A world without advertising
How hard can it be to imagine and describe a world without any advertisements? It turns out that it is quite difficult to completely retrieve advertising from the Earth, even hypothetically, because besides the numerous negative aspects that advertising has, there are also some positive ones. The world without any advertising simply cannot exist, even though some types of advertisements are very annoying and many people wish to get rid of them, yet a majority of advertisements are helpful and timesaving as they provide us with essential information which we don’t have to seek out on our own. One of many reasons why advertising was even invented was the need to inform people and it has made our lives simpler, in a way. We live in a world where everything is sped up and because the time is precious, people have learned to appreciate simplicity.
The advertising in television or in a form of leaflets creates opportunities for customers to compare and choose the best alternative, when shopping. Imagining an alternative world without advertising is hard because it is a crucial part of every business and helps firms to be distinguished from their competitors. Without any advertising in the world, there´d probably have to be a monopoly for every type of business which would decrease diversity and leave so many people unemployed. Every company employs someone responsible for their advertising, after all.
Apart from retailers and entrepreneurs who mainly use marketing and advertising to increase sales of a certain product, there are others who make a living directly from advertising, creating campaigns for their clients in advertising agencies. Some job positions such as copywriters or art directors would disappear completely and millions of people would have nothing to do, nowhere to work and creativity would have a very limited space where it could be applied. In all honestly, advertising is everything. It is everywhere happening at any time. It is just a different name for communication which has been used in many different forms for decades.
Communication is the main vehicle of advertising and people have communicated since before they had learned to talk. In the past, when people needed to exchange or sell goods, the only way to advertise their product was to use the word of mouth. It was and still is the easiest and cheapest form of advertising that a company can use. If we wanted to ban all advertisements, the word of mouth would still survive, because it isn’t something that governments or companies can directly influence or something that can be simply banned. The word of mouth happens only if someone´s product is so great that people feel the need to recommend it to others. Advertisements inform, persuade and often manipulate.
Customers might feel that their free will is suppressed, if adverts intentionally influence their purchase behaviour and make them buy something on an emotional impulse. People like their freedom of deciding for themselves whereas companies like to increase the sales as much as possible. Therefore, in an alternative universe without advertising, some companies would struggle to survive on the market yet people would feel satisfied that no one is pushing them to buy anything they don’t want to buy. The creation of media is behind the advertising as we know it today.
We encounter it everywhere, while reading newspapers, watching films in television or listening to a radio, all these activities are accompanied by advertising so excessive, that ads now repeat every few minutes. From the psychological point of view, people living in the world without the commercials in television would have much more time on their hands and everyone would be less angry, because their favourite programs would always begin on time and they could enjoy watching films without any interruptions. However, without money from advertising, it might be difficult to finance any production of these programs or buying film rights.
Also, people would probably have healthier lifestyles because they´d have to walk around the town to find out about any new product since there would be no commercials to inform them about any innovations on the market or discounts. Advertisements fill the majority of newspaper space, if they didn’t exist, the newspapers would cease to exist as well. These days, the newspapers basically live out of their advertising, no wonder that printed newspapers tend to complain about the new era of online journalism because it provides little profits.
Ad-free newspapers would have to be financed by people with money but I doubt that anyone would want to finance it on their own because of how unprofitable it would be for them. Subscription would be another possibility to pay for the content but there might not be enough subscribers or a fee not high enough to cover the expenses associated with the creation of newspapers.
The internet is now such an environment that can be entered freely so people don’t have to make any payments for the contents. However, if we were to ban the advertising that finances digital contents, every person would be then obliged to subscribe for anything they´d like to read or watch on the internet. Nowadays, the ads are positioned in such a way that they block the viewers from their desired content, they pop up from nowhere or their choice of colours is so unpleasant that they are able to cause an epileptic seizure.
These ads should be reduced if not banned, whatsoever. We live in times when everyone is talking about social and environmental responsibility, but there are still hundreds of thousands leaflets printed daily. People generally hate the direct mail because it is too pushy, those who had put a sign on their post boxes saying that they didn’t want any leaflets and got them anyway, even more. The only advantage that the direct mail has is that for a retailer it is the most certain way to reach the wide target of customers. But what customers do with so much paper? They collect it so they can later exchange it for some toilet paper. The same leaflets can be easily found on the internet, we don’t need them. Also, desertification surely would slow down, if no leaflets were printed every week.
In my opinion, there are no advantages regarding outdoor advertising and it should be banned everywhere. It creates visual pollution, it is as repetitive and annoying as the television commercials and what more, it disturbs drivers from driving safely. Outdoor advertisements belong to a very special category because steps have actually been done to ban it, for example in Sao Paulo in 2007. Bans on billboards exist in other parts of the world, too. Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine in the US, Bergen in Norway, together with hundreds of smaller towns around Europe have made restrictions on billboards or declared no-billboard zones within cities. In Sao Paulo, such a radical change could have buried the economy but hasn´t, instead the inhabitants are now very satisfied with the city´s new look and many people think that the ban has created a better identity for the city. However, putting a ban on one kind of advertisement is something different than a world where no advertising has ever existed.
In Sao Paulo, people still get commercials in television or the internet so they aren’t short of information and news as it would be in a ad-free world. Although thousands are spent on advertising, economic growth is not so tightly connected with advertising and one can exist without the other. Such large amounts of money which are now invested in building new billboards or advertising in the television could be spent on helping the third-world countries or the environment. If there was no such a thing as advertising, companies would hardly expand to international markets unless they spent even more. Many companies which are now global, would only operate locally.
To conclude, there are so many reasons which make us perceive advertising as helpful, advertising sector creates many job positions, contributes to the world economy, ensures the existence of newspapers and TVs, helps us distinguish between firms with similar products and when it is creative and witty, it makes us love it and buy. There are, however, negative aspects of advertising, too. It manipulates, sometimes unreasonable money is wasted on commercials that a few people watch, some forms of advertisements exploit the environmental resources. Also, advertising often displays children to sex and nudity. It is almost impossible to completely ban it, because everything is advertising and a world without it couldn’t exist. However, steps are being made to reduce ads that are absolutely useless, such as billboards, and it turns out that the world can happily exist without them. These are steps towards a better future.