From a book I just read, in a chapter on advertising:

“The spectator-buyer is meant to envy herself as she will become if she buys the product. She is meant to imagine herself transformed by the product into an object of envy for others, and envy which will then justify her loving herself. One could put this another way: the publicity image steals her love of herself as she is, and offers it back to her for the price of the product.


“Publicity has another important social function. The fact that this function has not been planned as a purpose by those who make and use publicity in no way lessens its significance. Publicity turns consumption into a substitute for democracy. The choice of what one eats (or wears or drives) takes the place of significant political choice. Publicity helps to mask and compensate for all that is undemocratic within society. And it also masks what is happening in the rest of the world.”


5 thoughts on “Buybuybuy

  1. Elsa February 20, 2009 / 6:29 pm

    Yeesh, how creepy and also how true.

    There’s a brighter side to this, though. A former sociology prof of mine spoke frequently about “the potential self”: the self who would use the SoloFlex for exercise instead of a towel rack, or who writes long thoughtful letters to keep in touch with friends, or who learns Italian in her spare time.

    I often think of my potential self, and try to become her. She’s a long way off, but I can see her there on the horizon.


  2. J February 24, 2009 / 10:24 pm

    I like Elsa’s brighter outlook on this potential self. The pressure many people feel to constantly improve, however, and the ways in which they seek a magic bullet to expedite that change, is frustrating. And expensive!


  3. simonlitton March 2, 2009 / 11:06 am

    “Potential self” – good point, although for me most of the things I could do to improve myself wouldn’t require buying anything.


  4. Elsa March 5, 2009 / 12:40 am

    Excellent point, Simon, and of course I omitted to mention: that’s where the prof was going with this. She was pointing out how easily advertisers manipulate our desire to tap our self-defined potential selves.

    The promise of advertising is, essentially, that buying the SoloFlex = becoming fitter, while neglecting to mention that discipline is far more crucial than equipment, and regrettably cannot be ordered from QVC.


  5. AMcLn March 30, 2009 / 11:04 pm

    to improve myself wouldn’t require buying anything.

    Good points! I can’t tell you how good it feels to not work in advertising anymore. I quit 5 yrs ago after a 10 yr career. I miss the paycheck, but that’s all.

    (moss rules)


Your opinion is important to us

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s