I wish advertising didn't work

Written on November 14 2016 at 17:06 and updated on May 03 2011 at 15:02

I wish advertising didn’t work. I don’t like most adverts, but worse - far worse - is the way we acquisce to their ingestion, from the peripheral jabs of posters and adverts on public transport, to spending hours sitting slack-jawed in front of the television (incidentally, the most influential invention so far, and so crushingly disappointing that it is now reliant on advertising to be economically viable). I try to mute and look away when an advert comes on, but we’re only human, and some shit inevitably sloughs in.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if it just didn’t work? If it just had no effect? Yes, shed a tear if you like for the countless ad execs who might find themselves out of work, but cry with joy when the ridiculous adverts for perfume disappear into obsolescence! Rejoice when we are no longer so gullible and easily-led as to believe in the ‘brand image’ of a particular shoe manufacturer! What a wonderful age that would be.

There’s a short story by Ted Chiang wherein persons can opt out

I wish advertising didn’t work.

But where do you draw the line between information and brand-based advertising? Branding is, after all, simply a pseudo-conceptual shorthand for a collection of statements about a particular set of products; why should Apple have to explain every time that their wares are simple, easy to use, designed with a particular aesthetic and so on? Build the brand instead, and then you can focus on the particular features of the specific product you’re trying to sell today.