Public Advertising


                I had an epiphany. When flipping through channels on television, trying to find something entertaining to watch, it dawned on me how much I truly hate advertising; not only advertising on television, but advertising anywhere and everywhere. The first commercial I saw was for a beauty product, directed at women to make them look younger by reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Next, I stumbled upon an advertisement for teeth whitening—the people, whom did not have white teeth, were not happy, and those whom had white teeth, were smiling, and often portrayed with a person of the opposite sex who was also happy. Then I found a commercial for hair-loss, directed towards men—once again those whom had used the product were portrayed as happy, and with a person of the opposite sex, whereas those whom had not used it were glum-looking.  All of these advertisements made me realize how atrocious all types of public advertising are. It is in the best interest of society as a whole to have all forms of public advertising banned because they are unfair, overwhelming, unethical, and morally degrading.


If I were asked to name the deadliest subversive force within capitalism—the single greatest source of its waning morality—I should without hesitation name advertising. How else should one identify a force that debases language, drains thought, and undoes dignity? If the barrage of advertising, unchanged in its tone and texture, were devoted to some other purpose—say the exaltation of the public sector—it would be recognized in a moment for the corrosive element that it is. But as the voice of the private sector it escapes this startled notice. (Phillips qtd. Robert Heilbroner)


                There are many reasons that a ban on all public advertising should be created—one of the reasons being injustice. For one company to advertise is unfair to the competition and the buyers. For example, throughout a single day one may encounter numerous advertisements for beauty products. Beauty products are advertised on television, billboards, radio stations, website’s flashing banners, in magazines, and on cabs in urban areas. People are easily influenced by advertisements. Then, when one goes to the store to buy a beauty product, they may be unconsciously forced into buying the lower quality product because it is the name that they recognize from advertising. The higher quality products loose business because they think advertising is immoral, and believe in selling their product based upon quality. Banning all public advertising would still allow companies to inform consumers of their products through the product packaging, selling their products on television channels intended for product selling such as QVC, and advertise on their private property and individual websites. This allows the consumers to be educated about the products offered without being forced to undergo biased advertisements. If every company ceased to advertise publically, then the focus would be on the quality of their products. The money saved from advertising would be able to go toward higher quality ingredients.  Therefore the companies that survive would be the companies with the superior products, rather than the ones who skimp on quality. It would be better for both the companies and the consumers if all forms of public advertising were prohibited.2600133322_a3b13cdb8a
                With the best of all consumers in mind, advertising should be banned due to its burden to the viewers and listeners. To sit through one commercial break on television and absorb all the advertisements is a process of bombardment. One is also flooded by advertisements in more places than just the comfort of home. When driving down the highway, for example, advertisements are on billboards, the sides of semi-trucks, and on other sorts of company vehicles. People are exposed to more advertising than most realize and are put on sensory overload. The human brain needs to process the sight of, and/or sound of these advertisements. Many times when the same advertisement is seen on television multiple times, or driven by on a daily basis, it gets embedded into one’s memory.  These advertisements take up space in the brain—much needed space. Humans on average use only ten percent of their brain. The capacity of the human brain in terabytes is between one and ten, with an average of three terabytes (“Human Brain”). If we are only using ten percent of three terabytes, that is the equivalent three hundred gigabytes. One can purchase an external hard-drive with more capacity than that for fewer than one hundred dollars. If that ten percent is being filled with needless rubbish from advertising, then who will compose symphonies, cure cancer, and invent alternative energy sources? We want the future for our children and grandchildren to be as pleasing, if not more pleasing than ours.


A number of researchers have suggested that advertising makes children materialistic. Several studies have examined whether this is indeed the case…. With one exception… all correlational studies found positive relations between the viewing frequency of commercial television and the materialistic attitude of children and adolescents… The experimental studies, too, show that advertising has an effect on the materialistic attitudes of children. (Valkenburg)


                It is our responsibility to look out for the youth of our world, and to provide the best for them. According to the American Psychological Association, the average child watches more than 40,000 commercials per year. In a study done by six specialized psychologist, funded by the APA, they found that children under the age of eight do not have the cognitive ability to comprehend the influential powers of advertising and therefore make the assumption that all advertisements are true (Willenz).  It is unethical to use this against consumers. A child’s mind is like a sponge—and to allow this sponge to soak up everything and anything without being able to filter out the unnecessary filth is fraudulent. If companies would end all public advertising children’s minds would be open for the necessary learning from their guardians and teachers. Children have the most creative minds; with these minds being brain-washed by advertisements, our world is losing its sense of creativity.

                The greatest reason public advertising should be banned is the fact that the majority of advertisements are morally degrading to the consumers. The way companies try to sell their products or services is to make the consumers feel that their company could improve their lifestyle and exterior looks. In order for a company to influence a person in such a way, they need to make the person feel less confident about themselves. Companies do this is by depicting the “ideal lifestyle and looks” with or as a cause of their companies product or services. The viewers then think that if they purchase from that company their life or looks will become identical to that of the person in the advertisement. The viewer also will begin to think if they do not purchase from that company that their lifestyle and looks will be less than ideal, maybe even worthless. Not only do beauty product companies do this, but even car dealerships. They will put a woman who is attractive according to the media, with the average Joe because he got a new car from Tom’s Car Dealership. This makes the consumers think that they could be living “the life” if they just buy their new car from Tom’s. Both of these examples of advertising could be considered a form of false advertising.

                Although there are a few benefits to public advertising—mainly benefits toward the companies whom do the advertising—the effects of advertising on society are far from beneficial. Many companies claim that advertising increases their sales by making their products or services known. According to the Cambridge University Press, the effects of advertising may actually harm the company financially. Many companies act based upon instinct when it comes to spending on advertising; they match the dollar amounts that competitors spend on advertising rather than adjusting to their individual budget (Yoo). As mentioned earlier a ban on public advertising would not fully restrict companies from making their products known. The ways that companies would make their products, or services, known would be at a lower cost to the company; this is because much of the ‘advertising’ would be on private property. A company does not have to pay themselves in order to advertise for themselves.

                Without advertising in our daily lives, people would be able to relax more easily and think more clearly. Image a typical day. You wake up in the morning and flip on the radio to your favorite radio station; instead of hearing the shouting voices of advertisers, you would hear the more soothing sound of music, or the informative qualities of the news, while you make a fresh pot of coffee. You allow the aromas of the coffee to fill your nostrils as you say “good morning” to your family. With coffee in hand, you then sit to read the newspaper and the only thing you read is news, none of the overwhelming advertising filler. Following an easy-going morning you commute to work or school, and enjoy a clear mind to think about what needs to be done that day, and muse about your exciting evening plans that will help you through a long day. If everyone’s mornings, not to mention if entire days could be that tranquil, then the world might be a better place.

Advertising is erroneous because it is unfair, overwhelming, unethical, and morally degrading to the consumers. We need to take action, and ban companies from public advertising. It could improve our nation as a whole. Advertising clogs the minds of the individuals in today’s society with unnecessary rubbish. Without this nonsense, our world could be the ideal utopia that people hope for.



Works Cited


“Human Brain.” Sizes. 20 Sept. 2007. Sizes, Inc. 24 Nov. 2008


Phillips, Michael J. Ethics and Manipulation in Advertising : Answering a Flawed Indictment. New York:

Quorum Books, 1997. 1.

Valkenburg, Patti M. Children’s Responses to the Screen : A Media Psychological Approach. Danbury:

Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Incorporated, 2004. 99.

Willenz, Pam. “Television Advertising Leads to Unhealthy Habits in Children; Says APA Task Force.” APA

Online. 23 Feb. 2004. American Psychological Association (APA). 19 Nov. 2008


Yoo, Boonghee, and Rujirutana, Mandhachitara. “Estimating Advertising Effects on Sales in

a Competitive Setting.” 24 Sept. 2004. Cambridge University. 19 Nov. 2008





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