Members of The Debating Group largely backed a motion that "Advertising does much to improve the quality of life", sponsored by ITV.
Their vote followed a robust defence of the industry by Tess Alps, the chief executive of the TV marketing company Thinkbox, who proposed the motion. She said: "I'm tired of it being used as a scapegoat for society's problems."
Professor Gerard Hasting, the director of Stirling University's Institute of Social Marketing, opposed the motion. He singled out ad icons such as Ronald McDonald and the Marlboro Cowboy as symbolic of "manipulation by corporate power".
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