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Lecture 5: Age of Persuasion II: Brand You and other Critical Issues in Promotional Culture

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Communication Studies
COMM 1101
Chris Russill

Lecture 5: Brand You and Other Critical Issues in Promotional Culture What is a Consumer Society?  Buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff  Being materialistic  Highly dependent on consumer spending power  Capitalism  Following trends set by advertisers Consumer Society  Capitalism o Product of and depends on capitalism o Depends on production and consumption of large amounts of goods o It’s not just about that, but the production and consumption of goods in great excess of what we need to live o Society where our basic needs have already been met; we have food, clothing, and shelter already o Production and consumption of goods happens in order to make a PROFIT o In a system around profit, we need continuous production and consumption of goods in order for system to function o New needs and new ways of making us want things need to be created; if we were satisfied and didn’t consume things we thought we needed, capitalism wouldn’t exist  Choice o Choose among different goods: essential to capitalism o Rather than producing one kind of juice, toothpaste, etc. companies produce several and compete o Expand possibilities for profit o Choice defines who we are o In advertising choice is important; it determines our happiness, freedom, sense of individuality, and the functioning of society o Renewal of product qualities o Quaker Oats: product of nostalgia  Time (Speed, Emphemerality) o Planned obsolescence: products designed to fail, go out of style, break, or outmoded by a newer, better version o For example, the industry of fashion; as fashion changes, you feel the need to exchange what you have for something new; constant production and consumption o Laptops will eventually become obsolete, even if they outdate their warranty, because you can’t download applications and software o Paradox of consumer society: choice is a structuring element of consumer society, yet so often we don’t have a choice; can’t opt out of using the latest operating system if you can’t use the old one to do your work  Creating demand o Old products sold with a new ad campaign, new design, etc. o Because capitalism depends on production, it needs production of desire  Discretionary Income, Leisure Time o Spend money on things you don’t need, but want for various reasons (style, status, etc.)  Mobility o Ability to travel at our leisure, better than before o Ability for goods to travel across long distances (including media images) o Rural > urban; urban places got new forms of transit to accommodate people moving to cities o As places filled with mobile crowds, city streets became forms for advertising o Space can become a medium of consumption, e.g. roads, highways, elevators, subway stations, planes, etc. o World of consumerism is tied to mobility of people in their daily lives, not just in the space of consumption, but also the things we are shown as things we “need” o Growing social and physical distance between where goods are manufactured and where they’re used; production/value chains (tags on clothes) o We assume that goods come from all over the place, but we don’t think about the implications or consequences; we don’t think of it at all o Erasing the work that goes into making the goods and services o Production line in China where they make iPhones, work 12 hours a day, six days a week; terrible working conditions, living conditions on site o None of this information is contained in our product; so focused on consuming that we divorce ourselves from every other aspects of the product, like ethical con
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