I’ve worked in the advertising industry. Let’s just say that selling products to people who can buy them or not buy them as they see fit is a much less violent battle than many of man’s other pursuits. We should keep this in mind and in perspective.
But there’s no doubt advertising can influence us. People who are adept at marketing have a real insider view of human nature. We are a cultural herd animal. And you can make billions if you can build a buzz for your product among the herd.
That was a very good article by McCullough. That’s brilliant writing as he makes the point that this is indeed Big Tobacco 2.0 as he clearly describes this new cycle and it’s near perfect symmetry with cigarettes.
But a culture that can’t see past its last Twitter post, and for whom satisfying every impulse is the raison d'être of life, it’s too much to ask people to use restraint informed by a larger perspective. Surely one definition of wisdom is not making the obvious mistakes of those who came just before you.
I’m guessing that you and I, Mr. Kung, do not go weak at the knees (or in the head) when we see some slick advertisement, even for a product that is something we might like. But today’s markets, unlike arguably those of yesterday, are not maintained by utilitarian concerns. We’re not talking about a farmer looking in the new Sears catalog who sees an electric butter churn that can produce five times the butter of hand crank ones.
If, as I suspect, that you and I (and some others here) do not collapse into a pile of compliant jelly when hit right between the eyes by the marketers, I suspect it is because (for whatever reason) we’re not caught tight in the loop of keeping up with the Joneses, and especially of ever trying to burnish one’s identity by having the latest and greatest cool status product.
More than ever, advertising is about moving the mindless heard who are already convinced that they must keep up with the Joneses. And to be so easily moved by marketers is not a badge one should be proud to wear. But one must be anchored in something deeper to reduce, if not entirely eliminate, the status factor. Are we in the end no more than a target audience and don’t know it? If libertarians, for instance, can’t see the truth of this article, they are lost in their ideology, status-chasing, if not also their fogged minds. Pot perhaps may or may not be legal by right, but the aspects of this that McCullough eludes to as Big Tobacco 2.0 are undeniable.