Across The Pond, Advertising Isn’t Water. It’s Poison.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Writing in the Guardian, columnist George Monbiot laments the necessary evil that is advertising:

Some adverts appear to promote intrinsic values, associating their products with family life and strong communities. But they also create the impression that these values can be purchased, which demeans and undermines them. Even love is commingled with material aspiration, and those worthy of this love mostly conform to a narrow conception of beauty, lending greater weight to the importance of image.

I detest this poison, but I also recognise that I am becoming more dependent on it. As sales of print editions decline, newspapers lean even more heavily on advertising. Nor is the problem confined to the commercial media. Even those who write only for their own websites rely on search engines, platforms and programs ultimately funded by advertising. We’re hooked on a drug that is destroying society. As with all addictions, the first step is to admit to it.

What’s a little more interesting here is that on his own website, he expands upon this column with a fully sourced and footnoted version to back up the quotes and statistics he references.

Most of us who work in advertising, if we’ve ever been conflicted about what we do, have come to terms with it. For a journalist and columnist like Monbiot, it’s much harder–especially these days, when advertising is subsidizing the old guard news media more than ever.

But I’m curious: Is there anything in the British psyche, or the mindset of its media folks, to be more critical and cynical about the power of advertising than here in America?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.