JUST BUY THIS PRODUCT: ADVERTISING IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Advertisers and marketers know exactly how to fidget with our emotions. The marketing industry has seen some changes in the past decade or so, but the modus operandi remains the same- your life is incomplete until you buy this product.

This message can be delivered in many ways, but it mostly consists of demeaning the average life, where one does not have the luxuries of fame, wealth, or the ideal body weight. We are subliminally chastised, and run down for not inherently living up to these standards, before being offered the solution, which just incidentally happens to be their product. “Buy these slimming tablets, and you’ll be thin, and therefore happy! Look at how miserable that woman was BEFORE, that’s how you look. Look at her AFTER -she’s smiling! You can smile, too. Just buy this product!”

All too often, it is the mainstream media which has contributed to our lack of self-esteem, and fleeting amounts of happiness. It is as if our happiness will be found in a store, within a particular product. Which, as we have all found out, isn’t exactly true.

As the writer of a blog that is lucky to get even 5 pageviews -never mind a thousand- I found myself clicking on articles that demonstrate to one how to create viral content. These articles catered to my very human need; my need to be known, and adored. And I caved in. While I did find valuable information which I shall apply (the ‘striking visuals’ tip particularly hit the spot for me, an aspiring photographer), there were some tips which I feel would negate, and disregard, the message of my writing.

I think there is a time, and a place, for instant gratification. Changing your life should not be one of those times. Our brains are so starved for knowledge, for true thought. And it is as if we perpetuate more of this mindless entertainment and brainwashing that advertisements bring, at the expense of concrete and actual analysis beyond ‘this is nice’.

The irony of the final paragraph is noted. Yet, I do not intend to insult the human race as much as I’d like to make sense of it. And what the world needs is more thought. On the Internet, in schools, at home, in our music….everywhere. Instead of conforming to a set standard, we should be setting a new one- one that will positively impact humankind. Paraphrasing Neale Donald Walsch, ‘every problem is spiritual’.

It is not my intention to bury the entire concept of marketing. We all need washing detergent, and clothes that won’t tear or fade in color after the first wash (forgive me, I’m next to the laundry basket, as I write this). Advertising is a great tool for us to be informed of the different brands out there. The great flaw of advertising comes when it disparages people who buy no-name washing powder, or those who do not wear designer label clothing. Similarly, there is a problem when we don’t make space for our long-form essays, and our gripping documentaries, and our classical music. We are missing out on a wealth of knowledge, and we do so to maintain an image that has been dictated to us.

I don’t think memes, the newest weight loss program, and selfies are the best that the modern world has to offer. We can expand our minds; we can learn to not only consume, but create. Let’s think broader. This does not necessarily spell the end for memes, weight loss programs, and selfies. It could mean the expansion of viewpoints. Imagine meme analysis. Imagine debates on effective weight loss programs. Imagine the deconstruction of selfies.

Learning can be exciting, engaging, and fun. We can make corporations offer more than catchy tunes and persuasive language. They’d be forced to bring about at least a modicum of thought. And eminently, that is the product that I sell to you- a modicum of thought, spread throughout the realms of humanity.

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