If Advertising Were Abolished…

with advertising…   without advertising…
ugly cities,
ugly countryside
beautiful cities,
beautiful countryside


If advertising were abolished, the world would not come to an end

A few things would change. We'd watch less television. We'd use local businesses more. We'd no longer be plagued by corporate propaganda. Our cities and our countryside would be beautiful again.

Maybe we'd all buy a little less, but I'm not sure that would be such a bad thing, seeing as buying things does not make us happy.

People who work for advertising agencies would have to find some other way to make a living. Who knows, they might find themselves happier as artists, writers, teachers, nurses and plumbers than they ever did as manipulators of consumers' minds.

Just about the only negative impact would be that people who own large buildings in cities or tracts of land beside highways would no longer be able to make money for nothing by putting up billboards. Generally, though, people who own large buildings and tracts of land are not short of money.

Actually, I'm not in favour of abolishing advertising. What I am in favour of is banning non-consensual advertising.

Advertising on television, in newspapers, in magazines and on the web is consensual, in that if we don't want to see it, we can just switch off the television, or subscribe to a commercial-free movie channel, or not buy the newspaper or magazine, or visit a web site with no ads.

Advertising on billboards, on public transit and on the sides of taxis, on the other hand, is non-consensual, in that when we're in public places we're subjected to it whether we like it or not.

Ever more jurisdictions are banning this latter kind of advertising, recognising that it's not only visual pollution, it's sensorial bullying. In a few decades time, it will seem barbaric that we could have allowed the rich, powerful few to pollute our world and bully the populace in this way.


Riccardo Antonini ⋅ 8 February 2013

I always sought that there must have been somebody else sharing my view about abolishing advertising. I always felt that there was something wrong with it. I have an original copy of Vance Packard book too but there is a more a fundametal feeling for me that I can not express here *now*. Hanyhow thanks for existing and I hope to be back.

Richard B ⋅ 12 August 2013

I'd love TV without adverts, they are really annoying. The BBC is getting pretty bad these days with their repetitive adverts.

I download my shows online with the ads cut out. I'm all for buying movies on dvd and tv show box sets, but watching stuff on TV on the channels with ads every few minutes is not entertainment.

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See Commercials Consume Lives for an analysis of astonishing 140,000 hours you'll spend watching television commercials in your life

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First published 21 April 2011

other pages on things made thinkable

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