Is advertising harmful?


/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
Do advertisements do more harm than good?

Everywhere we go we are surrounded by advertising be it in public areas or even when we stay at home: reading the papers, watching tv, surfing the internet, etc.

I know that it helps us (consumers) to be aware of what products out there are available for us. The ads also help companies sell, that's why they pay for it expensively (30 second spot of TV commercial can cost from several hundreds of thousands to millions, depending on what's on air). Ads also enable us to enjoy some of the things that otherwise wouldn't exist if there were no ad money paid to sponsor it.

But do you ever think that advertising is bad? Or are they just annoying sometimes? Does advertising make us want more than we can have? What about advertising targetting children? Do you think that commercials about fastfood restaurants and other unhealthy snacks are related to health problems of the society such as obesity and poor eating habits? If yes, should there be restrictions on their advertising?
It's a necessary evil really. The 'necessary' being revenue generation for the advertiser and exposure for the advertised - it works in many different formats, and the 'evil' in it's many forms you mentioned above. Just as I visit the shops, advertisements are the shop's way of visiting me but working even more so in their interest than my own. I'm told what I need before I even know I need it and sometimes greed or impulse gets the better of me. The problem is that, although a reality on a small scale online, they don't (can't) filter out adverts specific to me and my needs so I am subjected to the whole pack. Also it's sometimes hard to differentiate what I want and what I need in the first place.

Visually and audibly, I find it an annoyance but learn to tolerate it. Perhaps if I had kids myself I would feel the full force of it but it is part of the foundation of business and even a business in itself. I'm not sure about restrictions though. If something is legal to sell, surely the seller has a right to advertise it - free market and all, with parental and personal responsibility. That's ignoring emotion obligation and the impulse I mentioned earlier though but it's hard to find equilibrium without contradicting or conflicting in some way.

If I were indeed a parent, I'd likely see it in a different light.


Registered Member
Evil advertisements only work on people that are already insecure, though. Sure, it's not contributing to anything, but it's part of a system that justifies itself --> Person: "Oh, I'm shallow because everyone on TV is shallow." TV: "Oh, I'm shallow because everyone in real life is shallow."

Shallow advertising is only part of a problem rooted deeper within our society.

Those of us who aren't obsessed with our status, or age, or lawn (compared the the Joneses next door) see right through it --> Frankly, I'd sooner buy something because it had an advertisement that actually entertained me, or made me laugh.


/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
Because of studies showing casual relationship between advertising and consumption, we have a law here that forbids favorable advertising of alcohol and cigarettes on the TV, cinemas,etc. They cannot be distributed for free (promo items) and the items should display health warnings.

What's the content of most advertisments you have on your local TV? Here it's cars and food. There used to be a lot of them geared towards snack time food (especially sweets and chocolate products for kids) but I noticed it has become less. I'm not sure if it's because of restrictions. With the popularity of mobile phones, there's also an increase of ad space/time occupied by these.

The problem is that, although a reality on a small scale online, they don't (can't) filter out adverts specific to me and my needs so I am subjected to the whole pack.
I remember there are futuristic movies that "solve" this problem. Everything you hear and see (advertising) is tailored for your needs and interests based on a store's record of your last purchase and I don't know what else they have in the database. I just forget which movie...:dork:


"There can be only one!"
Technically, we don't 'need' advertising per se, however, if their is a product on the market that we need, and might save a life, then however would we hear about it without it having one form of advertising or other?

I know for a fact many advertising agencies get paid far too much money and have far too many perks of the job when in honesty, their work isn't all that successful. Have you ever seen a catchy T.V advert that is stuck in your head, and you liked/loved, but you can't for the life of you remember what the product is? That's a sign of a very expensive advert that never worked, yet I'd bet a great deal of money that the fat-cats that said 'Yeah, we'll go with that' and because they are brain-washed by the agencies by being wined and dinned, and presented with loose women [often prostitutes] and being taken on holidays and weekend breaks, and often supplied with illicit drugs, then within little reason, they go along with that agency again, but if they don't, they will have paid so much money to that agency, the agency won't need that corporation again, and they can still have the corporation on their portfolio. All these things are not always the case, but people will get wooed with whatever the agencies think it will take, even if it's just a pot of tea and some cream cakes.

Advertising does not end at 'products.' Their is nothing you can't advertise. One of my favourites was government public safety campaigns 'Don't give fire a home' etc, so 'no' advertising is not harmful, but people can be sucked in all for the name of 'a' sale.


still nobody's bitch
Yes, I do think advertising contributes heavily to conspicuous consumption, and I think Madison Avenue bears some responsibility for the current financial mess we're in.


Certified Shitlord
Most people are pretty gullible, agree? I'd say most would. With this in mind, advertising is certainly harmful because people learn "wrong" information or they're sucked into believing things that are only half truths or stretches. To be an intelligent consumer these days, you need to be able to see past their advertising techniques. For example, Cash4Gold recently came under fire when someone tried to turn in some old gold and got it appraised for 180 bucks from an outside source and got a price almost a quarter of that when Cash4Gold responded to them.

Cash4Gold quickly changed their prices when he asked for the gold back and the guy even wrote up a blog about his experiences with them and how they tried to scam him. Cash4Gold even offered him several thousand dollars to zip it! Shit companies like Cash4Gold rely on stupid consumers which unfortunately, most people are. I think a highly important aspect of child rearing these days is intelligent consumerism. Look at what this and previous generations did to our economy. Frivolous spending and buying into all the latest fads and products.

Rant over, but yeah advertising certainly is harmful but it's not just the advertisers' fault, it's the people who aren't smart enough or pay close enough attention to realize when they're being squirreled.


Staff member
Well false advertising is a different thing altogether Cons. Companies get sued all the time for that.

Advertising in general is necessary if only to keep prices down and allow more services to pop up. New companies can't get going easily without advertising.

Look at companies like Google, Yahoo, etc, and every newspaper. Without advertising none of them would exist. Same with MOST websites that don't offer actual items for sale.
Last edited:


A Darker Knight
I heard a while ago that people unintentionally get dumber when they watch advertisements. I wouldn't be surprised if that were true.

With hundred of channels nowadays, you can just change the channel if you see an ad you don't like. Sometimes you can learn things from ads that try to use legitimate statistics. You can be entertained. You can also be persuaded. It's your job as a consumer to take in ads and decide what to do with them. It's only harmful if you don't see behind their tricks. Most of them are quite simple.


Certified Shitlord
It's not false advertising, it's deceptive advertising (like all advertising is). They didn't lie about anything, they just didn't give full information.