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OUGD501 - Study Task 2 - Consumerism


Desire - False needs for commodities, manufactured desires, greed, stratification, inequality.

Social Control vs Freedom.

Freud - Irrational desires, animal instincts, the pleasure principle.

Bernays - PR.

What does humanity need?

You can't escape it, you are totally consumed in it. It becomes natural and part of every day lives. Because it is so natural and built into our subconscious, the effect and impact it has on our decision making and every day lives remains unnoticed. 

Natural competition increases the ideology of consumerism as it enforces the desire for the newest and best things to make you feel above other people through the products that are bought.

The idea of consumerism is the way people try to present themselves as individuals, however this leads to following a social trend or group because that is how you want to be perceived by others.

Write an analysis of an advert in the context of consumerism and issues of social control/false manufacturing of desire supported by John Berger quotations/statements. 500 words.

A car is an object considered as a variety of things, this could be a tool of transportation, a symbol of wealth, an object of classification but overall it tends to be a mixture of those options to a man. A man of wealth will buy an expensive car to drive to show others that he has money. It puts this mentioned man above general society in his mind because women will notice and be attracted, and other men will notice and envy him.

This has always been the case in our lives since consumerism took a toll of our society from the early 1910’s onwards. Adverts have evolved to use marketing strategies of false needs and added values, which increase the desire for said products. This BMW advert is a very simple but clever use of these marketing strategies aiming it at men. It consists of a landscape photograph of a brand new and shiny BMW parked on white gravel outside a modern and expensive home under the blue sky. Type conveniently placed above the car and in the sky, possibly instilling the idea of “high aspirations” to the viewer, says a single word “Can.” - “These images belong in the moment but speak of the future produces a strange effect which has become so familiar that we scarcely notice it.” [Berger J (1972) p.130].

         This single word can have a powerful effect on a man with aspirations. This word enhances the idea of a better life, a better future, a powerful and envious life and not only that but happiness. - “It proposes to each of us that we transform ourselves, or our lives, by buying something more. This more, it proposes, will make us in some way richer – even though we will be poorer by having spent our money.” [Berger J (1972) p.131].

The psychology behind this marketing has been perfected throughout a drastic array of media publicizing a vast variety of products to different audiences using the same tools and attachments of false needs. - “The publicity image steals her love of herself as she is, and offers it back to her for the price of the product.” [Berger J (1972) p.132]. These methods of publicity are used to such a degree everywhere that we don’t realize it - “We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice. As a result of this act, what we see is brought within our reach” [Berger J (1972) p.8]. Before we know it, we are living to spend. We go to work and save up for more “things” being marketed to us to satiate our hungry desires for a better and more fulfilling life, once that product has been bought there is another one to buy.

         Target audiences are very well picked out and addressed in advertisements such as this BMW image. It is directly addressing the working-man and telling him that his dreams and aspirations of success will come from buying the car pictured. - “Publicity is always about the future buyer. It offers him an image of himself made glamorous by the product or opportunity it is trying to sell. The image then makes him envious of himself as he might be. Yet what makes this self-which-he-might-be enviable? The envy of others.” [Berger J (1972) p.132].

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