Reclame : zondige verlokking in een schapenvacht ?

By R. Feltkamp en G. Hendrikx
Published on January 14, 2022

Already in 1998 J. Galbraith pointed out that the main purpose of advertising, together with the production process is “to create desires — to bring into being wants that previously did not exist”. (J. Galbraith, The affluent society, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998, p. 135)

Recently J. Hickle brought back to the attention how advertising is one of the strategies growth oriented firms use to speed up turnover by promoting so-called "created wants".

Hickle writes the following : “The advertising industry has seen wild changes over the past century. Up to the 1920s, consumption was a relatively perfunctory act : people just bought what they needed. Advertissement did little more than inform customers of the useful qualities of a product. But this system posed an obstacle to growth, because once people’s needs were satisfied, purchases slowed down. Companies seeking a ’fix’ – a way to surmount the limits of human needs – found it in the new theories of advertising being developed at the time by Edward Bernays, the nephew of pschychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Berneys pointed out that you can provoke people to consume far beyond their needs simply by manipulating their psychology. You can seed anxiety in people’s minds and then present your product as a solution to that anxiety. Or you can sell things on the promise that they will provide social acceptance, or class distinction, or sexual prowess.”(J. Hickle, Less is more. How Degrowth will save the world, London Windmill Books, 2020, p. 213).

In 2017 Régine Feltkamp and Gerrit Gendrikx wrote this short reflection on whether such type of advertising may, from a legal perspective, be banned and what legal action can already now be brought against such type of advertising.