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Marketing is the root of all evil. - Phil's Rambling Rants
July 15th, 2010
12:39 pm

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Marketing is the root of all evil.
autographedcat pointed to a post by xiphias about an ad campaign.  I wanted to record my comment in my own journal where I might find it again.

I don't watch TV -- mostly because of the ads -- but I saw one of these when I went to the movie theater.

My reaction was that the real message was for men, and it was the usual -- "You aren't worth anything as yourself. Your only hope to get a mate is to hide yourself in the image of this unattainable sex symbol, and look, we're selling a product that will do it! Just give us your money and you can paper over your inadequacy!" Yes, they're superficially addressing women, telling them their men are unattractive but this product can transmogrify them. I suppose it's a better message to women to tell them they have the power to choose to transmogrify their men rather than to just use the women as props to demonstrate the transmogrifying effect. I suppose it's better, if some guy walking by kicks me in the nuts, if he doesn't also spit on the woman standing nearby.

To riff on this further, I'm not quite sure if I have a different perspective on advertising because I deliberately avoid as much of it as I can and that somewhat insulates me from creeping brain rot, or if I inherently see things differently and I would still feel the same way if I watched TV like normal people.  Any time I look at professionally produced advertising, I see emotional manipulation.  All sorts of cues designed to reach past the veneer of rationality, to subtly engage our human needs and fears, to whisper to the shivering monkey inside that safety, self-worth, and sexual fulfillment come from the wonderful, magical product on offer.

Choosing one brand of beer, or car dealership, or hamburger stand instead of the next one will not get you laid.  The young woman with thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic surgery strikes that seductive pose for the camera is not going to have sex with you even if you buy the product, and the promise that she will, that your inner monkey hears and understands perfectly, is a LIE, deliberate and with malice aforethought.  It hurts you when you waste your limited money on stuff you don't need.  It hurts you when it pushes you to choose things you know are bad for you.  And it hurts you when it makes your inner monkey start thinking that you can have a partner like that so you shouldn't be settling for the real human beings in your life that you might have a chance with.  Doesn't it make you angry that they're doing that to you?  Do you not see that it's happening?  Do you tell yourself that you're smart enough not to fall for it, so it's just harmless fun to tease the monkey?  Let me tell you a secret -- for almost all of us, almost all the time, the monkey is in charge; never mind that makes us feel good to believe that our rational selves run the show.  Even if you, yourself, really make choices based on facts and logic, do you believe that most of the other people around you do?

Discuss.  Really, I'd like to hear what real people I know see in the way ads are made and work.

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From:shockwave77598
Date:July 15th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
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I'm an oddball in that so much advertisement has filled every free space of our free world, that I've learned to ignore most of it. I understand the need to advertise SOME! What I don't understand is the need to put ads on toilets, the backs of cars, in the clouds, everywhere. Beyond a certain level, it's wasting your money because people just tune them out. If you want my attention, have adverts in the Google search engine because that's where I first go when I need to find something. But covering every surface of the globe with ads for products I don't need, don't want, could never use, just makes me ignore them entirely. Doesn't mean I like them because I prefer a noise-free world. But I learned eventually to push out the noise.
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From:tigertoy
Date:July 15th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
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I do my best to tune out ads, but I know I'm still affected somewhat despite my efforts. When I shop, I find that I have opinions about products that I've never used or heard any objective evaluation of. I think most people would say that they mostly ignore the ads that flood the environment, but I also think corporations wouldn't be buying them if they didn't think they were working.
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From:queza7
Date:July 15th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
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The difference between marketing and manipulation is the moral code behind it. As a PR/Marketing major, I have very firm opinions about this - and I do agree, a lot of advertising is just plain manipulation. However, even though there are manipulators out there, a lot of marketing is justified, at least in principle. For example, if I'm hosting an event and 50% of the proceeds will be donated to charity, how am I going to get the word out if I don't market it? Or, say a company uses eco-friendly products instead of damaging products, and wants people to choose their company over another - do they only tell the people who walk in the door, or do they advertise it so that people know they have an eco-friendly option in town?

And yes, I know these are very specific cases, but they bleed over into pretty much any product, service, event, or other thing that can be advertised if something in the item being advertised will improve someone's quality of life. A new variety of deodorant may not go towards getting you the girl, but it may make you smell better and at least not push her away if the stuff you were using before didn't work.

I'll shut up now. :)
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From:tigertoy
Date:July 15th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
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Making information that is honest, both in objective claims and in emotional cues and implications, available so that people who are looking for a product can locate the one that suits them best is useful and positive.

Aggressively pushing a message out to reach people who weren't looking for it is more iffy. If the message is genuine, it has some value, especially in a case of a special event that people who would have wanted to go would miss without the message.

Lies -- messages that are intentionally less than honest in any way, in what they state with words, in what they hint at with emotional cues, in what they mean for the viewer to infer even though they won't say it -- are always bad.
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From:queza7
Date:July 15th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
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Perfect summation of my philosophy. :)
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From:catsittingstill
Date:July 15th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
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I have been thinking about this a little because of my work with the League of Women Voters.

We put on Candidates' Forums for people to get to hear what the competing candidates have to say. But if people don't know about the Forums it's wasted effort.

I don't want to get people to choose things that are bad for them. But I may need to have advertising all the same.

Yet I hate advertising.
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