Thursday 17 October 2013


Persuasion, Society, Brand, Culture

  • Analyse the rise of US consumerism
  • Discuss the links between consumerism and our unconscious desires
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Edmund Bernays 
  • Consumerism as social control
Documentary film called Century of Self by Adam Curtis
No Logo by Naomi Klien

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
  • New theory of human nature, it was a new way of understand it.
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Hidden primitive sexual forces and animal instincts which need controling
  • The interpretation of dreams (1899)
  • The Unconcious (1915)
  • The Ego and the Id (1923)
  • Beyond the Pleasse Principle (1920)
  • Civilisation and its Dicontents (1930)

Freuds model of personality structure

Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents
  • Fundamental tension between civilization and the individual.
  • Human instincts incompatible with the well being of community.
  • The Pleasure Principle. Saying that if our desires are allowed to be acted out, in a socially acceptable way, we become docile and happy after the act.
  • How society can deal with peoples needs without going too far, and breaking the law.
The first world war was a testament to his theory's. This is the nature of human beings, they are finding their releafs through different ways. The war was the oppitany of the world releasing

Edward Bernays (1891-1995)
  • Press Agent
  • Employed by public information during WW1
  • Post was - set up 'The Councial on Public Relations'
  • Birth of PR
  • Based on the ideas of Freud (his uncle)
  • Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923)
  • Propaganda (1928)
'Torches of Freedom'
Frowned upon for women to smoke, it was seen as taboo. He was employed by a tobacco company to do the propaganda. He paid these debutantes to walk down the street where the press were, they all started to light up their cigarettes, beautiful women were seen smoking, therefore women thought that it was be attractive to smoke, it was seen to be sexy and a symbol of power. He not onlt did this for companies but he also did it for celebrities. Product placement, Celebrity endorsements, The use of pseudo-scientific reports.

  • Henry Ford (1863-1947)
  • Transposes Taylorism to car factories of Detroit
  • Instead of making a car, you break that down into component parts, each person makes a small bit of a car, the process increases as it is quicker, this is creating a production lines.
  • Requires large investment, but increases productivity so much that relatively high wages can be paid, allowing the workers to buy the product they produce.

The Model T Ford

  • 1910 – 20,000 produced, $850 
  • 1916 – 600,000, $360
  • By 1927 – 15 million manufactured, $290
  • Assembly time reduced from 12.5 to 1.5 hours

  • Products are marketing themselves as something more special, using people like old ladies on their propaganda made it seem like it was unique and being made for you especially from this lady.
  • The start of a situation where businesses feel like they have to have a unique selling point to sell their product.
  • It showed you could be successful if what you are trying to sell, helped someone achieve their desires.
  • For people who couldn't cook this became a short cut.

  • Culture starts to shift from someone who needs, to a society based on desire. 
  • 'I want a perfume to be like the starts, not because I smell'
  • It brings a shift to society.
  • Based on very clever marketing and advertising, people don't think about things they just think they need things, but it purely based on desire.
Marketing hidden needs (1957)
  • Selling emotional security - fake sense of security whether you need it or not.
  • Selling reassurance of worth - marketing companies realised that this can be exploited
  • Selling ego-gratification
  • Selling creative objects
  • Selling love objects
  • Selling sense of power
  • Selling a sense of roots
  • Selling immorality
Advertisers and marketing companies started to use these techniques. It is the birth of a society that believes its free happy and successful, when actually, people are just given the illusion that they are happy.

Walter Lippmann (1920)
  • A new elite is needed to manage the bewildered herd.
  • 'Manufacturing consent'
  • Even though people were spending more money on useless things, they weren't actually gaining more power or status, they just start to believe that they are happier.
  • The more things people have, the happier they feel.
  • Started to advise governmental policy, to keep people docile and happy to stop the revolution spreading.
Russian Revolution (1917)
  • The working class over powered the elite
  • Communist revolution
  • A threat to capitalism
  • 'Peace, Land, Bread'
Oct 24 1929 'Black Tuesday'
  • Its in the counrties interest to allow capitalism to continue.
  • The largest stock crash on black tuesday, the bottom fell out of every industry.
  • This started the great depression for many years.
  • For the first time, politicians started to think about the ethics of marketing, it not a stable way to raise society.
Roosevelt and the 'New Deal' (1933-1936)
Introduced benefits
Still about governmental control of society
Very unpopular for big businesses because it would limit their profit margins.

  • Giant exhibition with building made for it, large, and all about what is great for American companies
  • 'We are now approaching the futurama'
  • This is what would happen if they put their faith back into the industry
  • The whole thing 6 by 3 miles, was seen as democracity.
  • The idea of individual freedom with democracy, this could only happen if people started buying and spending money again.
  • Ignore political parties and just consume.
  • Consumerism is an ideological project
  • We believe that through consumption our desires can be met.
  • The consumer self
  • The legacy of Bernays/PR can be felt in all aspects of 21st Century society.
  • The conflicts between alternative models of social organisation continue to this day.
  • To what extent are our lives 'free' under this western consumerist system.

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