I Strongly Dislike Advertising

I strongly dislike advertising.  I really do. We all dislike ads disrupting our shows, but that is not what I mean. Advertising is blatantly manipulative and deceptive.  It approaches us all as consumers and actively promotes a consumer mindset in the viewer.  Some ads are funny, some are sexy, some are seductive, some are in your face, and on and on it goes, but they all share the same goal: to directly affect your behavior.  

Sadly, it seems the best way to do this is through directly linking material products with either (or both) highly emotional content (while at the same time pushing the idea that it is our emotions which are our masters) or some form of transcendence.

My own awakening to these things began in university, but really took hold when Kristina and I went to S.Korea.  While there we were bombarded with as much advertising as ever. Only one thing changed: it was all in Korean.  Suddenly robbed of context and content the ads looked ridiculous.  Kristina and I used to laugh away as we watched people dance and sing and whine and yell and on and on.  Juice shot through the street and both Kristina and I wondered how the Korean people could stand such ridiculous and silly ads.  I mean, how much nonsense could they tolerate? 

Then we came home... and the ads here are all the same. Not only that, but they became about 100 times as intrusive.  I had just lived a year without being advertised to.  Do you have any idea what that is like?  I bet you don't.  Let me tell you, it is amazing.  It is like a piece of your brain which had always been occupied fending off the vicious assaults of consumer research departments is unchained and set free to run along sunny beaches and green flowery meadows.  Like a soldier coming off duty that part of my brain relished it's furlough, temporary as it was. 

Things to Think About

The character of “The Consumer” is in many ways deeply anti-Christian.
  • Schooled in insatiability. 
  • Values freedom, as defined as a vast array of choices, above all else. 
  • Taught that a person is basically a bundle of unmet needs that can be requited by commodified goods and experiences. 
  • Highly individualistic and self-centred. 
  • Encouraged to change often, in effect nullifying long-term commitment and fidelity.
Add to this the constant promotion of vices (greed, pride, lust, envy, gluttony, and sloth; the only one of the 7 deadly sins not in abundance in advertising is anger.  I guess angry people don't buy enough stuff) as well as the disjointed nature of your experience of reality via TV (news, completely focused on terrible events, punctuated, or punctured, by advertisements). 

And what about these slogans:
  • Obey your thirst
  • It keeps going, and going, and going...
  • The real thing
  • I'm lovin' it
Think about those.  What are we commanded to obey? What is everlasting? What is real, ultimately? What does it mean to love and who do we love (NOT WHAT!!!)? Yet here are purely material products playing blatantly upon the transcendent.  

This has basically been a rant. If your wondering what set it off, it was a weekend outing yesterday.  We visited the Burnaby Village Museum Christmas display, which opened yesterday.  I took pictures of some of the ads that were there, which you saw above.  I didn't realize that ads had always appealed to the transcendent, to deception, to emotions.  They just used to be a lot more clumsy about it.  I guess that's what billions of dollars spent on market research gets you.  

If you want to know what’s really going on in a society or ideology, follow the money. If money is flowing to advertising instead of musicians, journalists, and artists, then a society is more concerned with manipulation than truth or beauty. If content is worthless, then people will start to become empty-headed and contentless.
- Jaron Lanier

Buying is much more American than thinking.
- Andy Warhol 

We are no longer eating food or drinking drinks; we practice ‘body management’ and are buying convenience, escape, energy. 
- Marc Gobe 

Commercial television is ruthlessly secular.  Its emphasis on the immediate, the here-and-now, the accumulation of goods, and the denial that there is any higher experience than consuming and watching TV… ultimately, conventional religion is heretical to television’s very notion of itself.
- Stephen Stark  

We are threatened by a new and peculiarly American menace.  It is not the menace of class war, of ideology, of poverty, of disease, of illiteracy, of demagoguery, or of tyranny, though these plague most of the world.  It is the menace of unreality.
- Daniel Boorstin 

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