Enormous human and material resources are devoted to advertising. Advertising is everywhere in today’s world, so that, as Pope Paul VI remarked, “No one now can escape the influence of advertising.” Even people who are not themselves exposed to particular forms of advertising confront a society, a culture — other people — affected for good or ill by advertising messages and techniques of every sort.
Some critics view this state of affairs in unrelievedly negative terms. They condemn advertising as a waste of time, talent and money — an essentially parasitic activity. In this view, not only does advertising have no value of its own, but its influence is entirely harmful and corrupting for individuals and society.
We do not agree. There is truth to the criticisms, and we shall make criticisms of our own. But advertising also has significant potential for good, and sometimes it is realized.