communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.
The meaning of advertising
I got this interesting link from Zoso. This artist is mixing corporate slogans and Flickr photography in the avowed intention to prove this point:
"By remixing corporate slogans, I intend to show how the language of advertising is both deeply meaningful, in that it represents real cultural values and desires, and yet utterly meaningless in that these ideas have no relationship to the products being sold."
[Some examples above]
Naturally this sparks some happy grins on the faces of advertising haters because, lo and behold, someone has proved advertising is pointless.
This got me thinking what a vicious circle advertising is in. Companies make products but in order to make money these products are not all that special or all that different. Advertising is meant to make them different. But in order to make them different advertising cannot relate to something in the product (as shown above, economics prevents differentiation). Advertising thus needs to create something beyond the product to make it stand out. This has grown to be called the brand. A brand makes a product different but in order to stand out a brand needs to feed on its own difference and thus becomes ever more separated from the product is was created for. Eventually advertising promotes something which is very special but in very little ways connected to the product. So, QED the artist.
BUT, if advertising stuck to promoting what the product is then there would be only two options: EVERY PRODUCT would need to be very different or there would need to be so much fewer products and economics would suffer. Of course, there is the third option: no advertising.
In reality, advertising is a part of culture just like music videos and the reason it is so, it's because products are NOT so different, the marketplace does NOT work solely through direct to consumer and NOBODY would listen to or look at ads talking solely about the qualities of a product. As human beings, we have an inherent craving for stories and get them from every piece of culture be it movies, music, pictures or advertising. The trick, as with any artefact, is to make it good.