Advertising has evolved along with social attitudes. What was acceptable in past decades is enough to spark serious health and human rights complaints in the modern world. Today’s advertisers can no longer depend on sweeping generalizations to reach target markets, nor can they risk potential implications of a racist or sexist nature. The infamous Dove campaign is a recent example of irresponsible marketing tactics, with a huge global backlash. One might wonder whether such a blatant disregard of morality could be anything other than deliberate, if only from the not so innocent perspective of testing the market for a response. An even more alarming possibility is whether the offending Dove campaign is somehow a corporate attempt to raise a buzz in a very saturated toiletries market, because “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
Don Watson’s 2005 book, “Death Sentences” goes the extra mile to deconstruct the overall effect of common sayings. Taking these principles to the next level – that being the in-home, interactive access advertisers have through televisions, computers, and smartphones – as consumers, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our children, to recognize what is actually happening. As though the propaganda machines known as news networks aren’t having enough of an influence on how we think, advertisers are reprogramming our thoughts to the point that they actually change our behaviour. Though this may not come as news to many, we are not doing ourselves any favours by idly standing by as we become puppets for their corporate profit model. Our personal and societal priorities are being redefined through careful manipulations which increase our desire for “keeping up with the Joneses”…resulting in the subsequent phenomenon of “jonesing”, a phrase through which we playfully ridicule ourselves and others in a certain acceptance of our conditioned impulsive behaviour. We have, apparently willingly, jumped onto the hedonic treadmill which turns on the wheels of the marketing industry.
On the one hand, the internet gives us the benefit of investigative reporting and access to original source information. On the other hand, our every move online is tracked because advertisers have the will and the means to study and rewrite our behaviour. Despite disclaimers and guarantees that your personal information will not be shared with third parties, it is easy to forget how multidimensional modern corporations have become. For example, anyone who views the Dove ad is tracked by the multi-billionaire parent company, Unilever, and becomes a marketing target for all brands under Unilever. These brands become privy to our information and do not have to respect any privacy conditions.
Avoid Free Apps
Cubase, a staple in the recording industry, insists “Pay for the software you use.” Following this advice is more to the consumer’s benefit that we may know. The danger of many free apps is evident in the realization that something pays for that App to exist. If it is not the consumer, then expect that users of that App have “I agree”d their entire privacy away, granting access to all devices associated with their login ID. CBC Marketplace has done a terrifying documentary episode on this topic, demonstrating how much access we sign away when consenting to a download. Another mass collection of personal data happens through the most common apps, particularly the flashlight apps. All the app should need to do is flick a switch to turn the light on or off. In binary or computer terms, that is changing from a zero to a one or a one to a zero. Consider the weight or size of an App before clicking “I agree”, because chances are, it is designed to do far more than what you, as the consumer, intended. Try this on for size: If you didn’t pay for it, you don’t own it; instead, it owns you.
Go ahead, try this at home
Online sellers offer different pricing to the same consumers under different browsing conditions. Sit down with a friend, colleague or family member, choose a product and start searching for it on all the devices in your respective possession, using regular browser settings. Try this again while surfing incognito, and notice how the prices tend to be higher on a laptop or desktop when your incognito searches block merchant sites’ access to cookies and browser history. Seriously.
Motivation is one of the most fascinating aspects of psychology. It directs behaviour and is a function of internal and external factors. Advertisers realize that subliminal messages – even more subtle than the eye can see – can have a powerful and enduring influence on our thought process and, consequently, our behaviour. They are also acutely aware of the neurological effect of the effectively hypnotizing frame rate used in film and in television production; they understand that the brain is defenceless toward suggestion while assembling a series of still frames as viewers focus on the content. On a scale coexistent with the availability of convenience foods, we find ourselves acting on feelings of hunger that were not present before we tuned into the tube in the first place.
Balancing Act: the unicycle becomes the bicycle
Multi-billionaire corporations have more than just food companies in bed with drug companies. Pharmaceutical giant Bayer announced its acquisition schedule of Monsanto in September 2016, and the implications are staggering. Since Monsanto represents the seed stock behind virtually all commercially produced foods, and has a proud tradition of seeking out and establishing genetic control over this seed stock, the modern world needs to wake up to the fact that drug companies like Bayer, as all businesses, are constantly seeking out new ways to create as many regular, long-term clients as possible, using any means available. The Bayer-Monsanto merger allows the parent company unlimited access to nearly all consumers on some level, starting with genetics which, for better or for worse, can be rewritten. GMO is a confusing technology, and superpowers like Monsanto have a vested interest in developing cross-contamination of neighbouring crops. Through the introduction of new strains of weeds and GMO crops to infiltrate and rewrite the very DNA of the soil – indeed the planet itself – and, consequently, its every inhabitant. The consequences could include retroviruses, chronic illnesses, and various forms of disability. Cannabis, meanwhile – which is food, medicine, building supplies, textiles etc., etc. – has remained illegal or at least regulated in most territories, and this may or may not be related to the fact that genetic strains have been developed and cultivated on the private. This means that Monsanto can not develop a stranglehold on this boon to natural health care. Tricycles ahoy!
A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
Considering who funds health care – including the World Health Organization, no matter where in the world we live, “an apple a day” becomes a literal dilemma. The poorer we are, the less choice we have in the foods we eat, and the more our drugs are provided by governments. A new chapter in eugenics is being penned, with the insurance policy underwritten by tax dollars obtained through our own carefully coerced spending habits.
By Carol Ann