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In Defense of Advertising: Arguments from Reason, Ethical Egoism, and Laissez-Faire Capitalism Paperback – 2 Jan 2007

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"This excellent, thought-provoking book thoroughly debunks popular, hostile misconceptions about consumer advertising, all of which boils down to the notion that advertising is a coercive, offensive, monopolistic force which must be heavily regulated by the government. An important advancement in the theory of advertising and its relationship to society."-The Journal of Consumer Affairs -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

About the Author

Professor Emeritus of International Business and Marketing at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (aka Cal Poly Pomona). See blog at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Case For The Virtue of Advertising 21 April 2007
By Barry Linetsky - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, business professor Jerry Kirkpatrick argues that advertising is an effective and necessary method of salesmanship, and that the principles of salesmanship should define the standards and principles of effective advertising. For this reason, advertising is a valid and beneficial tool of entrepreneurs that must be informative and persuasive to be effective. Advertising communications is an important mechanism through which consumers gain information about ways to satisfy and achieve the values they seek, and therefore serves a positive and beneficial role in society.

Kirkpatrick's arguments are not directed towards those who dislike any particular ad for its low-brow qualities, but rather aimed high to refute those who stand against advertising per se, on principle.

The book addresses important key questions such as:

- What is the nature of advertising?

- Is persuasive advertising wasteful or harmful?

- Does advertising benefit consumer interests or is it anti-consumer?

- Should some people determine which products are beneficial to advertise and which are not?

- Does advertising create unnecessary market instability and unwarranted competitive pressures, or are these attributes inherent benefits of market competition?

- Does advertising unnecessarily increase prices thereby `exploiting' workers and consumers, or does it ultimately lower prices by increasing sales and reducing per unit costs, thereby benefiting workers and consumers?

The arguments presented by Kirkpatrick form a basic and fundamental philosophic and economic defense of advertising aimed at refuting those who argue that advertising per se is wasteful, coercive, and generally pernicious. This book is not directed towards practitioners who seek advice on how to improve their advertising. It doesn't provide advice on how to create more effective marketing communications beyond defining the purpose of advertising.

It is unfortunate that it may be difficult for many practitioners of advertising and marketing to understand Kirkpatrick's devastating critique of the various arguments put forth by advertising's enemies. That's because the refutation of such criticisms requires the application of higher level philosophic and economic concepts that are outside of most people's general context of knowledge. Kirkpatrick does a great job explaining the essence of these concepts, but by their nature, they are not easy for the uninitiated to understand, especially when brevity of presentation is maintained.

Perhaps the most prominent criticism of advertising as a medium is that it is inherently coercive and must be addressed by an opposing coercive intervention of government. As such, the critics of advertising qua salesmanship tend to be critics of free-markets, free-speech, and personal freedom in general. Advertising is an outcome of freedom, and Kirpatrick argues that an attack on one is really an attack on the other.

Another major criticism of advertising is that it promotes individual values as against conformity to so-called `higher' values. At base, this critique of advertising rests upon the dispute in ethics between the virtue of self-interest versus social-interest, or egoism versus altruism. Economically and politically, this translates to issues of free-markets versus command economies, or capitalism versus socialism.

Kirkpatrick succeeds in addressing the philosophic attacks against advertising at all levels of the philosophic hierarchy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. He does so by taking a scientific individualistic approach, appealing primarily to philosopher Ayn Rand and economist Ludwig von Mises as his guideposts, hence the subtitle of the book: Arguments from Reason, Ethical Egoism, and Laissez-Faire Capitalism.

The arguments in this book pose a major challenge to those who attack the benefits of advertising and take a liking to business-bashing in general. Those who are serious about understanding the deeper meaning of these attacks and the fallacies they are based on as a means to defend the nobility of the principle of freedom of trade, i.e., capitalism, should find a lot of ammunition in this important book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must read 18 April 2007
By Reader Views - Published on
Format: Paperback
Reviewed by Stephanie Rollins for Reader Views (3/07)

"In Defense of Advertising" by Jerry Kirkpatrick is not a book for the general public. I do not believe that the general public realizes that advertising needs to be defended. I also believe that in order to fully grasp the concepts in "In Defense of Advertising," the reader needs to have a few semesters of economics under their belt.

For those who are interested in economics and advertising, Kirkpatrick does a brilliant job of combining philosophy, ethics, and economics to defend the need for advertising. As Kirkpatrick explained, "The critics who denigrate advertising attack not only advertising but also--by logic necessity--capitalism, ethical egoism, and reason."

Critics of advertising argue that it damages the economy. Critics claim that advertising create monopolies. It creates a barrier to the market and it increases price. Critics claim that it decreases price elasticity. "The brand loyalty, in turn, makes it difficult for competitors to enter the market and, at the same time, enables the advertiser to increase prices." In an era where all business owners want a "brand," critics argue that branding contributes to this monopoly that destroys free enterprise. "Brand loyalty of consumers, then, is the actual barrier that prevents other firms from entering the market."

Kirkpatrick explains the doctrine of determinism. This belief is based upon the idea that man does not have free will. If you follow this belief, people are controlled by forces outside themselves. Kirkpatrick explains that the doctrine of determinism is founded on the assumption that our bodies are always at war with our minds. Picture the cliché devil on one shoulder and angel on the other shoulder.

Kirkpatrick describes the connections between Marxism, Socialism, and advertising. "Again, I must emphasize that not everyone who criticizes advertising on `social' or economic grounds is a Marxist--at least, not explicitly." Outside of academic circles, we would call them Marxists.

A social criticism of advertising is that it "offends the consumer's sense of good taste by insulting and degrading his intelligence." Kirkpatrick points out that "taste" is subjective. Who is elitist enough to appoint them the "good taste" police? Why do critics of advertising think that everyone but them is too uneducated to determine what "good taste" is? "In effect, these critics charge that consumers have no free will and, consequently, helpless pawns of the advertisers."

The Austrian School of Economics does find that advertising is a "legitimate function of business entrepreneurship." I take great offense in the critics' argument that the public, including myself, is not intelligent enough to make informed decisions.

Jerry Kirkpatrick's "In Defense of Advertising" should be required reading for economics and advertising students as it shows the real-world implications of advertising. "In Defense of Advertising" has an index, so it would be a great book to use as a reference for term papers. This is a must read for people studying or working in advertising.

Received book free of charge.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comprehensive and Fundamental Defense of Advertising 22 Jan. 2007
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book constitutes a thoroughgoing philosophic analysis and defense of virtually all aspects of advertising. It traces the criticisms made of advertising to false philosophic and economic doctrines, such as determinism and the theory of pure and perfect competition. It defends advertising against such accusations as that it is coercive and monopolistic, creates artificial needs, and erects barriers to entry. The intellectual foundations of these and practically all other accusations against advertising are laid bare and Prof. Kirkpatrick carefully develops the foundations and substance of the replies to them. In the process, he sets forth the very important positive role of advertising and demonstrates its actual benevolence. This is an essential book for anyone seriously interested in understanding and defending the role of advertising in a free market. It should be of exceptional interest to Objectivists, inasmuch as it is largely inspired by the ideas of Ayn Rand.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should Be Required Reading For Advertising Professionals 27 Feb. 2007
By Reading It All - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mr Kirkpatrick states the case for the role of advertising in a logical, reasonable and intellegent manner. This book should be required reading in every advertising classroom in the country. When I picked up this book I never expected to discover a professional that so passionately defends the importance of the postive role of advertising in a free-market system. Well written and an easy read.
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