Sunday, March 9, 2008

"Advertising . . . creates needs rather than fulfilling them

Douglas Rushkoff talks about the arguably most prominent function of commercials: fueling consumer need. Advertisements brand themselves and try to "differentiate" themselves from other brands and products to try to appeal to a consumer's sense of "identity," offering convenience, functionality, and overall enjoyment. Situations are created in ad media that demand solutions, which conveniently are provided by the very people who conceived, and possibly fabricated, the problem.
We sit in front of televisions, listen to the radio, and now more than ever we can ignore advertisements - shrug them off and change the channel. The choices for entertainment and information gathering as so vast the attention span of the modern media consumer is brief. Powerfully "coercive" advertising, almost an annoying bombardment, is a necessary tactic these days. Rushkoff preaches of a television patron must be skilled; must know what to look for in advertisements. Ad campaigns and marketing reach new and more abstract heights as we see car insurance peddled by cartoons and visages of our extinct brethren. Ad campaigns, with there every growing arsenal of mediums to tap the consumer on the shoulder, appeal (in some cases) to an indirect set of feelings and interests that the consumer has. What justifies an old man dancing around coercing viewers of going to an amusement park, as Six Flags did recently? In using humor and upbeat music Six Flags wants YOU, the consumer, to find this appealling or at least share in his joy. More confusingly why have people singing in a Mary Poppins-esque way to promote anti-smoking? Imagery and sly deviations in commercial messages are a reality today. Whether it be the internet, television, radio, or print we are subject to more advertising than ever. It is an onslaught of sorts.

1 comment:

Lance Strate said...

Fair enough, but what are the specific challenges posed by online communications?