Monday, March 20, 2006

Marketing and Advertising in Corporate America

Americans have a problem with placing, read displacing, blame and taking responsibility for their actions, behavior, and especially bad habits. Contemporary marketing has observed this and zeroed in on it. Big business marketing serves to perpetuate these habits of shifting responsibility by reinforcing them. To sell you their product of convenience they tell you it’s ok to be lazy, it doesn’t matter that their highly packaged / highly disposable product is filling up landfills and adding to the problems of our already stressed society. They say it’s not your fault, you can’t control the situation, it’s someone else’s doing. You aren’t’ the one to blame for your attitude, your habits, or your lifestyle anyway, you should just buy their products to make your life easier. You should buy and use them despite the fact that they serve to continue or even further your poor habits and sedentary lifestyle.

These companies take no responsibility for the condition or quality of life their products produce, create, or support. They take no responsibility for encouraging negative and possibly detrimental morals, behaviors, and other aspects of our society. It’s a bottom line game, profit at all cost, ALL cost. They have no interest what-so-ever in what happens once their product has been sold. Companies universally claim they have no responsibility for what their products do to you or you do with their products once you have purchased them. They claim to have no accountability for the products they produce and sell to us no matter the circumstance, loss, expense, damage, injury, impairment, or condition the product causes. Further, they have no liability for the process which they use to manufacture these products. Whichever process is the cheapest. In order, of course, to keep profits as high as possible. The cheapest materials, cheapest labor, cheapest process, but highest retail possible. This approach to profit at all cost is entirely void of any ethic, moral, principal, or civic duty.

Rest assured; they will use any and all techniques possible to get you to buy their products. It’s simply a study in psychology. Left to your logic and good sense, you wouldn’t buy nearly any of their products. They have to appeal to the deeper emotions of the human condition and they start from a very early age. It’s said that brand loyalty can begin as early as the age of two years old. They certainly try to start marketing to us at these early ages. Cereal, candy, toys, soda, fast food, the list goes on and on. Morning cartoon commercials, happy meals with toys, fast food restaurants with playgrounds, fun and cute mascots, sugary cereals on the bottom shelf at the supermarket (kids’ eye level), toys in the cereal box and games on them, and so on and on and on. And for all of these products, we each have a favorite. Irrational as it is we find some emotional connection with one brand or another of a certain product and only, or usually, buy that brand. Most of the American population would be hard pressed to recognize any but a very few of the leaders of our cities, states, and country but even small children widely recognize and can name the trademarks of product brands. These “love marks” are easy to pick out, here are just a few examples:

Companies like these play to your emotions. They say; ”It’s impossible to do or accomplish what you should/need to, so why even try? Buy our product, it will make your life more easy and convenient.” They also play off of your guilt and your “should” feelings. For example, to be healthy you “should” eat enough vegetables and you “should” get enough fiber. One ad tells you that to get enough fiber you’d have to eat vegetables “all day long” and who could do that, right? Why not just take these chewable pills, it’s much easier and more convenient. They establish an emotional connection with you, the audience, by appealing to your apprehensions concerning your guilt and these “should” feelings. Making you feel validated in your doubts, and ultimately failure, in meeting the expectations of those ideals.

The negative repercussions of social issues such as; energy consumption, waste production, health issues due in part to sedentary lifestyles, misplaced morals, ethics, and principals, corporate conglomerates monopolizing whole business markets, and an ever increasing gap between social and financial classes are ignored and exploited by marketing strategies. The strategies of the very conglomerates who are a very large part of the problem.

The next time you’re watching TV, pay attention to the commercials and be mindful of the emotional manipulations these companies are trying to use against us. They are trying to use our own feelings against us. How gullible do they think we are? Most commercials are an appalling insult to our intelligence. How ignorant do they think we are? They don’t think we can see through their charade? What do they expect to happen? Are we supposed to say; “Oh look at all those beautiful girls. I’m going to drink that type of beer so I can have a bunch of beautiful girls too.” Well, I guess that’s must be just what we do because that’s about the only ploy the beer brands use and it seems to be successful, according to the drunk driving statistics. But I digress.

The point here is that I pose that it’s time for reform in the marketing and advertising industry. Ad agencies need to be accountable for the propaganda they create. Now, while this will help some it’s truly only treating the symptom. We need to get to the root cause of this problem, and that is held deep in the heart of Corporate America. To do that we have to show an example of the moral fiber and character on which this country was built. We need to stand up as a people and tell these big business conglomerates that we will no longer abide their indifference and lack of moral obligation. We have to show them that they are responsible for the products they produce and peddle. Both before and after they are sold. Some, I suppose, would say boycotts are in order and perhaps that would be effective. I warn, however, that if one were to abstain from all that touches evil or wrong doings, he soon would be naked and starving. You must choose your battles. Be cognizant in your daily routine and find the single largest injustice which touches your life. Then act rightly to impart your ideals, morals, and ethics to that single cause. If every American chose one single cause and made a genuine effort to begin building an inroad into the solution of that cause, we soon would see some level of reform at the root of those causes- big business. I leave you, then, with this challenge. As I,so, challenge myself.


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