Advertising is essential to the look and feel of modern societies. Corporate brand names on neon signs, posters and billboards define the urban landscape, while the commercial mass media dominate everyday social communication and popular culture with their information, entertainment and advertisements. In their images and phrases, these advertisements give public form to changing social desires, moods and ideals: they are the official art of modern capitalist society (Williams 1980, p 184). Because of its pervasive presence and provocative appeals, advertising presents a fertile field of concerns for social critics, reformers and theorists, but it is important to understand the industry in a wider perspective.
Advertising, while not a medium of communication in itself, historically is the force which sustains all commercial media. More than just providing the main source of income for media owners, advertising gives the commercial media their characteristic look and sound, and orients the range of entertainment and information which the media offer us towards those audiences which advertisers want to reach. Advertising is thus a cultural industry which uses the media to connect the producers of consumer goods and services with potential markets. Advertising at its most basic is a form of marketing, integrated with the manufacturing-marketing-media complex of modern societies. Advertising is just the most visible end of this whole marketing operation (Caro 1981, p 5).
The way this institutional complex works is that manufacturers, and also service industries such as retailers and banks, buy time from the broadcast media in the form of ‘spots’ for commercials, or page space for advertising in print media. In practice, this is usually done through an advertising agency. The selection of the medium and the schedule or position bought will depend on the size of the budget and the prospective size and type of market for the advertiser's