Brought to you in partnership with the J. Darby Group
Advertisements are probably the prime example of a necessary evil in today’s society. However, the sheer scale and depth to which it permeates contemporary life is not only unprecedented but also flies under the radar most of the time. For instance, you probably didn’t pay much attention to the small line below the title that suggested this was a sponsored article. Yes, a sponsored article in a completely ad-free, student run journal for an entirely fictitious company whose name I just made up on the spot. If you caught that, I’m proud of you.
We hate ads. And why won’t we? We grew up wading through spam email and harbouring distrust for conventional advertising. When was the last time you clicked an ad by your own volition that turned out to be exactly what you were expecting? Moreover, the myriad forms internet advertising in particular takes these days certainly leaves a lot to be desired.
Pop up advertisements are this generation’s idea of Hydra, because if you try to kill one with its ‘close’ button (good luck finding the ‘close’ button by the way), all you’ll get are more spam-rich tabs full of “free” emoji, betting websites and x-rated content (if you’re lucky). Integrated ads like the ones on YouTube and Spotify can be thought of as a fair price to pay for thousands of hours of unlimited content, but still end up being universally disliked and generally skipped. However, there’s a special place reserved in hell for mobile ads that deem it appropriate to take the liberty to open other apps on your phone. And contrary to what the pretty lady in the bottom of your screen says, there are never any hot singles in your area.
However, our relationship with advertising is far more intricate than the feeling of ubiquitous abhorrence we seem to assign to it. We claim we hate ads, but we don’t mind being surrounded by them, or in fact, being carriers of advertising ourselves. Having a phone in every hand means people can continuously broadcast themselves, and brands become a part of that process, involuntarily or otherwise. Did you really think Starbucks baristas can’t spell common names? Why is it always Jack and Coke and never Jack and Pepsi? There are so many things we do in life that subconsciously make us the carriers and agents of brands. And it’s not like doing that is a dishonourable sin, I mean, it’s only part of daily life. It’s just a fascinating revelation that the same people who are so wary of brand messages still willingly (albeit unaware) participate in brand promotion on a day to day basis.
Hey, even double-O-seven sometimes needs to add some double Os to the end of his bank balance
We also need to consider that somehow, the state advertising finds itself in also a function of our generation. Before the explosion of the internet, people would patiently go through their newspaper or magazine of choice, the news being on the same level as ads for a cruise. But now, in an age of dwindling attention spans and instant gratification, resorting to sneakiness and pestilence is clearly the path of least resistance for advertisers. Of course, you’d expect companies to be respectful and non-intrusive and invent creative methods to capture attention, but these idealistic standards quickly defenestrate themselves when competing for the eyeballs of someone with an attention span of 6.5 seconds on average across a barrage of devices and platforms and social media outlets.
I wonder how these guys would get by in modern times.
I wonder how these guys would get by in modern times
But when all is said and done, most people voice the same opinion. Advertising is evil. Advertising is bad, it “makes you buy things you don’t need with money you don’t have.” But despite having waxed lyrical about my dislike for it, I also understand the necessity for advertising. It is an innovative, fluid, ever-changing form of communication by which some of the world’s most creative people come together to create ideas and communicate them such that they move and persuade people to do something that usually, but not always, result in a monetary or moral profit for the client concerned.
Advertising doesn’t influence as much as it reflects the mores of society. It is art with purpose, but it inspires indignation in us solely because for every touching campaign, there are a hundred non-deliberate, nosy ones that clamour to be heard the same as their more dignified counterparts.
That’s what advertising is all about. Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it and you’ll subconsciously partake in it. Stay safe kids, be a hypocrite like me. Love advertising, yet always use an ad blocker.