Advertisers and agencies like to claim that ‘advertising is the motor of the economy’. And that ‘freedom of commercial speech’ is one of the greter goods brouight to us by democracy. However, as is often the case with advertising, their claims do not have as much to do with fact as they do with nonsense.
None other than the great Noam Chomsky stated that advertising is actually bad for a free market. A functioning free market can only exist when consumenrs can make informed choices. Adverising tries to make consumers do the exact opposite: make irrational choices, based on irrational, often false, information.
Free commercial speech
Freedom of speech is a great good for all demcracies. It guarantees that all opinions, thoughts and ideas can be spread. But commercial speech as in advertising is not an opinion, nor a thought or idea as intended. Advertising does not (anylobger) aim to inform consumers about a certain product or service. It aims to manipulate consumers into spending as much on a certain product or service. By connecting luacrative emotions to their product, subliminal cues or irrational fears. They do research into what drives consumers to buy certains things and feed back that information to them.
The advertising democracy
For a politician is a lot more important what he or she looks like (tall, good hair, low voice, no sweating) than what their, intended, policies are. We all know that. but that does not stop us from still being influenced by those very things. And the problem is, the people that are in a position to do something about this, by setting up campaigning legislation for example are the very same people who wounded up in that position by exploiting that situation: politicians.
Should advertising be forbidden? Probably, but purely for ethical reasons. It won’t do any practical good. If there were no longer commercials to feed us lies and manipulation we still wouldn;t be able to make a truly rational choice for a certain product based on precise and exact information. It’s just not the way our minds are wired. Scientist estimate that over 85% of our behaviour is irrational, not planned. And that may actually be good thing. Who wants to be a computer after all?