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COMM 287
Jennifer Mc Dermott

WHY STUDY ADVERTISING? 1. The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an “immense collection of commodities”. (Karl Marx, Capital ) 2. In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation. (Guy DeBord, The Society of the Spectacle) THE DIAMOND LIFE 3. What was necessary was the creation of a mass mentality in which women would perceive diamonds, not as precious stones that could be bought and sold according to economic conditions or fashion, but as an inseparable part of courtship and married life. (Edward Epstein) 4. Motion pictures seldom include scenes showing the selection of or purchase of an engagement ring to a girl. It would be our plan to contact scenario writers and directors and arrange for such scenes in suitable productions. (N.W. Ayers memo) 5. Since 1939 an entirely new generation of young people has grown to marriageable age. To this new generation, a diamond ring is considered a necessity for engagement to virtually everyone. (N.W. Ayers memo) 6. Over the course of the 20th century in industrial societies, national consumer product advertising has become one of the great vehicles of social communication. Regarded singly and superficially, advertisements promote goods and services. Looked at in depth and as a whole, the ways in which messages are presented in advertising reaches deeply into our most serious concerns: interpersonal and family relations, the sense of happiness and contentment, sex roles and stereotyping, the uses of affluence, the fading away of older cultural traditions, influences on younger generations, the role of business in society, persuasion and personal autonomy, and many others. (Leiss et al) CRITICISMS OF ADVERTISING 7. Consumer wants can have bizarre, frivolous or even immoral origins and an admirable case can still be made for a society that seeks to satisfy them. But the case cannot stand if it is the process of satisfying wants that creates the wants. For then the individual who urges the importance of production to satisfy these wants is precisely in the position of the onlooker who applauds the efforts of the squirrel to keep abreast of the wheel that is propelled by his own efforts. (Galbraith) 8. Such social production of consumers represented a shift in social and political priorities which has since characterized much of the life of American industrial capitalism. The functional goal of national advertising was the creation of desires and habits. In tune with the need for mass distribution that accompanied the development of mass production capabilities, advertising was trying to produce in readers needs which would dependently fluctuate with the expanding marketplace. (Ewen)
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