An inescapable adversity
Advertising is everywhere. It’s in our homes. In our streets. It’s on our phones. On our minds. We see it on the way to work. We see it relaxing at home watching the TV. We hear it through the radio, apps, and devices. It’s all around us. It consumes us.
Although there are no official figures, the average person is estimated to encounter between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day. Divide that by 24 hours; that’s 250 ads an hour. Divide that by 60 minutes, that’s approximately around 4 ads every minute, that we encounter every single day.
I can barely remember how many glasses of water I’ve had in a day! How did advertising become so rapid and so vast? and how did we integrate it as such a crucial part of the world we live in today?
Upon research, the history of advertising can be traced to ancient civilizations. However, It became a major force in capitalist economies in the mid-19th century, based on newspapers and magazines.
Then, in the 20th century, advertising grew with the help of new technologies such as direct mail, radio, television, the internet, mobile devices, and of course social media.
Google's definition of Advertising: The activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think advertising is a great tool when used with good intentions and purpose. Like when it promotes and supports. When it creates a space for us to reevaluate and analyze our right vs wrong, our consumption choices, or impact on the planet. Or rather, when it evokes emotion and invites us to take action for worthy causes.
And it has done a lot of good for the world; it created companies and jobs worldwide. It’s helped develop our thinking and creativity in ways we never imagined before. It’s helped NGOs, small businesses, and individuals plant their seeds of products, services, and skills far and wide into the world.
But sadly, this is not what the majority of advertising is achieving today. And as history will tell you, we don’t always use our powers for good. There’s always an imbalance of evil.
Wikipedia’s definition of Advertising: Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or an idea.
Large corporations and marketers conjure up an ad, with an intention to manipulate their desired target audience into believing they absolutely need their product or service. Or otherwise, persuade their consumers to purchase their brand over another. Their sole purpose is to make money and generate a profit. The keyword in wiki’s definition is ‘non-personal’.
We’ve let ads become a defining scale for the success vs. the failure of a business and allowed it to move unconsciously at an alarming rate. We’ve bastardized advertising and created a monster that we, constantly, put under people’s beds and sometimes, shamelessly, in their faces.
Urban Dictionary’s definition of Advertising: The tool of the devil.
I find myself asking if advertising even works? Good or bad, do we take it in and act on it? I’m sure in some instances we do. But I think we have also allowed it to become like unwanted pollution but for our minds. Acknowledging its existence but taking no responsibility for where it goes, and how it affects us now and future generations to come.