Reducing the negative impact of advertising (2022)

Reducing the negative impact of advertising (1)

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by Jeremy Williams

10 Comments on Reducing the negative impact ofadvertising

In yesterday’s post, I looked at a recent report that analyses the role of advertising in shaping cultural values. It concludes that advertising is something of a negative force, and that “the potential impacts of advertising should be of pressing concern to a wide range of third sector organisations—irrespective of whether they are working on poverty, climate change, child deprivation and neglect, abuse of human rights, ecological degradation, physical and mental ill health, or failure to place proper value on non-human life.”

I’m working on most of those things, so what can be done about advertising? Here are a few approaches.

Reducing the negative impact of advertising (2)

Banning advertising to children
Psychologists have shown that children are particularly susceptible to advertising, and that below the age of 12, they are unable to tell when
someone is trying to sell something to them. If that’s true, then this is a human rights issue – if children don’t recognise the concept of marketing, then they are unequipped to deal with the information presented to them. This makes all advertising to children exploitative, regardless of the merits of the product itself.

Children should not be seen as consumers, and research has linked the commercialisation of childhood with low self-esteem, unhappiness, bullying and premature sexualisation. The latter has been something of a crusade for David Cameron, so there is hope that his interest will lead to action if he isn’t swayed by the advertising lobby. He shouldn’t be afraid of getting stuck in: a survey for the Children’s Society shows there is considerable concern about these issues, and there is broad support for tighter regulations on advertising to children. Sweden has taken the step of banning all advertising to children, and we should do the same.

(Video) How Advertising Rewires Kids' Brains

Protecting public space
Public space belongs to all of us. Our streets are a commons, and they should be protected from ‘visual pollution’. Not just because visual clutter is aesthetically unappealing, but because it’s a matter of freedom. If I’m watching a TV programme, I accept that the ad breaks are part of the deal. If I’m on Facebook, I recognise that those ads in the sidebar are how the company makes its money, rather than charging me to use their service. If I’m walking down the street however, that’s different. As the authors of The Advertising Effect (pdf) put it, “people should have the freedom to choose when they are exposed to advertising: when to look at product information and when not to.”

Reducing the negative impact of advertising (3)

There is precedent for this. As I’ve written about before, Sao Paulo banned billboards and outdoor advertising in 2007. I don’t know if the policy still stands, but excepting the ad agencies, it was popular at the time. Britain doesn’t have billboards on its motorways, which I’m grateful for. (The ones you occasionally see are on old farm trailers, evading the law by being mobile). Many US states or towns ban billboards, Beijing has restrictions on size and placement, and this year the mayor of Moscow vowed to reduce outdoor advertising by 20% by 2013.

PS. If you want to see what London would look like with no commercial messages at all, check out the art of Gregor Graf.

Taxes on advertising
Given that advertising has detrimental effects on society, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to tax it appropriately. Cigarettes and alcohol are taxed and rates that reflect their damage to society and the cost to the NHS in picking up the pieces. Shouldn’t the same principle apply? It shouldn’t be a flat rate or it would squeeze out non-profit advertisers, but taxes ought to be used to subsidise things we want more of and to discourage things we want less of. So perhaps there could be a sliding scale of taxation – higher prices for those who want to advertise unhealthy or environmentally destructive consumption (cars, fast food) and lower rates for socially beneficial subjects (charities, government services, awareness raising campaigns).

Ad agency accountability
Behind most of the high-profile adverts that we see are agencies that develop and create the campaigns. We’re aware of some these, Saatchi and Saatchi or Ogilvy for example, but we generally don’t know who’s behind any given campaign unless we take the time to look into it. Adverts have considerable power to influence society’s norms and values, but the companies behind them are completely unaccountable. The Compass think-tank believes that ad agencies should have their own logo and name on the ads that they create, as a measure of accountability.

Compass also suggests an alternative way of taxing advertising, through a time and resources levy. Some of society’s most creative minds work for advertising agencies, including writers, designers, artists and film-makers. The world of advertising is a vibrant source of new ideas and innovative visual arts in particular. So what if those agencies were obliged to offer a certain percentage of their time to good causes for free, and put that creativity to positive use? Many agencies already do this of course, and the magazine Adbusters was founded by socially conscious designers using their spare time to atone for the sins of their day-jobs.

Restrict new forms of advertising
Clamping down on current forms of advertising is difficult, but we can halt the creep of advertising. I know I’m always spotting adverts in new places – moving screens on the tube, bus stop ads that talk or play tunes, ad screens in the back of taxis. Youtube videos now have adverts that pop up across the video. They didn’t used to be there.

While some of these are just elaborations on existing ad space, some of them are very invasive. It’s not really possible to put new forms of advertising to public consultation ahead of time, so what’s needed is a regulator that is able to move fast and decisively. In Britain the advertising industry regulates itself through the Advertising Standards Authority, but their remit is limited and they do not carry the force of law. They also move rather slow – they only started supervising advertising on the internet in March this year. Perhaps the ASA should be toughened up a little, or maybe the government needs to work more closely with them.


No doubt there are bigger things that could be done, and probably should be done, but all of those are politically possible and offer a starting point. Anyone got any other suggestions on how we reduce the negative impacts of advertising?


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(Video) Importance And Benefits Of Advertising


What are the negative effects of advertising? ›

We have become completely oblivious to the effects that advertising has on us.
  • 9 Negatives Effects of Advertising.
  • Promotes consumerism. ...
  • Encourages you to spend money for no reason. ...
  • Buying more stuff is bad for the planet. ...
  • Affects children. ...
  • Promotes harmful substances. ...
  • Use of stereotypes. ...
  • Makes you feel bad.
14 Oct 2020

What is the impact of advertising? ›

Advertising helps companies aware of their competitors in the market and how they can better their product; Advertising is the foundation for any company to launch or release a new product; Advertising helps create customer loyalty; The demand for a product is a result of advertising.

What are the positive and negatives of advertising? ›

Positive advertising is also more common than negative advertising. Positive advertising techniques allow customers to trust the company in question more easily. Negative advertising, on the other hand, is the advertisements which work by warning the consumers about the negative consequences of some habit or behavior.

What are positive effects of advertising? ›

10 Positive Social Effects of Advertisements
  • Informed Society.
  • Health and Hygiene Awareness.
  • Rights of Consumers.
  • Preventive course for dreaded diseases.
  • New ideas.
  • Advertisements contribute to creativity of people.
  • Environmental protection.
  • Social changes.

What is the impact of advertising on society? ›

Advertising has brought in an advanced manner of building awareness about any product or a service in the society. It has enabled the consumers to have knowledge about the service or the product before making any purchase. Advertising has grown on the levels of creativity and innovation.

What is an example of negative advertising? ›

Examples of negative advertising

For example, a television commercial for a company that sells paper towels might show how their competitor's products are less effective at cleaning up messes to convince customers to purchase their brand instead.

Why is advertising so important? ›

Advertising helps making people aware of the new product so that the consumers come and try the product. Advertising helps creating goodwill for the company and gains customer loyalty after reaching a mature age.

What is importance of advertisement? ›

Advertising is important because it can drive business growth. Advertising works to amplify your small business marketing efforts and helps you reach the right audience with positive, targeted messaging that converts potential customers into paying customers.

How does advertising affect our behavior? ›

Advertising promote social messages and life style through illustrating the position of ideal consumer and stimulate social action toward purchase of that product. Advertising spending also creates positive impression about a brand in the minds of the consumers.

How does advertising affect the environment? ›

Overconsumption in general, encouraged by advertising, has a climate and ecological impact. But advertising heavily polluting products and services, such as for fossil fuels, aviation and petrol-engined cars, is particularly damaging. It's like the days when tobacco adverts were allowed.

What is the impact of advertising on consumers? ›

The known effects of advertising on consumers range from creating an awareness of the product or service to influencing a buying decision. Advertising can create a shift in thinking by consumers, which may take different forms.

How can advertising create positive social change? ›

It can shape social norms

By demonstrating and showing what appropriate behaviors look like, advertising can send signals and cues that motivate people to join the norm. This, in turn, can challenge existing negative perceptions and encourage more positive, beneficial behaviors.

Does advertising harm or help consumers? ›

A good ad increases sales and brand awareness. Consumers don't want advertisements, yet, an ad is a great way for consumers to find out about the products or services they do need. Understanding the way advertising affects consumer behavior will help you to create stronger, more memorable ads.

What is negative marketing strategy? ›

What is negative marketing? Negative marketing is a tactic that traditionally taps into negative emotions — such as fear, irritation, anger, or sadness — in order to elicit a response from the consumer, often in favor of what a brand offers or against what a brand opposes or competes with.

Is negative marketing effective? ›

Negative marketing campaigns have proven to be effective when communicating the positive attributes of a product while downplaying the competition. Campaigns surrounding social issues, such as Nike's, sometimes create negative responses but sincerely seek positive change.

What is a negative appeal in advertising? ›

Negative and Positive Appeals in Social Advertising

Negative appeals describe losses and unintended consequences of certain attitudes and behaviours by creating discomfort.

Are we influenced by advertising? ›

The study found advertising influences almost all consumers (90 percent) to make a purchase. It specifically influences 81 percent of Millennials and 57 percent of Baby Boomers ages 55 and older to make a purchase.

Do advertisements work? ›

Not only does advertising work, it continues to work years after the advertising stops running! The study also confirmed that advertising is a better investment than promotion and is more likely to pay back investment, in both the long- and short-term.

What is the most important thing in advertising? ›

The headline is the most important part of your ad because it either succeeds or fails in attracting your prospect's attention. And without your prospect's attention, you have nothing.

What is the role of advertising media? ›

It carries messages, stories or points regarding the product that is being advertised. It is a highly informative way to reach the masses and ask them to buy the product or avail of the service. Advertising Media plays a significant role in binding the direct communication relationship between the seller and the buyer.

What is the power of advertising? ›

Advertising has the power to establish awareness, the power to set the agenda, the power to suggest as well as influence, the power to convey new information in addition to the power to persuade. Advertising has short-term power (sharing new information, building awareness, enhancing credibility, etc.)

Is advertising a benefit for society? ›

Advertising is instrumental in generating more employment opportunities and creating diverse kinds of jobs. It provides jobs to artists, screen printers, block-makers, script-writers, painter, etc. Today, advertising has become a profession. Some companies do only advertising job.

What do you think are the major environmental factors influencing marketing research? ›

There are six critical environmental marketing factors. These comprise the socio-cultural, legal, economic, political, and technological factors. The external factors are significant forces affecting an organization, its competitors, and the elements of the internal marketing environment.

How does climate change affect marketing? ›

Stronger climate concerns may lead to greener product design… Stronger climate concerns increase the demand effect and the incentive to engage in cost-increasing sustainability. At the same time, the cost effect motivates the firm to increase price, which results in lower demand.

What is green advertisement? ›

'Green advertising' is defined as commercial advertising that uses an environmental theme to promote products, services, or corporate public images (Banerjee et al., 1995).

How does online advertising affect consumer behavior? ›

The most direct way digital marketing affects consumer behaviour is through the frequency and volume of online ads. Consumers who regularly encounter ads for a product or service will likely develop a positive opinion of that brand, and they will be more likely to buy from that brand in the future.

How does advertising affect people's purchasing decisions? ›

Advertising works by creating a pattern of associations that elicit an emotional connection or response in the intended audience, ultimately influencing the consumer's purchasing decisions, often in an unconscious way.

How do advertisements influence our lifestyle and attitude? ›

Advertising Influences Consumer Behavior

At its core, the influence of advertising in everyday life is the power to alter what consumers think and feel. A successful ad cultivates desire within the viewer and makes her want to buy a product while minimizing any doubts she has about the product.

What are the negative effects of advertising class 7? ›

(c) Advertising promotes the sale of packaged products. This negatively affects the sale of things which do not come in packets. This forces many people out of their livelihoods.

In what ways can advertising be bad or harmful to society? ›

Advertising blatantly uses sex and violence to make products appear cooler to the youth audience. And advertising, especially political advertising, can sway the course of a nation through deception and misinformation. Advertising is both pervasive AND invasive.

What are the negatives of advertising 90 words? ›

Disadvantages of Advertising:
  • Adds to the Cost of Production and Product: ...
  • Leads to Price War: ...
  • Deceptive Advertising: ...
  • Leads to Unequal Competition: ...
  • Creates a Monopolistic Market: ...
  • Promotes Unnecessary Consumption: ...
  • Decline in Moral Values:

What are 3 disadvantages of advertising? ›

According to the critics, advertising has the following disadvantages:
  • (1) Adds to Costs:
  • (2) Undermines Social Values:
  • (3) Confuses the Buyers:
  • (4) Encourages Sale of Inferior Products:
  • (5) Some Advertisement is in Bad Taste:

What is advertising used for? ›

Advertising is the techniques and practices used to bring products, services, opinions, or causes to public notice to persuade the public to respond in a certain way toward what is advertised.

How does advertising affect our behavior? ›

Advertising promote social messages and life style through illustrating the position of ideal consumer and stimulate social action toward purchase of that product. Advertising spending also creates positive impression about a brand in the minds of the consumers.

Are advertisements a good or bad influence on children? ›

Researchers links advertising to increased violence, obesity and eating disorders in children, as well as family stress and negative values. sensitive issues for the society and marketers. Results showed interesting findings that ads do not impact negatively on children‟s memory and behavior.

Why is advertising so important? ›

Advertising helps making people aware of the new product so that the consumers come and try the product. Advertising helps creating goodwill for the company and gains customer loyalty after reaching a mature age.


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