Advertising Self-Defense: Know When You’re Being Marketed At and Fight Back

November 6th, 2009 § 0 comments

Written and photographed by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

We live in a reality that’s filled with deception. Every day when you step out on the street, when you log onto your computer, you’re being attacked.

You might not even be aware how often these assaults are happening, and I guarantee you that you’re encountering more danger than you’re even aware of.

What is this threat I speak of? Marketing and advertising. People getting you to buy stuff to fill up your life. This is the reason your life is so cluttered now, and it’s the reason you had a coffee this morning (and I had coffee this morning, they told me it’d make me think better!) When you’re reading that magazine story, you’d better bet a publicist called a journalist at some point down the line and gave access to the information you’re reading.

Somewhere along the way we lost the battle against the constant barrage of advertising impressions and ordered that Big Mac.

One of the most important aspects of being a minimalist is learning to overcome the power of advertising, and free yourself from being overpowered by the constant messages to buy that surround us.

What is the first line if defense against marketers?
You have to recognize when you’re being marketed to. Signs that have products on them are obvious, but that friendly smile the sandwich man gave you at the mall? That’s marketing too. Smiles are good, they make people happy, they also sell MacBooks.

The Internet is marketing to you as well. That blogger who just read that amazing book? He’s getting commission. That tweet about the cool story that someone just read? Planted by someone selling something. Your yoga studio is selling something, and your doctor is selling something.

There are a billion other ways that you’re being marketed at, I can’t list them all here.

Wow, I hope this isn’t news. If it is I’m probably blowing your mind.

Why should you avoid marketing?
Because buying stuff costs money and clutters your life. If you successful avoided every marketing scheme on the planet, for a year, you’d be healthier, richer, and also infinitely happier than you are buying into that nonsense.

How are you going to exist in a world where everyone is a marketer?
Study marketing. You have to know one to avoid one, right? Start noticing every single sign, advertisement, reading material, on so on, until you believe you’ve thought about the product all the way down the line to its starting point. Maybe read some books on marketing, so you know the modern day strategies that are employed by people who are selling you stuff.

Realize that some of the best things for you don’t have marketing teams.

One of these is vegetables. No one is setting up a tasting table for kale and apples at your local grocery store, because there isn’t a big incentive to. Kale and apples don’t make big corporations tons of money, so there’s no need to push them. But they’re really good for you!

Basic forms of exercise also don’t have a marketing team. Yes, you’re going to be marketed at by a gym, a yoga studio, or asked to buy a bow-flex by your television. You have to recognize that the best types of exercise also don’t have a marketing team working for them.

When was the last time you saw an ad on your television telling you to get out and take a short jog? Exactly. No one is trying to get people to go jogging because jogging doesn’t make corporations money. You might see ads for jogging pants, but not the basic act, which is free.

How do you decide when to buy stuff.

If you avoid every form of marketing, you might say that it’s hard to decide when to actually make a purchase. Here is how I decide, because I do need some things to survive after all.

1, I ask myself will I use this every day? Every week?

This is a big factor, because I move around a lot, and I can’t be bogged down by a closet full of clothes I don’t wear or kitchen utensils that I don’t eat with.

2, How many times will I use this?

There are a lot of one-off products out there, like digital movies for instance. I have to balance the cost versus how much money I actually have, and how much I’m trying to invest that money in my future. A ten dollar movie is taking me ten dollars farther away from my dreams, is it going to be worth it?

3, Do I already have these?

A lot of companies are selling a better something than the last company, in hopes that you’ll upgrade. Upgrade only when necessary! Do they want you to buy better clothes? The clothes you have are fine, until they’ve worn out. Do they want you to buy a new cellphone? Yours takes calls, doesn’t it? Upgrades can quickly become an cash-draining vortex.

4, Will this give my life value?

This is even more important. I use this as a guiding light when I approach every purchase that I make. Will I learn something from this? How will this make my life better? I never buy something that will make my life worse, I never buy anything that will lead to my being less free. Think about this rule when you’re eating too, because there are some foods out there that will really make your life have more value, like kale!

5, Is there any way I can get this for free?

I use this one a lot too. You can read books at the library, if they’re not at the library, you can read them in the bookstore. TV shows are available on (cover you eyes though, there are ads!) Craigslist and freecycle have huge free sections which are constantly being replenished as people move or discard their old stuff.

It’s a dangerous world out there, hopefully these marketing self-defense tricks will keep you safe. Good luck!


What have you avoided buying recently? I’d love to hear in the comments.

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