Mad Men – Advertising is not useless and evil, not only

It’s a profession like any other, you go to work, work, work, finish, go home, sleep and stand up again to continue where you finished. Many professions are like that but I recently thought about one in particular which doesn’t enjoy a good reputation usually: advertising. With advertising you have marketing and all the like, people who create “want”. Advertisements which make you buy, consume and throw away a product only to buy another one. People with that profession are regarded as evil from many who blame them for generating a never-ending spiral of pointless consumerism which has lead us to a wasteful way of living in which new products dominate. Advertising encourages consumers to dispose what they already have and buy a newer, better, faster product. Evil that is.

Nonetheless, only a couple of days back I was struck by a fault in my way of thinking or more clearly another angle from which one could look at the industry. Marketing is key for progress. Marketing is challenge to sell your product best which results in improving technologies due to more investment into research and development. Take for example TVs, there are dozens of brands for TVs, Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips and the list could go on. In the 60s when they first became popular they broadcast in black and white, were big, unhandy and somewhat uncanny too. Now, they are only as thick as thumb and do more than all computers did altogether back in the day. This only happened with extensive research, development, innovation, reinvention of technologies and most importantly through demand. This is only possible if a company has money, which it receives from customers who buy the products and only buy them if they know that it exists. With enough cash a company will create demand by all means of marketing, radio, TV, newspapers and internet. Therefore you need advertising, mind-blowing advertising. Subsequently, having solely R&D in a company will not be sufficient any more these days. Fierce competition in the market is ubiquitous. Few are driving invention, many copy-cats exist. And still, nobody will notice your product no matter how good it is unless you advertise it. This also applies to washing machines which revolutionized households enormously, food production and many other areas.

Basically, what I am saying is that such essential industries which depend on marketing drive invention largely in many areas. Marketing is necessary to create “want”, generate revenue and followingly subsidise innovation. It is not only an evil industry that has caused a consumer society that is to be blamed for everything bad in this world. Marketing is as important an industry as technology, engineering and manufacturing. It is a catalyst for innovation and indispensable.

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