Thursday, November 16, 2000

Bran Flakes or Sugar Cereal? (by Petranella)

The information age is upon us. It is more an age of buzzwords related to information than a time of universal scholarship. The word "information" itself has lost some meaning through overuse. It is associated with both useless bits of commercial nonsense and the image of high-brow intellectual endeavors, apparently executed everyday in the great corporations of America. A litany of otherwise useful words are now nothing more than pseudo-intellectual neon lights in advertising for these same companies. "Different." "Information." "Solution." "Clarity." "Decision." "Yes! Yes! Yeeeeess! I love it when you talk business."

In the past, businesses were your friends. (Like a good neighbor, State Farm was there.) Now they are also the smart kid who knew all the answers in math. Rite Aid is not just a store, by the way. It’s a solution. To lipstick. This example is appropriate. Businesses present problems (You have the wrong color lipstick a ghastly Eternally Eucalyptus instead of that smashing Candy Apple Parade) with an urgency that necessitates immediate action on these cosmetic, superficial crises. You can solve your lipstick problem at Rite Aid because they are so clever, and so are you, dear buyer. One online business (I refuse to use the prefix "e-") claims: "It’s time for clarity." What does that mean? Hollow phrases are the hallmark of advertising campaigns. This is old news. What has cookware ever had in common with sex? Patience with the right ketchup? Intelligence with a small bean grown primarily in third world countries?? Does your marriage counselor recommend All-Clad cookware? Of course not.

This twentieth century advertising strategy of associating products with the ideals, values, and identities of consumers created a mythology around consumerism. Imagine the Mount Olympus associated with our need to give spiritual meaning to purchases. The god of Whimsy would be a Mentos package. This is beyond charlatanism. This is a package of product, hope, and a reflection of the buyer that we all get suckered into. We, as individuals in a consumer society, associate possessions with personality. Big business is there to aid this expression of personal ideals. Do you identify more with sugar cereal or bran flakes?

Sincerely sick of it all,


Petranella is an activist for the genocide of "Screen Beans".

No comments: