and now a word from our sponsors…

Is advertising destructive? Its an almost half-a-trillion dollar a year business. All for the sake of peddling goods and services. When you think about the societal allocation of resources; basically to reinforce and expand consumerism and establish rank and status among classes of merchandise; its a horrific waste of time and resources.And, thats not even considering the dumb messages almost all of them promote.Advertising finds itself in a central and critical role in the relationship between class, status, private property and social inequality. Its the necessary P.R. for Team Invidious Comparison on which consumerism is based, and will go to almost any extent to maintain this status quo, whether on a highbrow or lowbrow approach:

One of the most iconic campaigns ever was Apple’s “Think Different” series in the late 1990′s. It spun out a number of beautiful images. Yet, they were being used to sell pretty silly products, invariably using the images of dead people to shill for them. Its all the same, whether Gandhi is advocating personal computers or Charlie the Tuna is vaunting taste…

Read More: Rick Tilman:If he were alive, what would Veblen say about such? We can only speculate, of course, but what can logically be derived from his writing are warnings against consuming nature, invidious and wasteful consumption, and the continuation of an unsustainable consumer-oriented world. In a positive vein, he favored more austere lifestyles, other regardingness, civic mindedness, and conservation culture; in short, he was a harbinger of a voluntary simplicity movement.

Going back over a hundred years ago, Thorstein Veblen held that the two most prevalent options of political/economic development were fascism and technocracy.Veblen had a faith that intelligence could result in a better society,but, this faith in intelligence precluded an endorsement of democracy:

Veblen defines sabotage as the “conscientious withdraw of efficiency.” Veblen explicitly identifies in this definition sabotage on the part of the managers and owners of business. Businesspersons control their industries for the sake of the greatest obtainable profits, not the greatest efficiency of classical economics or the greatest social good. They achieve “this necessary control of the output of industry” by recourse to “something in the nature of sabotage—something in the way of retardation, restriction, withdrawal, unemployment of plant and workmen—whereby production is kept short of productive capacity.” What is known of scarcity and supply is employed by the businessperson to avoid flooding the market or to insure that a product has a certain prestige that produces more profits. Underproduction and waste are the result of the power of the businessperson to control production because of this class’s interest in profit. Communities organized on this principle thus become dependent on this system despite its imperfect production. Simply put, it is the only game in town. Veblen writes: [T]he common welfare in any community which is organized on the price system cannot be maintained without a salutary use of sabotage—that is to say, such habitual recourse to delay and obstruction of industry and such restriction of output as will maintain prices at a reasonably profitable level and so guard against business depression….

Read More: Tilman:It is important to note that Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) largely predated the development of the advertising industry whose primary genesis came in the 1920s, a decade noted for its ostentatious display and waste of status- enhancing goods. In fact, one of his chief accomplishments in that study was to anticipate the role of modern advertising by analyzing the-stlf-advertisement of the leisure class. He also came to believe that the massive expenditures on advertising and salesmanship indicated the view of marketers that consumers can be persuaded to buy goods and services that they do not need. The purchase of brand items that are heavily advertised and sold is thus a form of revealed preference for luxury goods. In keeping with these trends, the literature on consumption by marketing specialists, historians of advertising and salesmanship, literary critics, aestheticians, and social scientists has grown to massive proportions in recent years. Although economists still lag behind in their contributions to what can only be labeled a growth industry of impressive size, more social scientists than ever before are studying consumption. Much of this literature mentions Veblen on conspicuous consumption at least in passing.

Because the entire system relies on the motivation of profit, once profit falters, that is if the saboteurs stop their campaign of inefficiency, the system stops and all production falters.Read More: a

Who knows? Maybe it all began with the concept of ownership which began with the domination of women and extended to encompass physical objects. From the inception, ownership was always a system of rank, and desire was defined as some form of upward mobility.“Ownership began and grew into a human institution on grounds unrelated to the subsistence minimum. The dominant incentive was from the
outset the invidious distinction attaching to wealth” ( Veblen )

Read More: Cullers:Today's deep, patient sigh goes out to the California Milk Processor Board and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for their new "Got milk?" campaign positioning milk as a cure-all for the grab bag of unpleasantness known as PMS. They tried this once before, in 2005. The new campaign is called "Everything I Do Is Wrong," and with headlines like "We can BOTH blame myself" and "I apologize for letting you misinterpret what I was saying," it presents women as more uncontrollably irrational than ever before! The print ads send you to a Flash-heavy microsite (how quaint!) that tracks the global PMS level and helps men create apology videos with big-eyed flying kittens. Now, I know what you're thinking: This whiny bitch is being too sensitive. She's probably PMSing RIGHT NOW! Let's put my gender aside and consider this as a long-term marketing strategy for milk. The campaign probably will appeal to men, as sad as that makes me. But you know that poor, unknowingly sexist guy out there will inevitably offer milk to his significant other as a nice way to say, "I think your concerns are invalid and you're just bitching at me because your baby maker is about to blow." Even sadder, that same asshat will probably do it when she's not anywhere near her period.


It is important to remember, that for Veblen, these two options, fascism of business interests and technocracy, are the only live options we are presented with due to the conditions of the business system.  This is due to the fact that the habits of the population are too rigid to embrace anything but business control and that the vested interests of the state are also firmly on the side of business.  Furthermore, and demonstrating part of Veblen’s pessimistic vision, the chances of a “Soviet of Technicians” is very remote.  Although Veblen’s visions hav

t come to pass in such an extreme manner as he predicted in 1919, we ought be careful to heed some of his advice and criticism as we live through the days of Enron, Halliburton and record profits for oil companies. Read More: a

Read More: Ron English. BLF. ---Houpt:Junk food may be bad for kids, but it’s really good for the economy! Or so argues the Association of National Advertisers, a Washington, D.C.-based lobby group that is urging the White House to curb its enthusiasm for more restrictions on advertising many food and beverage products to kids. The so-called Sensible Food Policy Coalition, which is made up of advertisers, media sales organizations, and food and beverage manufacturers, says proposed restrictions could result in lower sales of about $30-billion (U.S.), and a loss of more than 74,000 jobs over the first year. Maybe the junk food industry should use a new slogan that leverages Americans’ patriotism? Something like: “Grow the economy – grow your waistline!”

“Sports is another crucial example of the indoctrination system . . . It offers people something to pay attention to that is of no importance . . . It keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have an idea of something about . . . People have the most exotic information and understanding about all sorts of arcane issues . . . It’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements, in fact its training in irrational jingoism . . . That’s why energy is devoted to supporting them . . . and advertisers are willing to pay for them.” Read More:

Noam Chomsky from Manufacturing Consent

---Houpt:Toshiba will ask viewers to send helpful clues to the protagonist via Twitter and Facebook, some of which will be incorporated into the film by appearing on her laptop. This week the company also kicked off an online casting call to find someone who will appear on the character’s laptop in a video cameo. There’s a palpable tension in both the Toshiba and VW projects between the continuing urge for control by the professionals – the brands themselves, their ad agencies, media planners, and production companies – and people who increasingly want to treat brands as pop culture artifacts, raw material to be played with and shaped in their never-ending quest to create something new. And that tension can be seen even in the advertising of the brands that position themselves as proponents of the democratizing wave....

Joseph Heath: …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. Sport is the most obvious example, but more controversially, Veblen also includes under this rubric religious observances, etiquette, esoteric learning (such as classical languages), aesthetic appreciation, “domestic music,” and a variety of other activities. Hence the perverse spectacle of the best (if not necessarily the brightest) applying themselves with boundless energy and selfless commitment, developing advanced competencies in activities that have absolutely no redeeming social value. The term “leisure class” is, in this respect, somewhat misleading, since members of this class often find their lives to be just as hectic and demanding as those of the laboring classes. This is why Veblen describes leisure, not as mere “indolence,” but as a “performance”. (For example, he observes that, “good breeding requires time, application and expense”.Read More:


Related Posts

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Marketing/Advertising/Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>