Although I like Danae, I must defend a portion of the advertising industry (the good part). Advertising is a necessary evil; it is needed to pay for entertainment and to communicate information (especially since no one wants to pay taxes for anything). It was not always easy to admit to working at an advertising agency: one joked that it would better to tell one's mother that you worked in a brothel than to admit the truth.
I worked many years in or around advertising all over the world. I have been involved in the making of some great advertising, and I have been associated with some bad advertising. All ads set out to communicate something (often crap, which anyone watching late-night television knows), but do so with varying degrees of creativity and success. Often it is a question of money, but more a question of creativity and boldness.
I like good advertising. I recall pouring over every ad in The New Yorker on cold winter nights in Vermont, trying to imagine different worlds. The good ones helped my imagination soar; bad or mediocre ones were quickly passed over.
I dislike mediocre advertisements. They result from shoddy thinking on the part of their creators and/or poor decisions by buyers (ie. companies commissioning the work). I often shake my head and wonder how people can be so foolish to waste resources; they could be so much better.
I loath bad advertising. It makes me angry. Because it is so easy to make advertising and buy space, people think that it is easy. It is not. Good advertising takes great thought, money for good production values, and a respect for the audience.
Advertising does not have to be mediocre or bad. But, since it is commissioned and created by people, it tends to be more average or bad than good…like people.
NB. After giving a speech of the same title at a symposium, I outlined and started to write a book: Why is there so much bad advertising in the world? I decided that no one would care. Everyone thinks that he or she is an expert on the subject, because everyone has an opinion about advertising. It is easier to live with my disappointment than to attempt to change the world…