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Communication, Culture and Technology
Neil Narine

9/17/2012 9:18:00 AM - The first documented "nationwide" campaign was for shoe polish in England in the 1820s - But socio-historical factors made advertising a feature of everyday life over 2 centuries The Birth of Advertising: The Industrial Revolution and Mass Production Industrial revolution, 1760-1850 Before the Revolution, land was the primary source of wealth Industrialization brought major changes People moved into cities to work in factories The system of "mass production" came into being Mass Consumption Required mass consumption Mass production needed a "mass" of consumers ready to buy the products and sustain the system (selling only to the rich would not work) This was a form of "mass democratization"" nearly everyone could consume 1850s-1900 Migration and Displacement: Loss of direction connection to land, work, trade Homogenization of workers: all do similar tasks Crisis of uniqueness, individuality Crisis of meaning - of work and of larger picture Mass production Workers divorced from their self-sustenance People need to be convinced of new meaning of life Ads promise to re-connect us to farmers, community, our food… Ads are a way of making things manful to us We are no longer connected to the land We no longer know the shopkeeper's name But we recognize Uncle Ben and the Green Giant Ads in Industrial Society In north America, we live n a post-industrial Society Although lots of heavy industry remains Strasser says… Modern consumer society, based on mass consumption, is not a natural state of affairs Rather, it is historically contingent Based on inherited values Strasser: Strasser, a historian, claims Advertising reflects and influences what we value: Ads suggest that we value: "abundances of choices" "convenience" "newness itself" But Ads promise much more… What does advertising really promise from "the world of things"? Happiness, success, friendship, belonging and… magic? "Advertising and the End of the world" Advertising cannot think long term "The advertised life is an emerging mode of being in which advertising not only occupies every last negotiable public terrain, but penetrates the cognitive process, invading consciousness to such a point that one expects and looks for advertising, learns to lead life as an ad, to think like an advertiser" (128-129). Vanderbilt In contemporary consumer cultures, are our very lives are inseparable from advertising? We live "the advertised life" 9/17/2012 9:18:00 AM The Big picture Ads in Communication  Why are ads so important? o There is a financial economy  There are big players in this economy with financial stakes o There is also a symbolic economy  This is the marketplace of images and representations  Powerful companies control the symbolic economy, meaning they can also shape opinions, create stereotypes  The Ad & the Ego o This belief that people have that they‟re beneath it; not influenced by the advertisement o Because it‟s pervasive, it‟s taken for granted o Teaches happiness can bought o Most advertisements used to be informational o Subtext: you‟re not okay the way you are o Creates discontent in consumers with the way they are  Symbolic Economy o There is a competition to control the visual environment o There is a competition for our attention  Example: Where do your eyes rest? o If advertisers succeed, our eyes will rest on ads  “Race” in the Symbolic Economy o Kim Sheehan‟s “The Melting Pot?” o While the logic behind capitalism promotes an opening up of the economy of signs [ie, more diversity], it still is immersed in a social context of classism and racism o The ones who control the means of production heavily regulate the exchange of signs within a symbolic economy that‟s rigged in their favor  Diversity of population = new strategies for advertisers o Largest growth rates in the US o Minorities represent the majority of the population base in both Miami and Los Angeles, and more than 60% of the population in both cities is composed of Hispanic Americans, African Americans and Asian Americans o Geography of different minority groups is important to advertisers  The Melting Pot o The Melting Pot as a metaphor means…? o Canada‟s metaphor is…? o What are the key differences?  “The Melting pot?” o When ethnic/cultural groups spend their money.. advertisers take notice o Minority “spending power” is growing as incomes grow o But there are big differences between groups for spending on cosmetics, jewelry, children‟s clothing, fast food, cars  The data suggest… o Black consumers and latinos watch more TV and listen to the radio more often than the average across the US population o Black consumers more loyal in their consumerism (to car brands etc) and Asian consumers value status of purchases, brands – “conspicuous consumption”  Nonetheless… o Most advertisements are not well targeted, but “mainstream” and use white or ambiguous actors o -1.3% of advertising money spent on targeting minority groups, even though these groups represent a larger portion of the national income  “Representation” in Ads o Whites appear in the major role 80-90% of the time  “Mainstream” Ads o The power to fix signification (to run the symbolic economy) lies with the dominant group o The dominant group supposedly rep. a “positive universal” o Therefore.. o White people can sell anything to anybody  But “Cultural Difference” Sells o Black people hae been made icons to sell to white consumers…  Why Aunt Jemima? o Why these faces  Mammy = a domestic worker/housekeeper (Aunt Jemima)  Uncle Ben = domestic worker/cook  Both were comforting/nurturing figures to wealthy US consumers in 1860s-1960s  More recently, there are more “self conscious” ads o Blackness = “coolness” in many ads (and pop culture) o Stereotypes remain amid more positive representations  9/17/2012 9:18:00 AM Lecture 3 The Budweiser Campaign Thesis: Racism now operates in subtle ways (Watts and Orbe)  Advertising and „Mass culture‟ “perpetuate the idea that there is pleasure to be found in the acknowledgement and enjoyment of racial difference” (hooks, 343) Watts and Orbe: “Whassup!”  Traditional White Supremacy is out  The “real fun” in mainstream pop culture is now found in “contact with the other.”  The Budweiser Whassup Campaign: o “Authenticity” is not represented o Rather, “black” speech is made mains
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