I hate marketing people. This much you already knew about me. I've been trying to encapsulate just how I feel about the profession and how dirty it is, and I finally hit on it in a Twitter post this morning: "Marketing is like being raped in your sleep. By the time you realize you've been fucked, it's too late to get rid of unwanted product."
As a business major I've met more than my share of future marketing guys. I even, as a requirement for my degree, took a marketing class this summer (sift through the May/June archive if you want my take). The earnest do-gooder attitude, like marketing makes the world a place worth living in or something, is the core conceit of those particular students. They are like religious evangelists, preaching the gospel of shallow, materialistic conspicuous consumerism and acting like High Avatars for the Economy (there's something very South Park about that mental image). In their world, the poor, unfortunate folks who don't have all their useless crap are like hollow, impoverished Third World urchins.
It does, however, invite the interesting question: If not for conspicuous consumerism, would the economy collapse completely? If everybody bought only what they needed and lived within their means, finding small luxuries once in a while and not allowing their purchases to define them (very Fight Club, no?), then how far would the GDP drop? Would automakers go completely out of business if it weren't for relentless advertising of "get this year's new model" to people who already have perfectly serviceable cars, many of which don't even have fifty thousand never mind 100,000 or more miles on them? Would the housing market completely and utterly collapse to the point where we'd have McGhostTowns worthy of the mining-bust tourist attraction areas of the Old West?
I fear that the only thing keeping the whole nation afloat is that when the marketing people come around to forcibly impregnate us with stupid ideas and ultimately unsatisfying wants, we've got to do our patriotic metaphorical duty and spread our legs and try to like it. Something tells me a good 1930s redux Great Depression of the sort the government beggared our future to try and avoid this time is about the only thing left that will save us from ourselves. That, or mass exodus so the entire United States looks like East Berlin before they put the Wall up.
Shakespeare had the right idea but the wrong target. First thing we do, let's kill all the marketing weasels. "Weasels", rhymes with "measles", so immunize yourself and realize that mass marketing is a disease on the landscape.