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Advertising is to blame

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday April 21, 2009 )

In times of crisis, we tend to look for someone to blame and in the case of the current global economic woes, many Americans are pointing the finger at the advertising industry.

According to a nationwide survey of 2,220 U.S. adults between March 31 and April 1, 2009 by Harris Interactive, 66% of respondents believe advertising agencies have at least some responsibility for the current economic crisis. The reason being – because they prompted people to buy things they couldn’t afford.

A third of those surveyed believe that advertising agencies have complete or a great deal of responsibility.

56% of Americans of survey respondents say that news and other information websites bear at least some responsibility for the economic crisis.

People aged 55 and older are more likely to blame the advertising agencies and media.

While the blame game is an easy one to play; there’s certainly some truth in the accusations. A marketer is a form of psychologist who will often exploit chinks in a consumer’s emotional armor with the express purpose of getting people to buy something they may not otherwise have purchased.

When you think about it, like a psychologist, a marketer has a heavy load of responsibility on their shoulders. When we hawk stuff that we know doesn’t live up to expectations, it should really prick our consciences and give us pause for thought about possibly dropping some of the client companies we work for.

Like everyone, marketers have to eat; but perhaps in this brave new world more products will reflect the reality of hyperconsumption and provide more of us in the industry who actually care with a wider range of ethical companies offering solid and sustainable goods and services to put in front of consumers.

We might not be the ones directly cranking out the pollution, making the often shoddy non-essential items or devising the nasty contracts that tie consumers to expensive services they don’t need – but we certainly form a part of the problem by conveying the lies and deception to the point it’s an accepted and encouraged practice.

Read more of the Harris survey (PDF)

Lies, damned lies and marketing online


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