...something drastic happens.
We continue to see hyperbolic articles and posts about how advertising is "degrading" our society, or that media is "ruining" the TV experience because of — interestingly enough — the rise of commercials on TV. We've tried the method of reasoning with these people about why advertising won't go away. However, we neglected to take our audience into consideration. None of those people would do an Internet or blog search about advertising being here to stay. Nonsense; these people are into thinking that reinforces their own beliefs.
Taking a slice out of the marketing playbook, we want to consider the scenarios in which advertising and commercials — yes, the advertising industry itself — would cease to exist.
Advertising would disappear forever if:
1. The U.S. Government enacted martial law and adopted a control economy
Yes; under a situation like the USSR, where the government controlled every facet of media, business, and communication, there would be no need for AdLand. Commercials would be replaced with government propaganda, and infomercials would be replaced with testimonials from "free-thinking" citizens talking about how awesome the government is. The typical consumer would not need to know about their choices, because lo and behold, the choice will have been made for them.
2. Corporate America stops advertising
Why advertise, anyway? If the consumer is as smart as they think they are, and the products that brands sell are as good as the brands think they are, consumers will search and find the right product for them. Marketing departments would be fired, agencies would shrivel up, and the airwaves would be ad-free. Consumers could be completely happy knowing that they spent hours trying to find a grocery store, department store, or even a place that accepts returns and exchanges.
3. Consumers actually gain "perfect information"
Ah, yes; the theoretical concept becoming a reality. Coupon? No, thanks; the consumer already knows that the value of the case of pop you're trying to sell depreciated the moment it got on the aisles. The consumer in this scenario is so smart and so informed about companies, goods and services, and competitors that advertising would just be a waste of time. They would be so aware of their needs and wants that advertising to them to say something different would be insulting.
4. Congress passes a "no advertising" law
If our legislative representatives could agree on anything, they could listen to their constituents and conjure up a way to simply ban advertising. All of it. Everywhere in the country. Billboards would be torn down, AdLand would be decimated, and Madison Avenue would become one of the most vacant lots in NYC since its inception. Though brands could lose millions of dollars, millions of jobs would be lost and the consumer would no longer have any way to find any information about a good or service. But they should be thrilled that they spoke up and were heard.
5. Robots and/or Google take over the world
Probably one of the more realistic scenarios in this post. Google has no need for advertisers. Why still compete when they have won? With their behavioral targeting and predictive analytics, consumers won't need to look for goods and services; Google will know what you want and need. Enjoy life and hope that the "I'm feeling lucky" choice has a good ending.
6. The world ends
Whether it's WWIII, a comet destroying life as we know it, or the Second Coming — whatever the case may be, life as humans know it would stop.
Though terrifying, we all know zombies need brains and flesh. Fighting armies of zombies in a post-apocalyptic scenario would have little use for AdLand, unfortunately.
Our advertising haters are welcome to cheer for any one of these scenarios, but unless one of these crazy turns of events actually happens, advertising will continue to be in our daily lives. Marketing will continue to strive to satisfy the wants and needs of current and prospective customers. Whether you like it or not.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.