Is advertising a private tax?

While reading Astra Taylor’s terrific “The People’s platform”, I came across this quote:

While it may look like we are getting something for nothing, advertising-financed culture is not free. We pay environmentally, we pay with our self-esteem, and we pay with our attention, privacy, and knowledge. But we also pay with our pocketbooks, and this key. Advertising is, in essence, a private tax. Because promotional budgets are factored into the price we pay for goods, customers end up footing the bill. That meant that, all together, we spend more than $700 billion a year on advertising, a tremendous waste of money of something that has virtually no social value and that most of us despise.
Advertising, after all, doesn’t feed or house us, or educate us, or enlighten us, or make our lives better or more beautiful. Instead, advertising makes our culture less spirited and fearless, more servile and uninspired. Surely all that money could be better spent producing something we actually care about.

As an advertiser, it’s painful to read her words. Let’s face it: More than 95% of advertising is pollution. And, too many people consider advertising as a personal tax to see the content they want to, connect with their friends on social platforms and get something done.

Terrible advertising is also a tax on brands. They have to spend more money to get any measurable results from their marketing efforts. As advertisers, we have a responsibility to create ideas that matter. Develop remarkable ideas. Create experiences that add value to the life of people. Entertain, engage and delight them.

What is great advertising?

Great advertising is truth well told. It’s an idea that resonates – REALLY resonates – with your customer. It’s a big idea that invites your customer to stop and think about your product. Effective advertising sets the mood for your brand and allows the customer to get lost in your product’s story. Worthwhile advertising is honest: 100% honest.

Great advertising understands how its audience acts and thinks. It also knows what its audience hates, loves, what they had for breakfast, their favorite color, where they go to work, why they don’t work, when they go to dinner, where they go to dinner, how they make dinner (looks like I’m hungry). You get the point! Resonance is established when communication with the targeted consumer is accurate, focusing on influential and specific wording, not just filler verbosity. Your customer doesn’t care how awesome you are; they care about how wonderful your product makes them!

Resonance + Simplicity = Superb Advertising. I believe extraordinary ideas can make the biggest difference in the world.

Simply, ads that don’t resonate are a terrible waste of money. They pollute the world and make us yawn. Or cringe. They feel like a burden.

Are you burdening people?

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