Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Gruen Transfer - Advertising

You may or not have seen a very successful show on the ABC called The Gruen Transfer. It is a 30 minute show devoted entirely to looking at advertising, most specifically television advertising. It is a fascinating insight into a world of attention grabbing, what triggers our interest and desires, and how that can be manipulated. It also looks occasionally at how advertising has developed, and in some cases become very sophisticated.

I was made aware of the power of advertising when I watched a history program many years ago. The program spoke about the problems that many western countries faced after the Second World War. Much industry was in place to develop and produce weapons and ammunition, which were no longer required. This industry began to create and produce items such as fridges and washing machines. However, after many years of conservative spending and economy that was the result of the dread years of the Depression, no one would buy the new products. They were considered luxury and non essential to the spend thrift population.

Something was required to change the habits and thoughts of the populace, so the would buy. In order to keep money moving, industry producing and workers employed, people had to buy what they did not believe they needed. Then began a new phase in the advertising realm (used most effectively during the war years as propaganda) to create a desire in consumers that they did not have. The campaign was "You deserve it."

And consumers believed it and changed their spending habits to prove it. They agreed they had suffered many years of hardship, and want, and making do. They believed it was time to reward themselves. Then they bought a new washer, although the old one worked well enough, but was not as shiny.

I was astounded that this consumer desire that most of us have suffered has been a manipulation from the beginning. Not only does it continue on - only becoming more subtle, sophisticated, invasive and expensive - but it's still necessary to the continued function of this world system. In reality, the people of the past may very well have deserved some luxury after years of saving, and re-using, and making do. But I am not sure how the argument goes nowadays. Never-the-less, advertising still manages to make us feel we deserve to up-grade.

This advertising world encourages us to be dissatisfied with what we have, to want more, better, bigger, brighter. Advertising and its role in our world perpetuates suffering in our human phychi. Rather than an attitude of gratitude for all we have, and the beauty of our world, we are encouraged to be dissatisfied with how we live. Rather than bringing our minds into the Now, advertising is there to remind us to strive for more, make more money so we can buy more. Advertising,therefore, takes our thoughts directly into the future. And instead of allowing our ego to subside, we have advertising to trigger everything our ego's feed on - envy, desire, greed, dissatisfaction, and criticism.

What can we do? Personally, we can understand, and recognise the mechanics of advertising - recognise the deception and manipulation there in. Remain conscious. Practice gratitude everyday. Question what we NEED. Fast forward the ads.

No comments: