The second in a series of debates in which some of best known institutions and features of British life are put to the test: do they really work for us or is it time for a radical re-think?
Advertisers claim that their work is an essential part of the market economy, providing vital information to consumers. They say adverts have played an important role in helping to break down stereotypes and that without the industry, Britain's thriving independent media wouldn't exist.
But critics say advertising is a corrupting and manipulative influence on our lives. Its message is that we are inadequate without certain products and tries to sell us lifestyles which most people can never have. The industry wastes huge sums of money and represents a system of values which are divisive.
Which view is right? Diana Madill chairs a debate between writer Judith Williamson and Hamish Pringle of the Institute of Advertising practitioners with an invited forum of people with strong views.