We’re surrounded by advertising. Every single day, no matter where we are, thousands of auditive & visual stimuli are force-fed to our brains. (...)

The thing is, recent advances in psychology, social science & cognitive research have demonstrated that humans’ decisions are far less conscious that we thought they were. There is increasing experimental evidence for the effectiveness of advertising in influencing people’s choices without their conscious awareness. (...)

Our ability to quickly and effortlessly form associations and categorize items is a truly remarkable skill. Because it’s innate and shared among humans, we fail to notice or realize how exceptional it is. On the contrary, AI developers and robotic engineers — because they’re struggling to teach this aptitude to machines — know how singular it is. We’re actually not that good at solving complex math equations or intricate logic problems: what really sets us appart is our capacity to efficiently generate and make use of a seemingly infinite number of associations.

Each of these unconscious associations is tied to positive or negative emotions, depending on your personal experience. This is called valence: the intrinsic attractiveness or averseness of an event, object or situation. For instance, some people consider Halloween a cheerful event, while others find it rather depressing or annoying. Same goes for birthdays, clowns, thanksgivings, etc.

What does that have to do with advertising? Well, ads are designed to create those associations in our mind. (...)

Advertising has an access-all-areas pass in today’s society, a pass of which the industry is taking full advantage to seed superficial needs and consumerist thoughts in our minds. Because of its omnipresence and effectiveness, advertising should be considered a public issue as it constrains our ability to solve social and environmental problems.

How can we imagine a better world when selfish, unnecessary cravings are planted in our brains by a constant influx of highly engineered marketing messages? How can we fight anxiety, when everything’s pushing us into social competition? How can we stop over-consumption and reduce waste when we’re told hundreds of times per day to buy stuff?

It’s time for a change.