of equally bad stuff as a 5$ little ceasers, you won't know unless you investigate.

And, low quality isn't always bad. Even the cheapest t-shirt and jeans in the world can last years if not decades: I know because I have them. I don't need to switch to another product because of "low quality".

Maybe I'm just less susceptible, but I've never thought: "am I enjoying my veggies less because I'm doing it wrong?" due to a sign in the grocery store.

As for milk, people talk about the 100s of milk choices. I don't see that at all. I don't drink cows milk. I see there's only 2 types of soy milk to choose from. And both of them contain added calcium sulfate. I have to go to a specialty store just to get unadulterated soy milk.

And, I simply don't let ads tell me what's pleasurable and what's not.

Now, reminder advertising could theoretically work on me. If there was an ad reminding me to buy certain types of veggies (cucumbers, spinach, broccoli, etc) just as I was running out. But my tastes and interests are so far removed from the average person that 99.99% of the ads are for things I would simply never buy and thus they are ineffective (how often do you see ads on the TV for fresh veggies or fruits or beans? ~ I rarely if ever see one).

Almost Everything people know about dairy is false, I've been saying that for years. The list of lies goes on and on: "Great for your bones", "part of a balanced breakfast", "High in calcium" (it is but your body can't absorb most of it), "good for your health (it's actually strongly linked to prostate cancer)", "Vitamin-D" (vitamin-D isn't even a vitamin, it's a hormone your body can produce all on it's own with exposure to sunlight).

So all those messages from the dairy industry are falling on MY deaf ears. Ads don't tell you about their product (at least not honestly most of the time), they tell you more about the people buying the product.

And, on top of all that, for all the talk of ads being everywhere, i don't get many intrusive ads. I don't have cable or any other paid subscriptions. there's almost no billboards where i live. the books i read don't contain any. hackernews has very few ads, etc.

if advertisers knew anything about me at all, they'd avoid targetting me to save money on useless ad spend. lolz maybe that's why I don't get much ads.


I think there is a segment of the population that aren't consumers in the traditional sense. For instance, my computer is an 8 year old macbook, and my phone is a 4 year old iphone. My headphones are 5 years old with a wire, and will be just as good at producing sound 50 years from now. I'm not pining for an upgrade in any of these cases. When I needed more performance for my use cases, I bought the cheapest 8gb sticks of ram and SSD I could find, and did the installation and reimaging myself.

Clothing wise, I only replace my pants when they threadbare at the knees, end up with a plethora of free t shirts, and get the odd sweatshirt at uniqlo every couple of years because it's cheap and decently durable. I bought my formal wear a decade ago and I haven't gotten any fatter, so I'm not hurting for a new suit every couple of years.

Foodwise, I only buy store brand because it's the same stuff but cheaper due to a lack of a marketing budget, and although I do order takeout it's not like I was wooed by the targeted advert for the local indian place—I was wooed by seeing them throwing the naan at the back of the tandoori right in the restaurant. I always opt for pickup instead of app based delivery which can cost more than the entree.

In college, I used my highschool beater to get groceries, these days I use public transport and don't own a car. But if I did have a use for a car, I'd go with another beater over spending multiples more to go between the exact same points A and B in the exact same time using about the same amount of gas. Never wrapped my head around why people even buy new cars, unless handsfree bluetooth audio really is worth dropping another 10 grand or more.

Other than that, I only really spend money on experiences, not material goods. I guess you could say then that I'm not immune to an event ad, like if my favorite musician comes to town, but that's really a notice rather than the modern interpretation of advertisement. I see an ad for some blue tint glasses or a subscription box for hatchets and leather products, I think, 'what the hell is the point?' Based on other comments in this thread, I get the sense that I'm not alone with this mentality.


I like your post and think this is common attitude towards consumption among some techies, but I find it interesting that laptop brand still gets mentioned.


Well it is information significant to compatibility so it actually has functional value to know. Unlike clothes brands - it isn't like if you (deliberately mangling brand associations to be nonsensical) wear Victoria's Secret Pants with a Stetson Jacket they will not work or catch on fire due to incompatability.


the fact that it's a macbook means you can develop apps for apple products whereas any other labtop that would be extremely difficult to do, if not impossible.


There's a concept in the marketing world named "reminder advertising."

Forgive me if I botch some of the details, but a few decades back Coca-Cola conducted an experiment where they tracked, in excruciating detail, all coke sales in a small town for a month. Then they turned all the ads off. All the television ads, newspaper ads, all the signs and and all the billboards. Coke sales immediately dropped ~30%.

Everyone knows what Coca-Cola is, and yet they have one of the largest advertising budgets in the world. You think that split second decision at the restaurant last week where you asked for a Coke instead of a water, a beer, or a Pepsi was of your own volition, but it very well may have been because you drove past a coke billboard on your way to work that morning, or because you saw a commercial a couple weeks ago.

Everyone thinks advertising doesn't work on them, but human psychology is tremendously complex and chock-full of easily exploitable bugs.


Or that pepsi bought up all the new ad space that month, or just de facto became the only beverage advertiser, and reaped the benefits. The real experiment would be for everyone in the beverage sector to stop advertising for a month and see what equilibrium is reached.


but it needs to be a reminder for something you actually want. I've never purchased a coco-cola or any other soda in my entire life and never will, no matter how much they advertise to me.

Now, if they advertised some nice veggies or fresh fruit that could work but how often do you see ads for that? and how much are those veggies going to cost after all that advertisement? will it be cost effective in comparison to the veggies that didn't advertise? (i'm guessing not, otherwise they'd have done it by now, right?)

Ads are targeted at the masses. If most/all your interests deviate from the norm, ads won't be effective.


The question would then be if marketing works on you. Do you know the brand of your clothes? Your computer?

Sometimes, brand and make/model are very tied together. As an example, I love cherry blue switches on my keyboards. Often, though, pants are pants.

And don't forget that advertising and marketing is a probabilities game. Nothing about an individual can really help understand the crowd. Even if the crowd is easy to control, at large.


When this topic comes up I like to remind people of the brilliant and under appreciated movie Roger Dodger. The main character in it is an advertising executive and he flat out said that his job is to convince people their lives sucked. First you have to convince someone their life sucks and then it is quite easy to convince them that the latest product will improve their lives.

This is the way advertising works.


Mad men is great, too; it's positioned right at the bellwether moment of market research and psychology taking over whimsy narratives in advertisement in the 1960s.


That's the core of Buddha's teaching right there. Craving leads to suffering/dissatisfaction and advertisement is all about increasing craving for a product. The more things you crave, the more things you cannot get. And the things you cannot get give rise to negative feelings like jealousy, sadness and even frustration.


This makes sense, given that a very large amount of (most?) advertising intentionally attempts to make you feel bad about something, in order to make you more likely to buy their "solution".


Even if you yourself are not too directly affected by advertising, it can still affect your friends and family members. Collectively, it can create expectations and social pressure on you which makes your life less pleasant and more complicated than it needs to be.


For a few weeks now, the billboards (including video billboards...) at train stations in the Netherlands are blank, due to a legal issue[1]. I take the train multiple times a week and I think it's very pleasant. Unfortunately it won't last.

[1] There was a bid held between two ad companies, a third company sued because they wanted to get included in the bid, too.


I'm gonna take the contrarian viewpoint here. Full disclosure: I'm in advertising.

The researcher states that increasing "aspiration" (their term) leads to dissatisfaction and more unhappiness. Sure! But aspiration is also why we invented the wheel, harnessed fire, founded fancy schools like Harvard, try to be good parents, etc. I don't disagree that ambition and aspiration can make a person unhappy. But it's also what drives literally all human progress.

So unless you believe primitive man was living their best life and that everything that has happened since then is a regression (and certainly some people hold that view), I find it hard to swallow that aspirations are a bad thing.

Yes, there's a negative to them. But virtually every good thing people have ever done was because of their aspirations.

Therefore I don't agree with the notion that advertising is inherently bad because it raises people's expectations for themselves. I consider that a good thing even if it comes at the cost of a decrease in personal happiness.

HOWEVER (I can feel your hatred), there's a difference between motivating people to aspire to better things vs simply making them feel shitty about themselves so they'll buy your crap.

ex: When a fashion brand shows impossibly attractive people wearing their clothes, they're not showing us how to live better lives. They're simply making us feel shitty for not being models, and then hoping we'll make the conclusion that we'd look better if we bought those clothes. That doesn't make anyone's life better. That's just a shit sandwich all around.

ex: When a tech company shows us a bunch of people being really productive using their products, it can inspire us to want to be more productive. If their product truly can make us more productive (like the invention of the PC... no reasonable person would argue that PCs didn't make us more productive, right?), then that's great.

ex: Pharmaceutical drugs have been a fantastic boon for humanity. We rely on them constantly to extend our lives and improve our quality of life. Yet some (many?) drugs are nowhere near as beneficial as they are advertised (I'm looking at you, Fentanyl).

So I think the question is simply: does the product actually improve our lives in the way the advertising suggests? Or is it just a bait-and-switch?

Advertising isn't inherently bad, any more than aspirations are inherently bad. It boils down to what's being advertised and how honest the ads are about it.


> But aspiration is also why we invented the wheel, harnessed fire, founded fancy schools like Harvard, try to be good parents, etc.

Excluding fancy schools (which I believe aren't exactly a good thing), none of those things were inspired by "aspiration" in the sense being used here. They were inspired by genuine need.

> I consider that a good thing even if it comes at the cost of a decrease in personal happiness.

We could not possibly disagree more. I think it is straight-up immoral for anyone to intentionally make another's life worse in order to sell them stuff.

> Advertising isn't inherently bad, any more than aspirations are inherently bad. It boils down to what's being advertised and how honest the ads are about it.

We agree here. Advertising, in the form that advertisers tend cite to people who are critical of advertising (informing people about products) is not inherently bad.

However, the vast majority of advertising isn't of that form at all. It's of the form of manipulating people instead. That's the sort of advertising that is terrible.


>Excluding fancy schools (which I believe aren't exactly a good thing), none of those things were inspired by "aspiration" in the sense being used here. They were inspired by genuine need.

Is sending out status signals to attract a mate or business partners a genuine need?


That depends on what mean by "status signals". If you mean attending a fancy school or owning trendy stuff, then no. Most people manage to attract mates and get business partners without doing that.


I was trying to point out the nebulousness of the term "genuine need". The fact that fancy schools and trendy stuff exist must be providing some utility. Of course, some more than others.

For example, "fancy" (I assume you are referring to selective schools) provide the utility of providing an easy way to discriminate between those who have the traits to get into those schools vs those who don't. Seeing as how they have vastly higher levels of economic success, I can only conclude it's definitely providing utility that someone wants (or "needs").

Similarly with fancy cars or whatnot, it can serve as a proxy to quickly ascertain someone's socioeconomic status. Obviously, a copy of one's credit report and statement of accounts serves a better purpose, but it's not the recommended method for various reasons.


Let's not equate a fancy degree with a fancy car. A college education is only partially about the line you append to your resume. Working with people at the front of an intellectual field is a life changing experience that you can leverage to open far more doors than a degree ever could.


> We could not possible disagree more. I think it is straight-up immoral for anyone to intentionally make another's life worse in order to sell them stuff.

I'm not sure we disagree, actually. I think you may be misunderstanding my meaning.

When I tell you about a product, a number of things are happening:

1. If I'm successful in getting you to want the product, I've created (or emphasized an existing) dissatisfaction. That's not good. But:

2. I've given you the knowledge of a solution to your problem. Depending on the problem at hand, the solution might improve your health, extend your life, help you earn more money, be a better parent, donate to a charity, etc.

So I think if you want to stand in judgment of the morality of advertising, it has to be done on a case by case basis, and you have to weigh all the pros and cons.

I'll give you an example of a type of advertising that will clearly decrease your happiness but is still a net positive. (Impossible, right?)

Take a look at any ad for any charity. Those ads make your life worse by telling you how miserable things are for some group of people or animals or some other cause. And even if you "buy" what the ads are selling (i.e. you give them money), you're still going to feel like garbage about their cause. And yet, I'm willing to bet you wouldn't consider those ads to be evil, would you?

It's an extreme example, but it illustrates my point: you have to consider more than just happiness.

Here's a more extreme example: If all I cared about was making people happy, I'd sell heroin. Heroin feels awesome. Heroin makes people happy. It also destroys their lives in the process. Some addicts manage to be happy all the way to their death bed.

So happiness is not the end-all-be-all measurement of what is good and what is bad. It's definitely A measurement. I'm not discounting it. I'm just saying there are other things to consider as well, and I don't personally consider it the #1 most important measurement. (It's probably in my top 5.)


> I've given you the knowledge of a solution to your problem.

But you've given a "solution" (that involves separating me from my money) to a problem that you created in the first place. I don't see how that's a good thing.

> And yet, I'm willing to bet you wouldn't consider those ads to be evil, would you?

"Evil" isn't the word I'd use. "Immoral" is. If a charitable organization is using ads that are intentionally trying to make me feel bad (as opposed to merely informing me), then those ads don't suddenly become acceptable just because it's a charitable organization. The ends don't justify the means. Interestingly enough, although I donate to charitable organization reasonably heavily, I long ago decided not to donate to ones that engage in such advertising, for precisely this reason.

> If all I cared about was making people happy, I'd sell heroin.

No, you wouldn't, because doing so will make people unhappy, not happy. "Feeling good" is a very different thing than happiness, particularly if you're only looking at the near term.


> But you've given a "solution" (that involves separating me from my money) to a problem that you created in the first place.

When did I create a problem? Yes, some advertising invents nonexistent problems and I thought I was clear that this shit is evil. That's a different thing from saying "that headache you have sucks, doesn't it? here's some tylenol"

> No, you wouldn't, because doing so will make people unhappy, not happy.

Way to miss the point, dude.


Imagine being overweight and being told by an absolute stranger, "gee, you look bad. come join my gym, you'd look like this ripped guy." Prick, right?

People have dissatisfactions, but only advertisements have the audacity to point them out as a complete stranger. Even if a loved one did that, you might recoil. when people are unhappy about something, they will share it with someone they trust if they want to talk about it. Advertisements get a free pass to nose into your life and be your mother? Please.


I actually agree. Which is why my first comment on this thread said this:

> HOWEVER (I can feel your hatred), there's a difference between motivating people to aspire to better things vs simply making them feel shitty about themselves so they'll buy your crap.

There are lots of different ways to motivate people. Lying is one of them. Making them feel bad about themselves works too. I don't support either of those approaches.

So to use your example about the gym, I strongly dislike most fitness/health advertising for the very reasons you state. If I were to run ads for that industry, I'd focus on the effort of regular everyday people. I wouldn't show impossibly perfect (and mostly photoshopped) people. I'd show people from across the whole spectrum pushing themselves, waking up early to hit the gym. I'd focus on health, not "beauty". On working out so you can have more energy, fewer health complications, greater strength, etc. I wouldn't run ads that tell you "you should work out because it's the only way you could ever look like this model over here".

But that's just me. I don't know if my approach would work, because I haven't had the opportunity to try it yet. (Not a lot of fitness brands looking for an ad agency in Northern Ontario.)


> That's a different thing from saying "that headache you have sucks, doesn't it? here's some tylenol"

It is indeed different. I was responding to this:

> 1. If I'm successful in getting you to want the product, I've created (or emphasized an existing) dissatisfaction. That's not good. But:

> 2. I've given you the knowledge of a solution to your problem.

Where you appeared to be justifying creating dissatisfaction on the basis that you are providing a solution to that dissatisfaction. I'm sorry if I misunderstood your point here.

> Way to miss the point, dude.

I suppose that I did -- and I still do, because I don't see how my reply was unresponsive.


> Where you appeared to be justifying creating dissatisfaction on the basis that you are providing a solution to that dissatisfaction. I'm sorry if I misunderstood your point here.

Touché. I did say that. Balderdash.

My point (poorly stated) was that while I think it's cruel to create a problem where it doesn't exist, it's not cruel to promote the solution to a real problem that already exists. However, promoting the solution involves reminding you of the problem, which creates or emphasizes a dissatisfaction you may have been ignoring.

> I suppose that I did -- and I still do, because I don't see how my reply was unresponsive.

My point in using heroin as an example was to say there are plenty of ways to create happiness that aren't necessarily beneficial in the long run.

Perhaps some better examples would be:

- Sitting on the beach all day

- Not exercising

- Spending every dollar I have today and ignoring my future needs

All of these would lead to me being happy for a while. But eventually they're detrimental. Yes?


Woah now, I would completely disagree, heroin does not make you happy, short term pleasure is not the same thing. New information which helps people is inherently a good thing, but can be obtained through other means than ads, i.e. word of mouth. The fact is that most ads are targeted badly and thus useless for most people, and the targeted ads that do help some are breaches of privacy, the better the ad the more information you must know about the person, which leads to all types of misuse of information.

Ads also give large companies leverage to destroy small companies. Basically if two entities are trying to compete, if one has more money, and a worse product, then they have the ability to out compete the smaller company specifically by spending more on advertisements.

The incentive model for advertisments is to take away as much privacy as possible from you (which we have seen in practice) and removes the effectiveness of the free market to function properly. Case in point, we should completely remove ads and only have new information from word of mouth or people who are willing to be paid for their time.


So your position is that without advertising, large companies would have no means to crush their competition?

1. They'd simply undercut their prices, as they do now.

2. Advertising can level the playing field when the smaller competitor understands the game they're playing. There are countless examples of now-major brands that started out as the underdog but put out really creative work. Truly creative work can radically outperform your average ad campaign, but they're risky. Which is why the major brands play it safe and can't produce the outstanding work.

As for the whole privacy/targeting thing, I'm not defending that one. I 100% agree that it's gone way too bloody far. I was perfectly happy with ads that were targeted based purely on the content being presented rather than the creepy profiles that a lot of media companies keep on all of us.


I think that the aspirations that almost all advertisements give to people are actively harmful in every possible way.

- It is the main revenue source of most mentally harmful products like social media. A replacement created for the good of the world paid for by taxes with open data would be much preferred.

- Has masked how the world really functions via out-right lies and deception. Coke makes you happy, Happy Cows come from California, Diamonds must be given to show love

- Allows people with the most money to have the most likely chance of getting elected.

- Uses your personal information so that they are more likely to sell you things.

- Drug should not be advertised. Why the would a doctor want their patient to ask them for a specific drug???

- Convinced people that single use garbage should have a place in our society.

I am sure there are many more negatives, but for now I think this will suffice.

Perhaps with enough regulation many of these things could be changed, but I don't see it happening. Advertising can be used for good, see anti-smoking ads, but in its current state it is all bad. I can't think of an aspiration an ad has given me which gave me a problem to fix instead of a reason to consume.


Since you cherry picked the worst examples, let me cherry pick some of the best:

- Ads for charities - Political ads (which are only good or bad if you agree or disagree with their positions) - Ads for schools - Movie trailers (a form of entertainment in it of themselves)

Also: I suspect (but don't have the means to prove) a positive correlation between advertising spending and national GDP.

Look, if your point is that capitalism is evil, I'm not gonna argue it. But in a free market, advertising creates jobs. It builds companies. It builds economies.

When that advertising-free socialist utopia shows up that somehow isn't an evil dictatorship, let me know! Sounds awesome.


> Also: I suspect (but don't have the means to prove) a positive correlation between advertising spending and national GDP.

Is the implication that you believe that's causal? That you think reducing advertising spending would be economically detrimental?

I suspect that isn't true, since it's basically just an arms race. Companies are forced into competing along the axis of marketing (they also choose to since it's more effective than competing on quality), which is a huge money sink.

Also being anti-advertising isn't anti-capitalist. Simply believing that a market should have rules doesn't mean you are anti-market. Personally, I really doubt that advertising is an effective means of job and growth creation. It might even be negative. I suspect capitalism would be healthier without it.

I highly doubt it increases overall consumption, it rather just orients buyers in particular directions, often directions that are detrimental to themselves and to society as a whole.


> Is the implication that you believe that's causal?

Less implication and more exactly what I was trying to say.

> I suspect that isn't true, since it's basically just an arms race.

You may be right, you may be wrong. But I don't understand how anyone can say advertising causes people to spend money on things they don't need and also that advertising does not positively impact the economy. Those seem contradictory, and yet that appears to be the argument being made.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


I did not cherry pick the worst examples, just the most common. Only one of your examples could possibly lead to a good aspiration in people, charities. Even that seems like a stretch though as many advertisements for charities are scams or to charities that only use a low percentage of the donation for the charities cause. It could push people to look up a list charities and donate, which is why it could be positive.

We don't need ads for schools or politicians a person should make their own choice based on impartial data and public debates. Movie trailers in and of themselves are not bad, but as advertisements they only drive people to consume. I can't say that they give positive aspirations.

Why do we need to be socialist or a utopia to ban most advertising?


Alright, clearly we don't have a shared understanding of what is good or bad. That's cool. I understand your position, even if I don't agree with it.

> Why do we need to be socialist or a utopia to ban most advertising?

You don't, as long as you don't mind a sudden drop in national GDP.


> You don't, as long as you don't mind a sudden drop in national GDP.

GDP is a terrible measure of how economy feels for the median person. A sudden drop in the GDP due to the lower classes saving money as a result of not being constantly bombarded with ads for net-negative goods seems like a win to me. Banning tobacco ads also caused the GDP to drop.


Ok, so how about "as long as you don't mind another recession"?


There's two things about recessions. First, they end. Second, it does not follow that banning/severely regulating advertising to consumers would trigger another recession.


Well, it seems to me you're trying to have it both ways.

Does advertising cause people to spend more than they would otherwise, or not?

If it does, then eliminating advertising would reduce spending which is what causes a recession.

If it doesn't, then what's all the fuss about?

Recessions in North America (can't speak for any other context unfortunately) have ended due to concerted efforts to get people to spend more: lowering interest rates mostly, forgiving debts, and political leaders outright telling people that their patriotic duty was to go out there and shop.

Looking around the world, it seems to me that many recessions didn't, in fact, end. Instead, their economies imploded entirely.

That's not a risk I'm interested in taking, personally. But you do, you rebel you.


> Does advertising cause people to spend more than they would otherwise, or not?

Yes, it does, though not as much as they wish they could spend. Hence the unhappiness. However, it also distorts the allocation of that spending.

> If it does, then eliminating advertising would reduce spending which is what causes a recession.

People would not stop buying stuff without advertising. They would be more likely to spend the money more on vacations/experiences. Trusted reviews would become a much larger industry. This is different from ads however, as it would be paid for by the consumer. I suppose companies could also pay the reviewer to include their product when doing a round-up of the various options, assuming that all of the competitors paid the same amount, there's no reason for the reviewer to be biased.

> Looking around the world, it seems to me that many recessions didn't, in fact, end. Instead, their economies imploded entirely.

How many of them were caused by banning/regulating direct-to-consumer advertising?


> Yes, it does, though not as much as they wish they could spend.

...is that not the cause of recessions?

> People would not stop buying stuff without advertising.

Outright "stop", no. Reduce, yes. How much of a reduction is anyone's guess, but I suspect it'd be by a whole lot more than anyone is comfortable with.

> How many of them were caused by banning/regulating direct-to-consumer advertising?

DTC is regulated, as all advertising is. Also I thought we were discussing all advertising, not DTC specifically, and I'm not sure what that specific category of marketing would bother you more than any other. Unless of course you're talking about all the online tracking, which I'm fully onboard with banning.


I feel slightly insulted by your point of view. You seem to be saying that advertising is like medicine, it might taste bad but it will end up being good for me in the end. Short of moving to a cabin in the woods, there is no way to actually escape advertising if I choose. And even limiting advertising takes a lot of effort.

I'm not just talking about ads on web pages - it's in movies, TV, on the sides of buildings, on the back of every car on the road, on every radio station, in every store, at every gas station, every few hundred yards on every interstate, every bus stop, every telephone pole, in every magazine and news paper.

I don't want to take this medicine, please stop shoving it down my throat. I'm perfectly happy without all of these healthy "aspirations" to guide me in my life.


> You seem to be saying that advertising is like medicine, it might taste bad but it will end up being good for me in the end.

Goodness me, no that's not what I'm saying and I apologize if that's how it came out.

The research paper said advertising leads to aspirations, and this is inherently bad because aspirations lead to unhappiness.

I'm saying aspirations are a good thing, regardless of their source. I didn't know this was a controversial position.

But I'm also agreeing that when advertising creates or emphasizes a non-existent problem to sell you something that doesn't benefit you in the long run, then that's a shitty thing to do. There are many laws in most countries that curb the worse examples of this, and we could almost certainly benefit from more of them (or stronger enforcement... I dunno, not a lawyer).

As for the quantity of advertising, I said this in another response as well: How do you intend to limit it? While any ban is obviously a negative to my business, on an ethical standpoint I'm fine with such a ban as long as it's complete. What I'm not ok with is saying "there can only be X number of ads" because THAT's when things get unfair. That's when the advertisers with the biggest pockets will get the advantage, because they'll be the only ones who can afford to buy such a limited supply of ads.


> As for the quantity of advertising, I said this in another response as well: How do you intend to limit it? While any ban is obviously a negative to my business, on an ethical standpoint I'm fine with such a ban as long as it's complete. What I'm not ok with is saying "there can only be X number of ads" because THAT's when things get unfair. That's when the advertisers with the biggest pockets will get the advantage, because they'll be the only ones who can afford to buy such a limited supply of ads.

Just because it's a hard problem to solve doesn't mean it's not a problem worth solving or that there is no solution. That said, I don't think just lowering the number of ads is really getting at what I'm saying.

Lowering the number of advertisements doesn't provide me with any more choice, it just makes the current situation less annoying (to whatever degree). If I want a particular thing, I can go out and search for it. I don't need to be told about that thing constantly when I have no initial desire for it.

Here is a concrete example. I enjoy films, but I don't watch network or cable television at home, so I generally don't have any idea what new movies are out there. However, when I decide that I feel like watching a movie, I go online and seek out the advertisements (trailers) for those movies. I do this by my own choice.

Another example is that I will sometimes check out the recommended videos on YouTube if I'm bored, and these are essentially advertisements for various content creators. Again, I make the specific choice to do this.

When I'm driving down the highway, my goal is to get somewhere, not find a local personal injury attorney, and yet I am forced to see sign after sign for these with absolutely no choice in the matter.


> Just because it's a hard problem to solve doesn't mean it's not a problem worth solving or that there is no solution.

Agreed.

> Lowering the number of advertisements doesn't provide me with any more choice, it just makes the current situation less annoying (to whatever degree). If I want a particular thing, I can go out and search for it. I don't need to be told about that thing constantly when I have no initial desire for it.

But in order for those products to be available when you go looking for them, those businesses have to actually exist. And for them to exist, they need a lot more customers than just you. And the #1 way businesses get more customers is... checks notes... advertising.

> Another example is that I will sometimes check out the recommended videos on YouTube if I'm bored, and these are essentially advertisements for various content creators. Again, I make the specific choice to do this.

How do those creators make their money?

Ad revenue.


Human aspiration is built-in, we don't need help via advertising to desire more from life. Everyone seems to have adopted fire and the wheel without a marketing campaign, after all.

Advertising may not be inherently bad, but given the scope and scale of modern advertising, one has to admit that we've gone too far. Google tells me we see about 5,000 ads per day, do you consider this a good or a bad thing? As a representative of your industry I'm curious to hear your thoughts.


> do you consider this a good or a bad thing? As a representative of your industry I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

I wouldn't presume to speak for my industry, but here are my thoughts and I appreciate being asked the question (as opposed to simply being attacked).

1. 5000 ads seems like too much, but I'm really not sure how we could arrive at what would be considered the right amount. 100? 5? 0? And even if we could, how would that get regulated, exactly? If we restricted it, who would decide who gets to advertise and who doesn't? Some may balk at this, but I feel that would lead to a form of censorship that none of us would appreciate. So the right number seems to be either zero or unlimited.

2. That said, some places have put full on bans on certain types of advertising. I'm ok with that. People seem to like it.

3. Most advertising (there are very few exceptions) fund various types of media. With the exception of state-funded media, advertising is the reason we have TV, radio, newspapers, social media, online news, YouTube, etc. Generally speaking, no one is willing to pay the full cost of the media we all consume. It's paid for by advertising. (You're welcome.) (If anyone brings up Netflix, tell me when exactly they intend to turn a profit and become a sustainable business?)

So is it good or bad? I maintain that, like most things in life, this should be judged on a case by case basis. Blanket judgments don't work.

> Human aspiration is built-in, we don't need help via advertising to desire more from life.

Yes and no. I get it if you don't think advertising contributes a net positive to human aspirations. But do you condemn teachers, preachers, and parents for trying to get people to aspire to greater things? Maybe the assumption is that advertising only promotes things that don't need promoting. I disagree, but I won't argue. But I have a hard time believing that your position is that no one should ever try to persuade anyone of anything because we're born with all the motivation we'll ever need. If that were the case, why are we even having this conversation?


> 3. Most advertising (there are very few exceptions) fund various types of media. With the exception of state-funded media, advertising is the reason we have TV, radio, newspapers, social media, online news, YouTube, etc. Generally speaking, no one is willing to pay the full cost of the media we all consume. It's paid for by advertising. (You're welcome.) (If anyone brings up Netflix, tell me when exactly they intend to turn a profit and become a sustainable business?)

I would greatly appreciate if advertising stopped funding "news" networks like CNN and Fox News. I think I could live happily in a world where Anderson Cooper isn't making 12 million dollars a year for being a news caster in-between ads for various prescription drugs.


How should they be funded instead?

I assure you their editorial departments would be overjoyed if you've discovered a new business model that works without advertising.


> How should they be funded instead?

> I assure you their editorial departments would be overjoyed if you've discovered a new business model that works without advertising.

A radical take: not all businesses currently funded by advertisement should exist.

A less radical take: if the audience feels that CNN/Fox/MSNBC provide a valuable service to them, they will be willing to pay for it directly. If "the people" feel that a news service benefits society as a whole, it can be funded through taxes, like the BBC.


So in an American context... NPR and PBS exclusively then? Because people have proven for quite a long time that they are not willing to foot the bill.

(I'm from Canada so our equivalent would be CBC and TVO.)

My guess is that if advertising was banned, the news media would become even more reliant on billionaires to keep them going, and I can't imagine that's healthy for a democracy. I know advertisers have impacted editorial decisions as well (especially really big advertisers who threaten to pull their ads), but I think that would be many times worse if a paper or TV station was entirely dependant on one or two people to stay afloat.


> So in an American context... NPR and PBS exclusively then? Because people have proven for quite a long time that they are not willing to foot the bill.

New York Times, The Young Turks, etc. If people aren't willing to foot the bill, then that's fine. The market-niche will be freed up for another business to take a better and more sustainable approach.

> My guess is that if advertising was banned, the news media would become even more reliant on billionaires to keep them going, and I can't imagine that's healthy for a democracy. I know advertisers have impacted editorial decisions as well (especially really big advertisers who threaten to pull their ads), but I think that would be many times worse if a paper or TV station was entirely dependant on one or two people to stay afloat.

Billionaires are not healthy for a democracy. The fact that the news media has to exploit their credibility with the audience to compete with a few wealthy individuals is a testament to that.


> If people aren't willing to foot the bill, then that's fine. The market-niche will be freed up for another business to take a better and more sustainable approach.

There's nothing stopping other business models to take hold, unless of course those business models are insufficient to support the operation.

Also, NYT is supported by a $250 million loan from billionaire Carlos Slim.


So you are replacing state benevolence with the advertising industry's benevolence :).

If the news/media organizations cannot survive and profit without either help, then shouldn't they be allowed to wither ? Instead of imposing this garbage on everyone, young ones included. Or do we consider them an essential industry now ?

BTW, that news is important is also a "need" created by advertising, so that, .... they can show more ads :).


> that news is important is also a "need" created by advertising, so that, .... they can show more ads :).

You don't consider the news to be an essential part of a democracy?

I've said enough about why I believe advertising is a net positive, so I'm not gonna retread that part.

But question the value of "the 5th estate" to society? That's a whole other level.


> Advertising isn't inherently bad, any more than aspirations are inherently bad. It boils down to what's being advertised and how honest the ads are about it.

They aren't honest about it.

An honest appraisal of a product would include all relevant information, including if a competitor's product is better or cheaper, or if the product has problems that might be worse than the solution. That's what Consumer Reports-type sites do, what friends/family do, what doctors/mechanics do, what minimalists do. It's not what advertisers do. The very most honest advertising is lying by omission, and most advertising is much worse than that.

If you were trying to help consumers find the best products, you'd work for an independent review site that accepts money from consumers rather than producers so that you're actually accountable to the people you help. Advertising isn't there to help consumers--it fundamentally is the wrong way to help consumers.


> Advertising isn't there to help consumers--it fundamentally is the wrong way to help consumers.

Advertising helps businesses. Businesses serve consumers. Businesses wouldn't spend a dime on advertising if it didn't need to in order to stay in business. Ergo, advertising serves consumers, albeit indirectly.

> They aren't honest about it.

Has any advertiser ever claimed to give you the full picture? Both sides of the argument? No, of course not. It's a sales pitch. You know it's a sales pitch. They know you know it's a sales pitch. They know that you know that they're only presenting the positive sales points. You know that they know that you know.

Where's the dishonesty, exactly?

It's like going on a date and saying "You know, sometimes I don't shave. Or brush my teeth. Or wear a nice outfit. I only did those to make a good impression. There's a really good chance there's someone better for you out there."

Of COURSE advertisers are putting their best foot forward.

Does your resume list every time you were ever late for work? When you signed up for a credit card, did you tell the bank that you were late on rent a few months ago? When you applied for post-secondary, did you tell them about that math tutor you needed to get through trig?

How freakishly up-front do you need the world to be to live up to your standards?


> Advertising helps businesses. Businesses serve consumers.

No, businesses serve themselves. Corporations are not your friends. Sometimes their interests align with consumers' but not always.

> Has any advertiser ever claimed to give you the full picture? Both sides of the argument? No, of course not. It's a sales pitch. You know it's a sales pitch. They know you know it's a sales pitch. They know that you know that they're only presenting the positive sales points. You know that they know that you know.

> Where's the dishonesty, exactly?

Your claim is basically that if they don't claim to tell the truth, and everybody knows they're lying, it's no longer lying.

> How freakishly up-front do you need the world to be to live up to your standards?

How about we start with something simple like not pretending that advertisers jamming their ads down my throat is an altruistic act?


Never claimed it was altruistic. Is altruism the only acceptable way to make a living?

And my claim, to be specific, is that I disagree with your definition of lying. So does the dictionary.


Look man, you responded within a context. Maybe you didn't claim they were being altruistic, but in context, you're posting in defense of statements made by people who are claiming altruism, or at least helpfulness, by advertisers.

If you want to argue that presenting partial information with the intent to deceive isn't within the strict lying, fine, I'll concede that pedantic point. That's a rather silly hill to die on, though: do we really care about the difference between two different ways advertisers might attempt to deceive us? I think it's pretty reasonable for me to say that I don't like people who try to deceive me, regardless of whether they do it by lying, or by presenting an unbalanced, partial section of the facts.


I honestly have no idea who claims advertising is altruistic. I don't know too many businesses or industries that could make such a claim about themselves. Yeah, I'm here to make money. Do you go to work out of an altruistic desire to help your employer? Or is that incidental to your goal of earning a living?

As for deception, I don't think we're going to agree, and I'm not going to try to change your mind. But for the sake of clarity:

- If I say something that is untrue, I consider that a lie and a deception. It's also illegal.

- If I say something is technically true but implies something that is untrue, I still consider that a deception. (For example, I recently saw an episode of Patriot Act that said clothing from H&M had labels that something about being made from recycled material, but in truth the only recycled item was the label itself. Technically, not a lie. But obviously deceptive, because they relied on our assumption that they were referring to the clothing item and not the tag that the claim was printed on.)

- If I say something that is true but is used to cover up other things I don't want you to know, that's deception. So if I promote that my product uses recycled materials, and it really does, but it also pollutes the environment in other ways, that's deceptive too because I was trying to imply that my product was good for the environment when it really wasn't.

- HOWEVER, if I say something that is true, don't try to get you to believe anything that isn't true by any means, but also don't tell you that my competitor has other strengths that you might want to consider, I don't consider that deceptive. I don't agree that this is "lying by omission" if the omission has nothing to do with anything else I've said in my ad. I think you're saying that you do, and we may simply be an impasse on that.


> If I say something that is untrue, I consider that a lie and a deception. It's also illegal.

It's not illegal in any meaningful way. Whatever law you think makes it illegal, is not being effectively enforced. Companies lie in advertising constantly. Subway "footlongs" are less than a foot long, "Bifidus Regularus" in Activia yogurt is literally two made up words, Dr. Oz can make all sorts of claims about new medical products because it's "not a medical show", Vitamin Water supposedly "boosts your immune system" and "helps fight free radicals", many herbal supplements are literally grass clippings. Even in cases where companies have been successfully sued (which is different from it being illegal) settlements have been meaningless compared to the profits: the possibility of being sued is a line item in the expenses of a lying advertising campaign.

I think we're on agreement in your middle points, but I'm a bit confused about how you think this applies to advertising. The vast majority of advertising is dishonest under these points.

> - HOWEVER, if I say something that is true, don't try to get you to believe anything that isn't true by any means, but also don't tell you that my competitor has other strengths that you might want to consider, I don't consider that deceptive. I don't agree that this is "lying by omission" if the omission has nothing to do with anything else I've said in my ad. I think you're saying that you do, and we may simply be an impasse on that.

I think it depends on context. You have people on this thread claiming that their job as advertisers is to help consumers find products that fit their needs. The implication here is that they're providing a valuable service to consumers. If that's the case, then you're absolutely misleading people by only providing information that's favorable to your product.

But if we're honest that the job of advertisers is to sell people products, regardless of whether those products fit consumers' needs, then sure, they're giving all the information they're obligated to give. But let's not pretend that that's altruistic, or good for consumers and society. It's not--it's actively harmful.

You can't have it both ways. Either:

1. The job of advertisers is helping consumers by giving them information to choose products that fit their needs, and they're not doing that job...

2. ...or the job of advertisers is to sell products without caring about whether those are the best products for consumers, or whether consumers need/want the product, or if the product is actively harmful to consumers.

Either way, advertisers are a blight on society.


There are still loopholes. The examples you give are things I agree are wrong. But yea, agreed, that shit is unethical to varying degrees. The practice of slightly changing the spelling of words to no longer have legal definitions is one of those loopholes that I abhor. Chocolatey Chips vs Chocolate Chips? Footlong vs foot long? Cheese-based product vs cheese? I don't know how they ethically defend what they do.

(Side note: Some of the most effective ad campaigns of all time, and some of the most revered in the industry, came out of DDB in the 60s. Their trick: in a sea of blatant lies and deceptions, they told the truth. Instead of saying "this is an amazing car", they'd say "this is a small car for people who don't want large ones". It worked, and they proved that respecting the consumer was not only moral but good for business, too. If you don't think today's regulations have had any meaningful impact, I recommend taking a look at the ads that came out before regulation.)

The distinction about lawsuits vs criminal prosecution is something you'll have to take up with the legal system. I don't know why it is that if a corporation does something illegal, the only recourse is usually financial, where as when a person does the same thing, jail time is on the table.

To your comments on context, I genuinely apologize, I wasn't reading other comments in the greater thread, only the ones in response to what I initially posted (because if you took the time to read what I wrote and replied, I feel I owe you a response in return). I didn't realize that's what you were referring to.

I 100% agree my job is to sell products. Others in the greater thread and in my industry may believe their jobs are more altruistic than that. I can't speak for them. I'm certainly not a saint, and simply aim to avoid doing work that I'd consider harmful to anyone.

I disagree that selling products is inherently bad. I maintain that if the product is good, then promoting it is good or at least neutral -- with the previously noted exceptions for deceptive advertising.

I don't agree with your contention about the vast majority of advertising being dishonest, but I'm not sure either of us is prepared to conduct a proper and objective study on the matter. We probably both have confirmation bias on this issue.

> You can't have it both ways. Either:

> 1. The job of advertisers is helping consumers by giving them information to choose products that fit their needs, and they're not doing that job...

> 2. ...or the job of advertisers is to sell products without caring about whether those are the best products for consumers, or whether consumers need/want the product, or if the product is actively harmful to consumers.

I would propose a third option, spinning off of option 2 that you presented: Advertisers sell products. Some of them care about whether the products are good for people, some don't. Some of them care about whether their advertising is honest, some don't.

I think the idea that the act of promotion (advertising) is what's wrong with the world is putting the cart before the horse. Fix the product. Fix the business. The advertising will follow suit. If you think that's naive, you may be right. But it's how I think about the matter. Honest businesses produce honest advertising. Dishonest businesses don't.


Name one advertising agency which has honesty as one of its core precepts.


Petryna Advertising, my agency. Thanks for coming out.


How many corporate Centers of Excellence produce excellent work?


Pardon? I don't know what that means.


Prove it.


Interesting challenge. What would constitute proof?

I'm not being facetious and I honestly don't know if I could prove it. It's simply a value we hold dear and we're up front about it with our clients and our team. We refuse to be dishonest, because it's bad for business.

For context: we're a small agency in a small city. If we either lied to our clients or produced dishonest advertising, we believe we'd be out of business in short order.

I'll give you an example. Many businesses suspect their agencies pad the hours on their billings. So instead we mostly do project-based quotes: as long as the scope of the project doesn't change, we don't change our quote, even when we lose money on it (and it happens). I can't prove that, though, so you'll just have to decide if I'm being honest about it I guess.


I believe you believe what you wrote.

I will say the same for the same people chastising you.

It all comes down to a difference in perspective, values, and outlook. I don't believe the hate you're getting is justified, but for someone that works in marketing: your copy is unconvincing ;)

Perhaps you didn't frame properly for your audience? You seem more on the defensive instead of the offensive, morphing your position so your detractors can see it from a different angle.

Just some thoughts. It must be draining replying to all of that hate.


Nods


> Therefore I don't agree with the notion that advertising is inherently bad because it raises people's expectations for themselves.

It's more nuanced than that. They are using advertising as shorthand for commercial advertising. The aspirations they are encouraging are for products. This want is what is causing the unhappiness. They could increase aspiration for positive things, but that is not what advertisers are doing.


> They could increase aspiration for positive things, but that is not what advertisers are doing.

I maintain that it depends on what is being advertised. It can be used for good, evil, and everything in between. What percentage of advertising falls into which category is largely subjective.

If the product is good for society, then the ads for it are a good for society too.

If the product harms society, the ads for it magnify that harm.

Maybe that's what I should have said right from the start: advertising is a magnifier of whatever is already there. If the product sucks, advertising will help it fail faster. If it helps people, advertising will allow it to help even more people.


A lot of surreal coping and rationalization going on here. Comparing aspiration in "advertising" to inventing the wheel and harnessing fire??? Jesus Christ, man. What bizzaro world do you have to be in this say something like this? Oh, right: the advertising industry.


What bizarro world do you have to live in to think advertising is what's wrong with the world?

Oh right: the tech industry. The one that thinks everything it does is going to change the world for the better.


I apologize fo the comment about the tech industry. I was going to edit it to simply take it out, but that wouldn't be terribly honest of me. So it stays. But I can't in good conscious say "hey, please don't be a jerk to me for being in advertising" and then turn around and mock the entire tech industry. That's BS on my part.


You're a good man, Charlie Brown. I understand it's frustrating dealing with these types of people. Just know that HN is a bubble and doesn't usually represent the majority of people, just a ... vocal subset of people


Hahaha, thanks :-)


"...[I]s also why we invented the wheel, harnessed fire, founded fancy schools like Harvard" there's a huge false equivalency here; I'll let you figure out which one it is.

How much consumer advertising appeals to "good" aspiration and fills a need which is fairly priced (ie doesn't have brand/marketing/silly subliminal cultural messaging priced in).


When I talked about inventions, I was talking about aspirations. I.e. whenever we do anything it's because we aspire to something better. Someone was cold, stumbled upon fire and saw that it kept them warm, and aspired to harness that so they could be warm all the time. I don't see how that's controversial.

As for how much advertising appeals to good aspirations, I have no idea. Probably not a lot of it. I wasn't defending all of advertising; I was saying don't throw the entire industry under the bus. I, for one, try to do only honest work for companies that provide goods and services that I believe in. Not everyone in this industry gets that freedom, but most of us do our best.

I get it, though. It's easy to hate on advertisers, just as it's easy to hate on salespeople and lawyers and politicians and stock brokers. I happen to consider all these professions necessary to our economy, though. I don't think it's a coincidence that the most prosperous societies have the most of these professions, including advertisers.


> But virtually every good thing people have ever done was because of their aspirations.

I'll think of this comment every time I see an ad that makes me "aspire" to better myself and others by giving my money to someone else.


I suppose you work for free?


Necessity, not aspiration, is the mother of invention.

Please change careers.


I would, but the position of "snarky internet commentator" has been filled.

If only I had pithy quotes that I could paste to make my arguments for me, rather than, I dunno, using original thought.


Sophistry's worse than snark.


Are you saying I must be a liar because I’m in advertising? Or that the arguments I’m making here today are meant to deceive?

Or just a random opinion about sophistry?


Thank God for the advertisements that motivated Jonas Salk to invent the polio vaccine, huh?


Ah yes, snark. This is helpful.

In case you missed it: I didn't say advertising got people to invent jack shit. I said "aspirations" did. The research paper claimed aspirations are what make people unhappy, and then said advertising increases aspirations, so therefore advertising makes people unhappy.

I'm defending aspirations. The research paper is the one saying advertising leads to aspirations, which I consider a complement, thank you very much.


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