Thursday, 17 October 2013

Consumerism; Persuasion, Society, Brand, Culture

Persuasion, Society, Brand, Culture

  • The rise of US consumerism
  • Consumerism and our unconscious desires
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Edmund Bernays 
  • Consumerism as social control
Century of Self- Adam Curtis 2002
No Logo- Naomi Klien 1999

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

New theory of human nature
Hidden primitive sexual forces and animal instincts which need controlling
The Interpretation of Dreams (1899)
The Unconscious (1915)
The Ego and the ID (1923)
Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920)
Civilisation and its Discontents (1930)

Freuds model of personality structure

Civilisation and its Discontents (1930)
Fundamental tension between civilisation and the individual
Human instincts incompatible with the well being of community
The Pleasure Principle

Society imposes law and order to keep a harmonious world, and according to Freud this means humans will never be fully satisfied as they can't carry out these instinctual desires.
If we can act out these desires in a socially acceptable way we according to the pleasure principle become satisfied and content momentarily.
Basically civilisation will make us discontented 
The first world war was a testament to this theory- he wasn't happy with this and later on in life became more and more depressed that he was right.

WW1 (1914-18)

Post world war the west wins and develops it becomes quite an affluent place and civilisation seemingly returns to normal.

Edward Bernays (1891-1995)
Press Agent
Employed by public information during WW1
Post War- Set up 'The Concil on Public Relations'
Birth of PR 
Based upon the ideas of his uncle Sigmund Freud
And he applied this to big buisness in US

His theory was if you can link any of the repressed unconscious need to any product it will make the customer want it in order to satisfy their deep desires.

'Torches of Freedom' 
Easter Day Parade

It was taboo for women to smoke previously. This was bad for the cigarette companies as this was half if not more so of the people they could potentially sell to.
Debutans where paid to smoke during the parade, Bernays sent a story to the press saying that these women where almost like suffragettes, it was a political motive and they where rebelling against the fact they weren't allowed to smoke and they where almost going against men. They where 'torches of freedom' 
And so many women began to smoke as they felt it was empowering, and made them independent, also as they where rebelling it gave them a certain sort of content. 

He also pioneered...
Product Placement
Celebrity Endorsements 
The use of pseudoscientific reports

A system of mass marketing and cross marketing, making people believe that they will gain something they are missing from their instinct innate desires.

Henry Ford (1863- 1947)
Model T Ford
Transposes Taylorism to car factories of Detroit.
Taylorism- separating the jobs down, one person does not make the whole car.

The start of mass production and consumerism
  • Moving Assembly line
  • Standard production models built as they move through the factory
  • Suddenly a country gained loads of products and things
  • Increased productivity- Increased wages- Increased disposable income

(ford sale figures)

Companies start to make unique selling points for their products. USP's
A system of PR and marketing began

(Aunt Jemimas Pancake flour) 
Aunt Jemima - Brand Figure
Originally it wasn't selling and was unpopular. 
So they began focus groups, and many housewives said they weren't buying it as the felt guilty for using the pre-mix and it made them less of a good housewife.
And so they changed the recipe so you had to add an egg and this made the mix sell as people felt they had not completely cheated.

Men- in control
of their life, their women 
and this still stands today 
Ed Bernays made it so the car seemed to fulfil a mans instinctual sexual desire by taking control.

Society changes from needs for needs to a society of wants and desires.
I want a perfume as I want to be like the movie star, have the same qualities and fulfil desires.

If you don't propose a desire then people will keep wanting and so companies could never over produce. As people will now always want

The Hidden Persuaders- Vance Packard (1957)
  • Marketing hidden needs
  • Selling emotional security (e.g. fridge freezers reassure there is always food their and you have provided)
  • Selling ego-gratification
  • Trade on a sense of worth (particularly for housewives- feeling the need to impress, be the best e.c.t)
  • Selling creative outlets
  • Selling love objects
  • Selling a sense of power 
  • Selling immortality (constant anxieties of people- dying and just being gone e.g. life insurance- still influencing the family and still in control)
People where sold the idea that buying more things meant they where satisfying their needs/desires, in the back of the anarchy of WW1. An so society began to be more content and therefore complaint.

Walter Lippmann

A new elite is needed to manage the bewildered herd 
'manufacturing consent' - political propaganda that satisfying societies needs would keep the public 'herd' compliant.
And so the government asked for advice from big business and this was good for business as it meant they where encouraged to make more and more and therefore sell more and make more profit.

Russian Revolution 1917 - opressed workers, the poor, no disposbale income- unsatisfied.

October 24th, 1929
'Black Tuesday'

One of the biggest market crashes of the 20th Centuary, stocks / markets crashed (boom and bust)

and so The Great Depression began 

Roosevelt and the 'New Deal' (1933-36)
Consumerism is not the way to run a country 
Rather than a scheme of big business a scheme of government taking back control. 
Telling business that they can't just do what they want. 
Business was against Roosevelt as his proposal would mean less profits for them

Worlds Fair of 1940 in New York
Big propaganda for big business led by Edward Bernays
The Futurama- what the world could be like if people but their faith back in business according to business. Democracity Only be free if people start buying and spending again. Ignore politics and consume. 
This is not really freedom. 

East is controlled by a government
West is not 

But does this mean the west is free ? 
West is controlled by money and business, and affordability, and so we aren't really free. 

Is society based on the illusion of freedom and what underlies is consumption.

Consumerism is an Ideological project. 

Become docile, and makes you just accept as your 'desires' have been fulfilled by consumption. 

The Consumer Self 
The legacy of Bernays/ PR can be felt in all aspects if twenty first century.
The conflicts between alternative models of social organisation continue to this day.

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