Advertising dominates our world as a way to control the public mind using mass media to persuade entire
populations to think and behave in specific ways. You could argue that the
knowledge and skills used by good advertising agencies are the same tools of
used by political propagandists. In the best case, advertising is more
benevolent, designed to entertain, inform and motivate you to purchase a
product. In an even better case, the skills of advertising can be used to
persuade citizens to behave in a more constructive manner, improve their heath
and to treat others with more kindness and concern. In the worse case,
advertising is intrusive, dishonest and devious. In any case, good advertising
works to sell products, just as skillful propaganda can turn lies into public
policy. Since most citizens of affluent countries are tuned into multimedia
every day, advertising and propaganda are pervasive influences determining their
beliefs and behavior.
Marketing consultant Jerry Bader stated:" Great advertising isn't real, it's
hyper-real: hyperrealism is a communication approach that generates desire and
motivates action by presenting a stylized version of reality through a focused
perspective. Reality is messy and confused; hyper-reality is concentrated and
clear, and when it comes to marketing messages, concentrated and clear is the
Bader described the human tendency to copy what others are doing and saying.
He compared copying to cloning in US marketing practice. He stated:" somebody
makes a profitable movie about vampires, and the next thing you know we're all
inundated with movies, television shows, books, blogs, websites, and every form
of blood-sucking permutation you can imagine." Every successful product, brand
or advertising message is copying many times. Bader suggested:" Most of the
copycats fail because the clone-masters behind them don't understand why the
original worked, and as a consequence, they clone all the wrong elements. Clone
marketing is just rote copying of technical elements without any reference to
why the original worked, whereas Slipstream marketing takes a familiar idea and
plays off it like a great jazz musician reinterprets an old standard.
"An example was Kimberly Clark's success at branding a commodity, facial
tissue, as Kleenex. They recognized the need to transform their commodity
product into something of higher value by showing an emotional connection
between the product and the consumer. Their Let It Out video commercials
featured an interviewer who asked people to sit down on a couch in the middle of
a busy street to describe a meaningful moment in their lives. People cried, and
people laughed, until tears came to their eyes, at which point, the interviewer
handed each person a Kleenex along with a memorable music message. Kleenex
became the most successful brand name and eventually became the generic name for
all facial tissues."
In an ideal world, commercial advertising would not exist. In Canada, a
Canadian broadcast corporation continued with advertising-free radio. As a child
I tuned into their programs and grew used to commercial-free CBC FM broadcasts
that featured classical music, jazz, radio plays and educational radio essays.
To this day, I have little tolerance for commercial radio or television
broadcasting. In an ideal world, marketing products and services would never
intrude on a citizen’s privacy and never be pushed by media without the consent
of the listener-viewer.