Ads Are Suppose to Make You Unhappy

I was recently reading a book which pointed out something very important.  Marketing is all about making you unsatisfied and unhappy.  After all if you were happy and content you won’t need to buy what they were selling would you.  For some reason this concept was never that obvious to me.

So that to me that begs the question are people who avoid ads (by not watching TV for example) in general more happy than those that don’t?  I did a brief look around for some information on that question and came up with this link.  So in a generalized statement it appear a study has shown that TV does in fact make you less happy, but is it the ads or the shows (or is there really a difference anymore)?  To be honest I’m not sure, but the concept is still interesting.

So let’s step back and examine this in a larger context.  So watching TV makes you unhappy and provides you with ideas on ways to spend money on things that make you temporarily happy until you watch more TV and feel unhappy again.  WOW, that has the potential to be a down right evil cycle to get sucked into! No wonder people I run into who are in this cycle don’t seem all that happy in their lives.

Is that what’s wrong with us? Too many ads and wants from those ads for things we don’t need.  I don’t think it’s the only reason, but there does seem to be a good idea on watching less TV or subjecting yourself to ads.  You could end up happier and buying less stuff.  Then if you are really smart you could save part of that money to leave work earlier and likely have a better retirement since you actually have interests outside of a TV.

It would be an interesting experiment to do for someone who does watch a fair amount of TV.  Cut back for a month and see if your spending drops as well and if you seem happier.  I would do it myself, but I suspect my three hours a week on TV are really not influencing me all that much.  So do you know anyone who cut back on ads, did it make them happier and spend less or not?

5 thoughts on “Ads Are Suppose to Make You Unhappy”

  1. As someone who used to watch 30-40 hours of television per week, I can tell you that getting rid of cable was one of the best things I ever did.

    While I can’t say whether that made me “happier”, I know that is has dramatically reduced my “wants”, which has had a very positive effect on my budget.

    What’s even more bizarre is that I rarely watched any commercials on TV, since pretty much all my TV viewing was from my PVR, which allowed me to fast-forward commercials. I guess even viewing them quickly got their message across.

    The best part though is that I gave up TV because I started being active and had little time for such an activity anymore.

    We still watch TV, but it now comes in the form of DVDs, which gives us great flexibility at a very affordable price.

  2. It would be a really interesting study, though you’re right about it being quite difficult to determine the true cause and effects of the scenario.
    I cut back on TV almost entirely, but ads didn’t really effect me much. I’m sure they did in ways I just wasn’t seeing, but for the most part, the only ads that interested me were the ones that alerted me to things I already wanted anyway. For example, movie ads would cause me to remember that a movie I’ve been wanting to see is now available on DVD. An ad for a Big Mac or a watch didn’t make me want one, but I wasn’t interested in those in the first place.

    Side note: You accidentally left the d out of “Supposed” in your title.

  3. Maybe being unhappy takes away the will to do anything except watching tv, which takes the least effort? That could be another explanation, but of course watching tv isn’t likely to make you happier so it ends up the same.

    I can imagine people who buy Apple products feeling a bit of satisfaction every time they see an ad for it, but other than that I agree that mass-media ads are usually focused on making people feel a need. From a business perspective this doesn’t necessarily need to be the only function of advertising but not every business can be that good unfortunately.

  4. Quick Lunar Cop,

    30 to 40 hours a week!!!!! OH MY! I can’t wrap my head around that. Interesting that your ‘wants’ dropped off when you stopped.


    Perhaps you have it right. TV itself doesn’t make anyone very happy so stopping watching it as much is bound to improve your happiness overall.


    I’ve seen the film. It’s very good way to view the cycle.


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