I am not one to automatically assume advertising is inherently evil. At its base, any ad is an act of saying "Here's this thing you might like." It's when you get into lies about the nature of the product, exhortations to blind consumerism and other social manipulations in the message of the ad that things get icky.
I would, for instance, like to put most holiday ads into a gigantic Santa bag with lots of bricks and drop them into the deepest trench in the ocean. I'm considering just not watching TV, which is a completely unshocking concept to most of you but I've managed to get myself hooked on The Food Pr0n Network for reasons that are obscure to me and probably don't say good things about my mental state. On some fundamental level I really must know what those plucky, resourceful, sweaty chefs on "Chopped" are going to do with aardvark meat, pickle juice, marshmallow fluff, and pencil shavings.
Maybe I should go do something with my family instead. But ah -- I don't have any except for Gary, and my distant father. And that cuts to the second worst part about holiday ads (first worst thing being the CONSUME NOW! message when the planet is clogged with garbage and most of us are broke): the relentless emphasis on family: happy family outings, happy family gatherings, friends and family good cheer.
I have nothing against family. But if you don't have one -- or if yours is irreparably fractured or dysfunctional -- holiday ads have this way of rubbing your face in it all.
TV: "Buy your mom something special this holiday season at JARED!"
Lonely Person: "Fuck you, JARED, my mom's dead!"
And some ads are just plain smarmy and bad. Car ads are often pretty lousy (from an advertising perspective) in that they're sleek and shiny and expensive and when they're over you have no clue what the advertisement was for. If you haven't linked the product in the consumer's mind the ad is a failure. But what's worse is an ad that DOES put the product in the consumer's mind, but links it to negative traits.
Like, being massive assholes:
Way to go, Audi.