reflective / sundry

New life resolution: not to be suckered in by multi-million-dollar marketing strategies

(something I wrote shortly after New Year’s Day this year, before I started this blog)

I’ve never been one to sign up to Fight the Man or to buy into conspiracy theories (even just the admittedly quite plausible theories of vast and vague malevolence by the Powers That Be), but in the last year I’ve grown gradually aware of the pervasiveness and depth of multi-million-dollar corporate marketing campaigns infiltrating everything around me (helped along by Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle).

Also, Facebook. One of my specific life goals now is never to let Facebook trick me into linking a third-party account to them or to let them post on my behalf. And I hate to say this, seeing how much of my life and work I’ve already given into their hands (hypothetically speaking), but I really have to beware the fuck of Google, too.

Andrew Sullivan — I would not call myself his fan, but I do love hearing any personal details of his life, so I guess I have affection for him, and my day was officially made that time he posted my dissent first in one of his dissent-of-the-day posts — anyway, he has a big part in this, because he has an excellent, relentless campaign to expose how much of popular “news” media is corporate-sponsored. Like 95% of Buzzfeed content, for instance (and that’s a site I never visit unless they’ve posted something about The Daily Show or John Oliver). Also, I was grieved to read that Time Inc. (which includes TIME magazine, a publication for which I have a stupid amount of love) has gone to the dark side. I don’t know if I’m going to refuse to renew my subscription, but…I’m going to keep a close eye on what happens over the next few years. And thank God for Andrew Sullivan keeping such a watchful eye, honestly.

I dislike being gullible. I used to be, as a child, and it led to some mortifying experiences and motivation never to experience them again, so I feel strongly about being duped. I like to think that I’m smart enough to see through the less-blatant advertising campaigns aimed at the masses. I may occasionally choose to buy into it anyway, but I want to know that’s what I’m doing.

So I’ve taken up a new motto for whenever I’m overcome by the “omg MUST have this” yearning:

“Am I in love with the product, or its marketing strategy?”

Because I often admire good marketing, especially since I started watching Mad Men four years ago. Sometimes I even deliberately reward good marketing. It pleases me that people put that much thought and effort in their attempt to seduce the fickle American public, that in particular they really got to know their target demographic, and maybe they found what we actually need or want, what will make our days just that little bit brighter. Like this summary of when pasta wanted our gay dollars. For a while now, I’ve tended to choose my beverages by consciously deciding which one has the best label (and also the most appealing description/advertised ingredients).

But I still want to have enough agency in my purchasing decisions to know what it is I’m actually buying.

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