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The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Glorifying Irrationalism

The 'Ambassador or 'face' of the brand is an accepted weapon in the army of the modern marketing team. And as customers, we are used to seeing movie, music and sports stars posing with their product of choice. It makes life easy for us and the brands. Word advertisements extolling the virtues of a product are at odds with today's almost bulimic acquisitiveness and our high-speed need to make snap decisions. Rather than pitching a complex message, it is far easier instead to communicate using celebrity shorthand.
Speaking for myself, I enjoy being seduced by these images. For instance, I use Nintendo Brain training and am reassured to see that Nicole Kidman is now its face. My longstanding consumption of two double Nespressos each morning is vindicated not merely by the convenience and taste of the product but by the decision to pay George Clooney to advertise it.
- Nick Foulkes, 'What Would Gorbachev Wear?', Newsweek

Reading stuff like this makes me think our culture of hyperconsumerism (which I define as, the utterly thoughtless and irrational buying of stuff you neither truly want nor need) has hit a new low. Marketing ads are simply propaganda (that the state doesn't have a monopoly on it as in dictatorships, doesn't change that), indeed, the teachings of Joseph Goebbels form the core of many a marketing course. I mean, we are "free to choose" and all, but the fact is marketing works. It works. It succeeds in making our decisions more irrational, more arbitrary, impels us to spend our buying power based on whether or not the product is associated with this or that person, rather than the actual qualities of the product. That this is good for the brand is obvious, I don't see how Nick can construe banalized irrational decision-making to be a good thing for consumers.

Seeing Newsweek not only condoning, but applauding, gives me a Brave New Worldesque kind of feeling... as though things are OK so long as we're dumb, fat and are too busy consuming to wonder if we're happy.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mathias (from CIV) said...

We are now all aware of the irrationality of hyper-consumerism. What is sad is that we have resigned to accept it, wether we admit it or not. The somewhat inescapable nature of the phenomena stems from the fact that marketing is the new educational system. We all feel strong enough to resist advertisement messages, in theory, though in practice, marketing rules a growing share of our daily behavior. What's worse is that we no longer realize it, and are left with the illusion of the freedom of choice.

PS: Just to let you know, that even though, I never post comments on your blog, I do check it from time to time. So keep it up.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Wyt said...

you know, it makes me wonder if there ever was a moment in history where "the masses" (us all) weren't being spoon-fed things to do and believe.

If that moment never existed, then I suppose that intellectuals have always been alone and disillusioned.

No need to fear marketing in particular.

P.S. yay Mathias! you've singlehandedly increased the amount of commentators by about 20%!

6:17 PM  

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