Advertising, good or bad?

ddrueding

Fixture
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Messages
19,315
Location
Monterey, CA
I was having a discussion with other people at another place, and I made a statement that I thought everyone would agree on. The response was quite the opposite, with everyone else stating that they were stunned at my opinion and refusing to discuss further.

"Advertisements being effective is bad for society at large."

Thoughts?
 

CougTek

Serial computer killer
Joined
Jan 21, 2002
Messages
8,692
Location
Québec, Québec
Advertising typically exploits the lack of critical judgement from average people. It doesn't work as well on the smaller portion of people who tend to research and compare solutions on rational basis. It exploits a flaw of our society's education and often tend to reinforce that flaw with catchy expressions at the expense of rational arguments.

Not all advertising is bad. Good services and products need to be known too. The problem is when bad products and services sell well thanks to succesful advertising campaigns. Unfortunately, the later is quite common.
 

ddrueding

Fixture
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Messages
19,315
Location
Monterey, CA
My final argument was as follows:

If people were just a bit smarter and able to extract the facts from their surroundings they would likely make decisions based on their own best interests with little regard for irrelevancies.

This little dream of mine would be capable of reducing the commercial value of advertising significantly. In this world people would make better decisions and companies would be forced to invest their earnings in making better or cheaper products.
 

jtr1962

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 25, 2002
Messages
3,735
Location
Flushing, New York
If by effective you mean they get people to buy things they otherwise wouldn't buy, and really don't need, I tend to agree. I'm a firm believer in capitalism and free markets, but I feel people shouldn't be coerced into buying things by slick advertising which makes products seem better than they really are. Rather, just have some sort of information exchange where people wishing to buy a product might go to learn more about the product. The information could include specs from the vendor (with some mechanism to ensure such specs are honest), other general information about it, and of course the opinions of actual users. Actually, such things already exist more or less at places like Newegg and Amazon, except as far as I know there is no mechanism to determine is the vendor's specs are true. What shouldn't exist at all is any kind of advertising where a person who isn't seeking to buy the product is bombarded with information about it. It might be OK (and this a gray area in my opinion) to have links to similar products when you look at a product.

What's not OK, and this is my beef with advertising in general, is to have interruptions of your TV program, public displays like billboards or displays, telemarketing calls, door-to-door salespeople, advertising flyers, and any other means where you push your product to people not actively seeking to buy it or similar products. It's OK to have advertisements in trade journals and the like because by definition those exist to show the end user new products. Also, most are not read by the general public. You can do likewise in magazines catering to a specific niche, like cycling or photography. However, magazines with general circulation and newspapers really shouldn't have any form of advertising. I know this is contrary to their business model, but the idea here is to keep the ads to people only likely to buy a particular type of product anyway. And prescription drugs shouldn't be advertised at all to the general public. By definition a doctor decides if you need a prescription drug. Doctors don't need to waste their limited time explaining to patients why the drug with a commercial with blue skies and pretty flowers isn't the right drug for their patient. In fact, doctors should sue the drug companies for all the time they waste doing this on account of all these silly, misleading drug commercials on TV.

I'm totally against non-print, non-online ads, or online ads involving popups, spam, and anything else intrusive or disruptive. An ad should at most be passively available for those wishing to read it. It shouldn't be forced on people or disruptive. For example, telemarketing by far is the most disruptive, stupid idea there ever was for advertising. I continue to be amazed that telemarketers get enough business to make it worthwhile given that they're calling people who don't want to be called to sell them stuff they don't want to buy. The do-not-call list has been a joke. My proposal for dealing with telemarketing is simpler. All phone service providers have access to a universal list of spammers. If a person who is on the do-not-call list receives an unsolicited call, they press a button and that number is added to the list. Once on the list, the phone service provider legally has to make sure any calls from that number don't get through to anybody on the do-not-call list. Any calls where the caller id is spoofed or blocked don't get through either. In a few short weeks with this system the telemarketers would be out of business for good as they couldn't get through to 99% of their potential customers. To prevent personal phone numbers from getting on the list in case you dial the wrong number and someone on the other end thinks you're a telespammer, there could be a separate list of phone numbers known to belong to residences which can't get put on the list. You could still catch telemarketers trying to beat the system by using their home phones if the phone service provider detects an unusual amount of calls made (say more than a few hundred per month).
 

ddrueding

Fixture
Joined
Feb 4, 2002
Messages
19,315
Location
Monterey, CA
I'm very much a freedom-of-speech type myself, and wouldn't propose any kind of legislation that stops people (or corps, who are not people) from compensating a media outlet to pass on their message.

I just wish that people weren't so easily swayed by ads, instead choosing to be informed and act in their own best interest.
 

jtr1962

Storage? I am Storage!
Joined
Jan 25, 2002
Messages
3,735
Location
Flushing, New York
Advertising typically exploits the lack of critical judgement from average people.
And that's a good reason why it should be severely limited. Also, schools should be required to teach students how to deconstruct misleading advertising. They used to teach this but it seems under pressure from big corporations they stopped.

Not all advertising is bad. Good services and products need to be known too. The problem is when bad products and services sell well thanks to succesful advertising campaigns. Unfortunately, the later is quite common.
Good products and services will eventually advertise themselves through word of mouth if the market isn't saturated with advertising which makes people think there's only one or two choices available. Arguably, many good products fail while bad products succeed solely because more money is spent advertising the latter.

My final argument was as follows:

If people were just a bit smarter and able to extract the facts from their surroundings they would likely make decisions based on their own best interests with little regard for irrelevancies.

This little dream of mine would be capable of reducing the commercial value of advertising significantly. In this world people would make better decisions and companies would be forced to invest their earnings in making better or cheaper products.
I feel exactly the same. Any money spent on advertising is money which could have went to making a product better or cheaper. That's why I tend to not buy products which are heavily advertised. They're typically either inferior or overpriced or both.

I'm very much a freedom-of-speech type myself, and wouldn't propose any kind of legislation that stops people (or corps, who are not people) from compensating a media outlet to pass on their message.

No, but you could pass legislation where ads must be vetted for truthfulness by an independent agency. And you should prohibit certain kinds of ads (i.e. prescription drugs) altogether. You should also prohibit ads to people too young to filter out creative advertising (i.e. minors).

Also, ads should always be optional. If a TV program has advertising, the station should make the same program available at a different time (or online) without the advertising. The thing about free speech is that you're free to say what you want, but you're not constitutionally guaranteed an audience. Advertising should be no exception to that. Like you said, if people weren't so easily swayed by ads, none of this would matter but the fact is they are. Ads often cause people to make decisions which are harmful either emotionally or financially.

Any type of advertising which disrupts the sanctity of one's peace at home can be banned without free speech considerations. Telemarketing and door-to-door sales both fall into this category. I pay for my phone to use to talk to people I wish to talk with. It doesn't exist for telemarketers to push their scams on me.
 
Top