Shakespeare advertised his plays, of course, but not in the commercial sense we know today. For more than a hundred years, though, commercial advertisements for products and services have been vying for the attention of the consumer. Those businesses found that the bigger and bolder the claims they made, the more people bought their products and chose them over the competition.
The fiercely competitive businesses of advertising and marketing were born. Today those businesses alone are worth billions and even trillions of dollars. They infiltrate and influence every purchase we make and many we do not even intend to from our early ages through to our retirement homes and even our burial plots. We are literally bombarded with advertising for products that we do not even need from the moment we are born. Is this really a necessary and healthy part of our free economy, or is it an infringement of our freedom? Is advertising really anything more than a cynical manipulation of our wants and needs? You have to be clever and determined to avoid being used by the marketers but you can resist their lures.
Like them or loathe them or merely indifferent, advertisements are everywhere. They dominate our lives, from the TV, radio and internet, through to the billboards that seem to be everywhere. They sponsor and infiltrate the sports we watch. Even the clothes we wear are covered with advertising material, advertisements and logos for products and companies. Should you want to watch a film, you'll sit through twenty minutes of advertising before it even starts. You'll also be watching the film and its stellar cast place product after product in front of your eyes. You'll be subject to product merchandising, for clothing, for toys and lately for the growing market of video games. Captive cinema advertising as it is appropriately called is worth more than $300 million dollars a year in revenue. You would use your time more wisely by going to the toilets during the commercials!
Before you leave the cinema, you'll probably have even watched the trailer for the sequel. Welcome to the world of relentless, In your face' advertising. Welcome to our world. How many advertisements do you think you are exposed to each day? Would you have said five, ten, perhaps or even one hundred? Believe it or not, three thousand advertisements pass in front of our eyes on an average day. They try and sell us everything from the latest fashion must haves, shoes to die for, cars that are indispensable and make-up and beauty products that we Desperately' need. They tell us what food we should eat to make us happy and healthy and what drinks will quench our thirst and revitalise our energy. The list is endless, and the really sad thing is it works: we actually buy the products. The truth is advertising pays handsomely or they would not do it. Be sensible enough to know advertisers aren't doing you a favour; they are putting more money in their own pockets.
Pick up any of the thousands of magazines available on the newsstand, and what can you see but page after page of advertising? Yet the truth is without the revenue generated by those advertisements, you wouldn't even have a magazine to read. That would not be so bad were it not for the fact that the magazine is filled with celebrities promoting and advertising their books or films, or recipe pages that advertise ingredients that you need to buy, and fashion pages that are nothing more than one long advertisement. All this is on top of countless page after page of advertisements for finance, cars, watches, clothes and the like.
You'd think we'd be immune to it by now. Not a chance of it. We fall for every attempt to appeal to our pride, envy and even our greed. We believe everything the...