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Forum nameOkay Activist Archives
Topic subjectRE: Consumer is king?
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=22&topic_id=32999&mesg_id=33017
33017, RE: Consumer is king?
Posted by Nettrice, Wed Jun-01-05 08:15 AM
>There is no more doubt that advertisement has changed our
>daily landscape. Everywhere we look and read, we get saturated
>with ads competing for attention, sometimes on different
>mediums. That much is obvious. Where there is disagreement is
>on how good it is.

Well films such as Super Size Me make it all too clear how ads are usually not pro-consumer. The campaign to make people consume more often has disastrous results and food is just one of several products that are pushed via ads. It usually has less to do with what a consumer wants and more to do with the product...often (not always) based on corporate interests.

For example, take the United Fruit Co. Prior to 1870, bananas were unknown in the United States. The first bananas were imported to the U.S. in 1870 and just 28 years later, Americans in the U.S. were consuming over 16 million bunches a year. If you take a look at the ads of the time, several print ads were placed all over the U.S. persuading Americans to eat bananas. There is no disputing the health benefits of eating bananas but it was not consumer demand that drove Minor Keith to construct a railroad in Costa Rica in 1871. His project cost hundreds of lives, including the lives of his family. Keith was a guy who would do anything to advance his own interests. While Keith was building the railroad in Costa Rica he was also executing a much bigger plan. As construction progressed, he planted bananas on the land easements to either side of the tracks. The bananas flourished and with the railroad completed it was possible to economically transport the bananas to eager markets in the United States and Europe.

This same scenario applies to tobacco and later food, including fast food, junk food. PR people took some of the same methods used during the 1870s to push bananas on the public, not because they were good for them but because an entreprenuer wanted to do business in South America. For more info check out: http://www.mayaparadise.com/ufc1e.htm

Edward Bernays was at the forefront of this kind of marketing:

"Bernays liked to cultivate an image as a supporter of feminism and other liberating ideas, but his work on behalf of the United Fruit Company had consequences just as evil and terrifying as if he'd worked directly for the Nazis. The Father of Spin sheds new and important light on the extent to which the Bernays' propaganda campaign for the United Fruit Company (today's United Brands) led directly to the CIA's overthrow of the elected government of Guatemala.

The term "banana republic" actually originated in reference to United Fruit's domination of corrupt governments in Guatemala and other Central American countries. The company brutally exploited virtual slave labor in order to produce cheap bananas for the lucrative U.S. market. When a mildly reformist Guatemala government attempted to reign in the company's power, Bernays whipped up media and political sentiment against it in the commie-crazed 1950s." - from http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1999Q2/bernays.html

So we go from eating bananas to anti-communism. We can see, in the case, how PR was used not only to persuade consumers to eat bananas but also to support the building of an empire and this idea spread. Many (not all) of the larger corporations that exist today were inspired by the guys who built the UFCO empire. Beginning at around the turn of the century, Americans saw the rise of the mass media and "its role in creating a "virtual public" which was "defined increasingly by its vulnerable condition of isolation and spectatorship. Readers of mass-circulation newspapers and magazines were witnesses to society, no longer within the public square, but from the sanctuary of their parlors." These "webs of communications" became "modern pipelines of persuasion," exploited first by Progressive reformers, then by corporate and government propagandists with the goal of managing an increasingly restive public." - from PR!

>The proper question, I propose, should not be "should we let
>ads continue to control us ?", but rather "what makes people
>suggestible, and some not ?". I would say that this is in no
>small part due to one's epistemic beliefs. Someone who accepts
>readily the beliefs of the people and the media surrounding
>him, will be more likely to "buy" into marketing rhetoric.
>Someone who is more rational would be more likely to see
>advertising information thru a more objective light.

So what is the education or environs that promotes such rational thinking?

>Ads exist because they profit, and they profit because people
>buy their premises. Yet they do not provide much information,
>but rather concentrate on the superficial. Why this situation
>exists is a psychological and memetic question, not a social

But it really is a social issue.