The issue of advertising's effect on society is addressed by a very interesting column by George Monbiot entitled Sucking Out Our Brains Through Our Eyes. He notes that advertizing pays for his salary, especially as the sales of physical copies of newspapers decline, and newspapers rely more and more on ad revenue from online websites. Bloggers rely on ads too. But it is having a pernicious effect on our culture, making us more and more extrinsic in our value orientation, rather than intrinsic.
People with a strong set of intrinsic values place most weight on their relationships with family, friends and community. They have a sense of self-acceptance and a concern for other people and the environment. People with largely extrinsic values are driven by a desire for status, wealth and power over others. They tend to be image-conscious, to have a strong desire to conform to social norms and to possess less concern for other people or the planet. They are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression and to report low levels of satisfaction with their lives.
Monbiot ruminates on how dependent he is on advertizing for his income. I'm guilty too, in that I enjoy the free content on websites ("free" websites are made possible by ads, of course). If people were more aware of how ads distort their thinking, they might be more careful. But research has found that everyone overestimates their ability to discount advertising. It really is insidious. And it is about to enter the Notre Dame stadium, which is practically sacred ground. There really is no place safe from advertizing. How many years before there are corporate logos (aside from the jersey manufacturers) on players' uniforms?