Advertisements are messages aimed at selling either a product or a service, seeking support and participation, raising awareness, or providing information. Through informing and influencing recipients, advertising is a crucial element of commercial enterprises in a capitalist system. It is through advertising that multinational companies successfully penetrate the daily lives of people across the globe to sell their wares. Advertising is closely linked to consumerism and aims to generate and

satisfy material desires. Potential customers are induced by advertisements to purchase commodities and services that may well not be essential. Indeed, advertising works through creating desire, and then performing a sleight of hand to make the desire seem like a basic necessity or need. Design, branding, packaging and display have become major preoccupations in contemporary markets, and are as important to the success of commodities as their utility. It is global communication in the form of advertising that has facilitated the spread and intensification of commodification and consumerism around the world. And as such, advertising has been crucial for the emergence of international culture. Global advertising has been the ground for arguments regarding the

nature of capitalism-as to whether corporations are presenting potential buyers with ‘choice’, or seducing their customers with tyranny, with advertising deluding the consumer into thinking they are the agent, while masking the source of real agency, the producers or capitalists themselves. The Fairtrade mark has effectively become the distinguishing advertiser

for goods traded following the Fairtrade Foundation’s certification criteria. But bigger and more controversial players like Starbucks and Nestlé have jumped on the Fairtrade bandwagon to suggest they are making concessions and being ‘fair’ to poor producers (consider, for instance, Nestlé’s ad campaign, ‘coffee with a conscience’ or Starbucks’ strap line, ‘We’ve always been crazy about coffee. Now we’re certified’). However, the smaller, older and more committed players in the field see this as a case of ‘fair-washing’ as the advertisements belie the fact that these companies use certification on a very small part of their stock, and their business practices, especially in relation to poor producers, remain unchanged.