It seems you can’t turn around these days without having at least one of your senses assaulted by some form of advertising.
It seems that is not about to change any time soon. In fact, judging by the amount of money that will be spent on advertising this year, things are about to get a lot worse.
According to a recent analysis of the global advertising industry commissioned by advertising agency Carat, this year corporations globally will spend a whopping US$540 billion on advertising. This is an increase of 4.6% on last year, despite there being no big-ticket events, such as the Olympics, FIFA World Cup or US mid-term elections, on which to hang their sponsors’ logos.
In doing the rounds of the mainstream media, this press release disguised as news was painted as a good thing — it showed that the effects of the GFC were over and advertising markets were again starting to grow. This rosy outlook for the advertising industry is due to the expansion of advertising in digital media.
But that expansion has come at the expense of “traditional” media such as TV and print, which have experienced sluggish growth or declines.
It has also reduced creativity within the advertising industry. Advertising had been a place for creative and artistic types to find employment within the capitalist system, but the shift to digital advertising, particularly the automated delivery known as programmatic advertising, is reducing the need for creative or artistic advertisements.
However, what has been missing is any analysis of the social impacts of this spending or, indeed, why advertising is required at all. The only real analysis that has been offered by the mainstream press has been to compare that sum to the GDP of Argentina. While that indicates that it is a large number, it doesn’t really provide any scale.
To give these figures some perspective: the US$5.4 trillion dollars that will be spent on advertising this year is 28 times the amount spent on the global response to HIV and AIDS and 100 times the 2015 global annual operating budget for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Imagine if this money were diverted away from this parasitic industry towards socially useful work, to solve some of the issues facing humanity today, such as climate change, disease and the effects of war. Instead we have media that are compliant and unquestioning of the need for advertising, mostly because it is so inextricably linked to the capitalist system that to even try to look at it in any other light would be biting the hand that feeds it.
We need independent grassroots media, such as Green Left Weekly, to challenge the status quo of a system that can justify the spending of more than US$5.4 trillion on advertising while there are so many other issues that need to be addressed.
This is why we need your support! You can help us continue this important work by donating to the GLW fighting fund on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).
Donations can also be made to Green Left Weekly, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account no. 00901992. Otherwise you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007.