This is the most critical chapter of the book, which tries to discuss sociological and psychological implications of advertising. A fundamental problem with advertising has been pointed out by many critics, authors and academics: It causes more harm than good to society, it misinforms, it warps reality, it obviously tries to influence and manipulate consumers.

As individuals encounter ads, they inadvertently and often unconsciously form a psychological and emotional relationship with them. By using the technique of decoding the content of the ad, it is possible to detect the message and it implications for the recipient. Advertising is even more harmful to children and adolescents who are easily influenced and might copy the peers or role-models they see. In some instances, advertising is blatantly disturbing, such as the case with shock advertising.

Ernest Dichter’s approach to marketing is discussed: His knowledge of psychoanalysis revealed that for customers, objects had the meaning of sex, fear, rewards and prestige and this could be marketed to them. Fennis and Stroebe (2010) recount a famous ad for Listerine, which used fear and insecurities as a motivation for purchasing a product. Janice Winship, Anthony Cortese and Erving Goffman are introduced as authors who critically appraised advertising. In this context the spoof-ads of activist group Adbusters are discussed as a counter-measure to the typical advertising presented to us. Gender marketing, early sexualization and objectification is another important point illustrated by authors such as Jeane Kilbourne.

A further section examines what “Shock Advertising” is, how it came about and what the regulations on it are today. In this context, the shocking anti-anorexia campaign by Nolita and Oliviero Toscani is discussed.

The chapter features an interview with Jean Kilbourne, an author and activist who is internationally praised for decades of raising awareness of the image of women in advertising through her public appearances, documentaries and books.

Regulatory bodies: The next part of this chapter introduced regulatory bodies of the UK, Germany and EU as well as USA which help to control the content of ads. It is important to understand that brands and the advertising industry do not have complete control over the messages which they spread. Individual have the right to complain and there are many reasons why the authorities might recall an ad.

Reasons why ads are recalled are often inappropriate content, sexualization of children, degradation of women, sexism and racism, indecency or false advertising. In the fashion industry, the latter often occurs when women are excessively photo shopped in order to promote a beauty product.

Sensory overload: The negative effects that advertising can have on our well-being. Sensory overload is a term which is now well known and used by psychologists. Due to the excessive amount and intensity of advertising, we are often subjected to sensory overload. The question arises whether it is something we should accept or something we should amend. In the following chapter examples are shown of North Korea, Grenoble and Sao Paulo which chose to amend the amount of sensory stimulation for the benefit of the people or due to political ideology. In all three places, the landscape changes dramatically due to the limit or absence of ads. The chapter aims to encourage critical thinking and looking at alternatives.

The chapter closes with an interview with Evgeniya Sabelnikova, movie star of the USSR Mosfilm studio in Communist Russia in the 1970s and 1980s. She recalls the “ad-free” environment, how people perceived and obtained fashion despite no advertising or proper access to it and how fashion modelling was part of the fashion system there.