I am sitting here in my Captain Kirk style massage chair which cost more or less the same as a Toyota Yaris and wondering why the magazine under the lap top is Marketing Week (still in its plastic).
Now in the second week of my advert avoidance program I must say the irony strikes hard. Don’t worry, I won’t be opening it. The question is: has anything really changed in my world in the course of this ‘almost’ embargo of advertising? For those of you just joining me, the ‘almost’ embargo is that in London you can’t do a damn thing without being forced to take in some form of advertising. It isn’t the Highlands of Scotland, where I might get closer to a 100% advert free. Then again in the Highlands the lower demand for
What are people really referring to when they say things like: I need to get away from it all? I used to think that it was technology that was the monster they sought to avoid. Now, I am beginning to think that it is really the endlessly media bombardment of our cerebella that ‘we’ are trying to escape: it pounds us relentlessly: SHOCK AND AWE! SHOCK AND AWE!
Greater. Bigger. Better. Best. Highest. Pure. Real. Whole. Award-winning (how many bronze medal winning wines can you think of? Try Googling it, or Bing-ing it, there are many more than deserve such awards). So many adjectives; so few products… so they just have to reuse them from product to product – how many so-called ‘high quality’ products are there? I suggest to you that there are more than there are stars in the sky.
The big marketing and advertising machine grovels for new ways to communicate that their products are superior to their competitors – it doesn’t matter if we have heard it all before: we just get the most popular celebrity of the day to repeat the same words. Thus the shaving cream that the late President Reagan sold gets a make over and now Roger, Tiger or Ronaldo sell it. Does it matter that it is a different product? Not really. It does the same damn thing it did in the 50s or 60s unless you think that shaving really has gone new tech?
On that note I bought a razor recently. Despite my super-royalesque stature I have usually used single blade disposable razors from a a big brand. I read a review in, Which? (another form of
advertising which, much like Muji, was never meant to be a brand… The “no label” approach has now become its own method of advertising despite its noble roots… oops, I bought it again) and having read the review, I immediately ran out and bought the razor that had won their pundits’ hearts. Since using this high end, relatively expensive razor I spend more time trying to get in-grown hair out of my neck than I do sleeping. What a waste!
I digress. Has the embargo helped?
Yes, it has left my mind more settled and clear. I always said that living in he heart of London it was never going to be a perfect embargo, but I would have to say it has been a pretty damn good one. Unlike when I gave up meat for a month and a half, or diet cola, or coffee for six weeks I can honestly say that I notice the difference. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t because I am skeptical of such embargoes at the best of times. Maybe the ‘new advertising’ should just be old fashioned
word of mouth, a good and appropriate package and excellent service (a la Naomi Klein)? I am not Marxist either, but in the way that religion was thought to be the opium of the masses under communist doctrine, I am beginning to believe that advertising and marketing are the opium of the people under the capitalist system.
I suppose I am not the first to come to this conclusion (if that is what it is, I am still not certain) but I hope that I am among the first of many that will question the seemingly endless quest of the media to induce a type of Stockholm syndrome at ‘gun point.’ The Viscountess has pointed out that this analogy is a little nebulous, so allow me to clarify. Patty Hearst was kidnapped and eventually became an advocate for the very people that took her hostage. Consumers have become captive (as I said, in London, it is impossible to avoid consumer media advertising) and now consumers have become advocates for such terms as: higher quality, excellence, 5 stars, 3 Michelin stars, rosettes etc., so now we expect their use to help us. We advocate for the very people who have taken us hostage.