I hate advertising. I go to some effort to avoid being in situations where I am forced to consume advertising. I take issue, however, with the extremist rhetoric spewed by some people who seem to think that advertising turns people into shambling zombies who will buy whatever they are told.

Personally, I think these people are giving advertising much, much more credit for effectiveness than it deserves. Several studies have been done by marketroids which indicate that banner ads are stunningly ineffective. Now, it's very easy to assess how people are reacting to internet ads, because clickthrough can be directly monitored. On the other hand, it's pretty hard to figure out how people are really reacting to television or print ads, because interest in a product or service cannot be automatically traced back to the ad. With those two facts in hand, it really makes me wonder why companies haven't made the logical leap to the idea that maybe all other advertising is as miserably ineffective as banner ads on the internet. That would mean that their whole marketing budget is colossal waste of money, wouldn't it?

I also dispute the assertion that somehow it is the seller's fault if a consumer buys something they don't really want or need. What ever happened to individual responsibility? And who the hell are you to say what other people want or need? Just because you think Britney Spears is a worthless piece of crap doesn't mean there aren't people who think she's the cat's pajamas.

To hear the anti-consumerist zealots tell it, you'd think their were marketing SWAT teams roaming the streets, busting down citizen's doors and marching them down to Wal-Mart at gunpoint. Let's inject a little common sense into this debate, eh?

Caveat emptor. People who uncritically accept the claims of advertisers (or the media, or the government, or the church...) get what they deserve when they reap the harvest they have sown of their own laziness and ignorance.