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"
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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!
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.
Without unfulfilled desires, there is no room for self-actualization. See: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
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.
These features are new in the last 10 years, some are new in the last couple years, and they are continually improving.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
Few drivers use their mirrors, and even fewer adjust them properly, so they might as well be next on the chopping block.
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."
If anything, the idea of earning twice as much feels weird rather than aspirational.
But I suppose that in of itself can be unhealthy if taken too far.
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.
"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."
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.
Other than that, there's nothing wrong with creating desire for something. It's ultimately up to the people to make their own choices.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your concern isn't about advertising then, it's just shady companies.
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.
The problem is that on this thread there are a bunch of people trying to say that advertising is helping customers.
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".
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.
Huxley is definitely on my top ten list of favourite authors.
I could put a /s here, but it could well be literally true.
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).
All that stuff you couldn't get.
Ignorance is bliss.
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 don't think it was the lack of billboards. But if there were billboards, it sure would feel different.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Advertisment almost never works on me, so it's hard for me to imagine it's so effective on everyone else.
That's why it works on them.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
"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.
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.
Then you need to change your friends.
But, we're getting to the point where newer phones really aren't any better than older ones.
I love my SE. I really don't want a phone any bigger than the SE.
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.
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.
> 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."
"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."
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...)
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.
It's like doing a scientific study on the common claim of advertisers that "the internet would not exist without advertising".
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.
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.
* Walking on the street looking down is the only defense in the streets.
* Online only ad-blockers keep you sane.
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.
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)
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.
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.
"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.
It certainly is better than NOT walking, but pretending like walking down the street or cleaning your house is exercise is disingenuous.
It's the same amount of work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
"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 
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the way advertising works.
 There was a bid held between two ad companies, a third company sued because they wanted to get included in the bid, too.
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.
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.
Is sending out status signals to attract a mate or business partners a genuine need?
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
> 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.)
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.
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?
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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?
> 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.
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.
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.
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?
...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'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.
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.
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.
> 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?
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.
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?
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.
I assure you their editorial departments would be overjoyed if you've discovered a new business model that works without advertising.
> 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.
(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.
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.
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.
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 :).
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.
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 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?
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?
And my claim, to be specific, is that I disagree with your definition of lying. So does the dictionary.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Oh right: the tech industry. The one that thinks everything it does is going to change the world for the better.
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).
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.
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.
Please change careers.
If only I had pithy quotes that I could paste to make my arguments for me, rather than, I dunno, using original thought.
Or just a random opinion about sophistry?
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.