photo by Antonio Jose Fernandez (Lord Jerome on Flickr CC)

A new report by WWF-UK and the Public Interest Research Centre finds that advertising is killing our sense of social justice and concern for the environment.

The late comedian Bill Hicks used to say, ‘if you work in marketing or advertising, kill yourself’.

I remember watching that part of his routine while I was up for a job at an ad agency. I didn’t really want the position (sour grapes perhaps, since I didn’t get it) but I know what he means. In advertising, you have to lie and convince people they need things which they don’t.

What ads do is basically increase expectations and aspirations for materialistic aspects of life.

From The Ecologist:

We are constantly being bombarded with appeals to extrinsic values from advertising, media, celebrity culture. Currently, society is in favour of these values, which are leading us to be more materialistic, more individualistic and less concerned about environmental and social issues.

– Guy Shrubsole, director of PIRC and co-author of report

According to the report, advertising feeds our extrinsic values, which are those we think others admire in us, based on status and material concerns, as opposed to the intrinsic values of family, friends, community and personal passions. Advertising, especially on TV, encourages extrinsic values and causes one to be more apathetic about intrinsic values, including social and environmental issues.

Read more in The Ecologist and the original report on WWF.org.uk.