I’ve always been ambivalent about advertising.
First, there’s the issue of definition. Almost any communication is designed to “sell” you something: an idea, a belief, a faith, a feeling, a product. The Declaration of Independence, the Communist Manifesto, and the Bible can all be seen as “advertising” in the right context. Is trying to sell you (or “persuade you of”) an idea inherently better than trying to sell you a thing? You always pay for it, one way or another.
Second, there’s the issue of value. It’s not clear to me that advertising is inherently crass and without any redeeming value. Sometimes our pleasure in a thing, a brand, is very much associated with the intangible marketing message. The emotional power of pop music and Coca Cola, especially to those who aspire to the American Dream, is very much dependent on marketing.
And this barely skims the surface of the body of issues around the idea of “advertising.”
Some of these ideas drove me to write “Ad Block,” which you can read at Kasma Science Fiction.