brand wash redemption

The commodification of subjectivity. The critique of commodity psychology inevitably seems to be displaced and fractured, distorted, by the seductive appeal with which the commodity is portrayed: usually a fragmented fetish object from which different narratives emerge…

From Joseph Heller , Something Happened: So I tried to seduce her. (And failed.) I tried to steal her away from him — not steal her away, actually, but merely to get, if I could, my own fair share of that musky, estrous, overpowering, inexhaustibly marvelous and voluptuous blond married Viking (who was really just an overgrown, rawboned Scotch-Irish brunette from Buffalo with very large pores). And I got nowhere. Virginia spurred me on energetically with outrageous counsel. …”Go give her a fast bang,” she would advise. “She’s dying for it right now. A lady can tell. Walk right into her office and get her.”…So, with Virginia goading me on, I set out to seduce Marie Jencks. I tried in the only way I could think of: by loitering. I loitered on her premises for two or three minutes at a time whenever Len Lewis was away from his desk and I saw her sitting in their office alone. I lurked and hovered in her view perpetually, pretending to search for accident folders, expecting her to look at me one time and perceive suddenly, in a moment of effulgent revelation, that I had dark curly hair and was a better-looking boy than Tom Johnson and much more fun, and that she would then say to me also: “Are you busy now? Get the key.” I never even came close. The most I ever got from her was, “Are you going to spend the rest of your life in here?” or “Why do you keep staring at me all the time like a moonstruck cow?” or, shrewdly (she knew what I was after, all right, the sapient bitch), “Is there anything in here you want?” or, most unkindest cut of all: “You get out of her now. Send Tom in.”…

Hirst. Golden Calf. Read More:

We really don’t understand the nature of consumer society. Anti-consumerism is simply another marketing plank to help differentiate among brands, the “good” brands and the tainted, the ethical oils from the nefarious human rights petroleums. Ant-consumerism is really a religion and cultural force with celebrity priestesses like Naomi Klein and pitchmen like Morgan Spurlock or Paul Watson in some ways the evangelical equivalent of Pat Robertson and slicker versions with J.C. in a hybrid/electric.Status and distinction is still the locus by which these movements tend to coalesce. The indictment of modern consumer society sees celebrities in handcuffs over the XL Keystone pipeline invoking zen buddhism, the Dalai Lama and whatever paperback can fit into their designer jeans and outrageously expensive handmade satchel from some worthy artisan in the backwoods of Thailand.

Read More: ---Yet the anticonsumerist everyone-is-totally-programmed-by-the-culture-of-thespectacle rhetoric of AdBusters is largely incompatible with the perspective and politics of audience-oriented cultural-studies such that AdBusters is once again an uncomfortable text to parse.---

Houpt: Martin Lindstrom is creeped out by the way marketing companies can peer into our psyches by scanning our credit card history. He is appalled by the way they prey on our biologically based fears and passions. He thinks they’re often sneaky, underhanded, cunning. And he accuses them of lying on a regular basis.Mr. Lindstrom should know: For more than two decades, he’s trotted around the globe on the dime of marketing companies as a highly paid branding expert, leveraging some of those very techniques to help push the buttons to get us to buy more stuff…..

…But over the past few years, he’s had a change of heart: Call him the reformed smoker of the advertising world. Because now, though he continues to count multinationals like McDonald’s and Lego as clients, he also fashions himself as a latter-day Ralph Nader, sounding the warning bells about the damages wrought by the marketing industry. His 2008 book, Buyology: Truth and Lies About What We Buy, explored the burgeoning practice of neuromarketing: scanning people’s brains to scientifically understand what stimuli they best respond to (and therefore how best to persuade consumers). It sold 1.5 million copies around the world, and counted many in the industry as its greatest admirers.

With Brandwashed, his new book out this week, Mr. Lindstrom is sharpening his bite of the hand that feeds him. Its no-nonsense, attention-grabbing (which is to say, cannily marketed) subtitle? Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy.

---Joseph Heath:When the size of the economic surplus becomes sufficiently great as to permit stable relations of exploitation, the stage is set for the emergence of an explicit class society. The predatory character of the upper class is reflected in the fact that it is not only exempt from any “industrial” employment, but is positively barred from it. This produces a sort of transvaluation of values, in which the useless becomes celebrated, precisely because it serves as sign that one is a member of the dominant class – hence the social significance of leisure. Of course, the instinct of workmanship is never entirely extinguished. Once the predatory class is sufficiently entrenched, fewer opportunities present themselves for displays of prowess. Thus this class invents for itself new, labor-intensive activities, which may involve great effort and skill, but which are demarcated from the activities of the laboring classes by virtue of being explicitly futile in their aim.

…With Brandwashed, Mr. Lindstrom isn’t calling for a ban on any specific marketing practice; rather, he believes that educating people on the darker arts of marketing will make them savvier, more skeptical consumers – who will, if need be, put the screws to companies….There is, it must be said, something odd about Mr. Lindstrom’s working pattern: He helps out marketers, then writes a book about them, then helps out marketers, then writes another book about them. He is not a religious man, but he is almost Roman Catholic in his cycle of sin-confession-sin-confession. (Indeed, his own marketing for Brandwashed plays heavily on fear and hype, even as the book decries marketers’ dependence on fear and hype.) He insists that isn’t the case, that he’s trying to embrace ethical marketing: The work he does for McDonald’s, for example, is restricted to the realm of promoting more healthful menu options (carrots, etc.) to kids.

The question now is how much people care about what he has to say. In a PR stunt for Brandwashed, he conducted a real-time experiment in stealth marketing inspired by The Joneses, a 2009 Hollywood movie starring Demi Moore and David Duchovny about a picture-perfect family that turns out to be a front for marketers. In the summer of 2010, Mr. Lindstrom installed a family of five – the marketing executive Eric Morgenson, his wife Gina, and their three sons – in a Laguna, Calif., house outfitted with dozens of hidden cameras. As the Morgensons insinuated themselves into the community, they hosted a series of parties and events that successful

arketed a bunch of brands to their unsuspecting neighbours – while the cameras rolled.

But movie audiences were evidently indifferent to the premise of The Joneses – the film bombed at the box office – and when Mr. Lindstrom sat down with the Morgensons’ credulous neighbours after a few months to reveal the dark truth about their new friends, nobody seemed to care they’d been duped. Read More:

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It hardly seems worth analyzing the Black Spot campaign as it seems such an impoverished example of social critique that is neither especially socially minded nor particularly critical. But I would contend that this campaign, far from being discontinuous with AdBusters’ prior and broader politics, represents only the latest crystallization of what I will call AdBusters’ politics of [gestural] resistance, symptomatic of a broader tendency in many ostensibly resistant social texts. And this politics, which seems to be becoming remarkably fashionable in a variety of circles, must be critiqued as not only inadequate for confronting the contemporary global political and cultural hegemony of neoliberalism, but in many ways
rehearsing key tenets of neoliberalism so as to make AdBusters a highly problematic political text, one made even more worrisome in that it smugly wears the mantle of radical resistance. Writers such as Bill Zuk and Robert Dalton (2003) and Joseph Rumbo (2000) suggest that despite AdBusters’ sometimes problematic politics, it represents a form of critical public pedagogy and organic public intellectual intervention against the hegemonic discourses of consumer society. But I am less optimistic than they about the potential results. In this article I outline how AdBusters’ public pedagogy is not simply inadequate to confront the cultural hegemony of neoliberalism, but in some ways complicit with it. Read More:

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One Response to brand wash redemption

  1. Ian Hays says:

    You might find Hays’ work interesting if you are keen on art and language via philosophy, literature, poetry but not much use to anyone interested in immediate gratification.

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