Many words have been spoken about the perils about advertising. I’ve never watched Mad Men, but I’ve listened to my friends’ discussions that followed after a long marathon. But after years of being bombarded by advertisements, I’ve realized something about them. None of the products or services that are being advertised are necessary. You don’t need any of them.
A commercial for a new car? Don’t need it. A credit card? Don’t need it. A sale at the department store? Don’t need to go there, the artsy thrift store has better deals and nicer clothes. Fast food? Come on.
You don’t see a commercial for broccoli or spinach (except when the supermarket wants you to go shop there, but a farmers’ market will do). You don’t see a commercial suggesting you should spend more time with your friends (except when it’s a restaurant or a beer commercial). You don’t see an advertisement suggesting thinking about changing your career path (except when it’s a career training institute). You don’t see a commercial that says you should call your Mom (except for floral arrangement, phone, or greeting card companies).
You catch my point: all of the important things (good food, health, connection, fulfillment) don’t have commercials associated with them, except when interested parties want to sell you something along the way.
So it might be interesting to look critically at everything that is being advertised to you. I bet you that you don’t need any of it.
If so, what remains? Good question. What really matters to you? It could be fun to spend a little time, either at the kitchen table or at a coffee shop, brainstorming what is important. I bet you that you won’t be able to find a single commercial for any of it.
I recognize that this isn’t the most nuanced argument, I admit, and I’m sure if you look hard enough, you can probably invent a counter-example, but as always, 100% accuracy isn’t the point here. The point is that what we are most told that we want or need aren’t what we actually want or need. And if you don’t decide for yourself what’s really important to you, well, there are plenty of ad agencies that will decide that for you.
But enough about me. Do you feel that advertising plays a valid role in helping us with our needs?
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