The Comatose Left

homer brain Google is apparently heightening its censorship of news sources, in response to the Duopoly©’s “fake news” flap. Mirroring the Democratic© brand of the duopoly’s proposed answer to the latest worsening of the nation’s information-and-education climate, Google is running with the notion that “more authoritative content” is what is needed within the otherwise uncriticized structure and flow of the corporate mass media. “Authoritative,” of course, means “mainstream,” which, in turn, means what is squarely conventional within the usual logic of corporate media properties.

What does the political left have to say about fixing this blatant attack on free and open thought? Nothing. The #Occupy folks are too high on anarchist fantasy to maintain organizing efforts, let alone name detailed demands. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, remains too tied to the overseers and tactics of the Democratic© brand to dare mention the obvious remedy.

That remedy, by the way, is to empower the United States Postal Service to live up to its Constitutional mandate. This would involve modernizing the USPO, to make it a fully-funded and aggressively-managed provider of not just ISP and cellular access, but also secure, marketing-free, non-commercial search engine, web browsing, and social networking software/services.

Marketing as a Share of GDP

dollar-eye Nobody knows for sure what percentage of overall (so-called) economic activity now goes into marketing. As reported in The Consumer Trap book, experts in the early 1990s guesstimated that it was something like 1/7. Because even that probably didn’t including the share of expenses of actual production that are explained by marketing considerations, that, stunning a number as it was, was probably a severe under-statement.

In any event, here is some new data from Gartner, Inc. on this important topic:

Marketing leaders surveyed estimate their budgets, on average, total 12% of revenue, marking the third consecutive year of increases in Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey results. Larger companies tend to spend a higher proportion of their revenue on marketing — 13% at companies with more than $5 billion in annual revenue versus 10% at smaller companies that have $250 million to $500 million in annual revenue.

This, again, doesn’t count the costs of marketing’s penetration into production. But, generally speaking, it corroborates the idea that a huge chunk of corporate capitalism’s output is marketing/social engineering/economic waste.

State Planning

Vincent Price with funnel The latest Bloomberg Businessweek has an edifying report on how the U.S. government helps dairy farmers literally, consciously shove more cheese down people’s throats. Titled “The Mad Cheese Scientists Fighting to Save the Dairy Industry,” BBW‘s (pardon the unplanned pun there) story tells how the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service collects a small producer tax on each 100 pounds of dairy sold by farmers, then spends the money on things like Dairy Management, Inc., a non-profit agency that deploys big business marketing techniques to “increase sales and demand for dairy products.”

Hmm…

Let’s imagine we’re health czar, shall we? Looking at the present health trends in the U.S. population, how near to the top of the list of recommendations for improving public health do you think you’d rank “Eat more cheese.”?

Indeed, isn’t goading today’s Americans to eat more cheese actually a not-very-roundabout way of KILLING a rather appreciable number of them?

Et voila! According to BBW (again with the pun), here is what happens when the government trains and embeds cheese-pushers inside poor, suffering multinational corporate properties like Taco Bell, to help them figure out how to make and sell “Quesalupas”:

Americans [now] eat 35 pounds of cheese per year on average—a record amount, more than double the quantity consumed in 1975.

Such mass murder is just fine, though, because there are “industries” to be rescued from themselves, and the externalities of the rescue are so wonderfully profitable to the ballooning medico-industrial complex, too.

And the glorious work must, of course, continue: “The cheese glut is so massive (1.3 billion pounds in cold storage as of May 31) that on two separate occasions, in August and October of last year, the federal government announced it would bail out dairy farmers by purchasing $20 million worth of surplus for distribution to food pantries.”

And there’s an added bonus! The National Football League can then, also under USDA/DMI suggestion, not only feign concern over childhood obesity but also lend its logos and heroes to the effort to “Fuel Up” for the phony remedy with — wait for it — “nutrient-rich foods that students like to eat — like so-called “comfort foods”— including pizza and macaroni and cheese.”

Self-Storage Statistics

clutter-on-couch Corporate capitalism means an ever-expanding marketing race between its major firms, which in turn means the ceaseless, progressive, radical commodification and commercialization of human cultures.

Here is one apt indicator of this entirely predictable, if politically unmentioned, trend:

As of 2016, the annual revenue of the U.S. self-storage industry exceeded the annual gross domestic products of each of the 100 poorest nation-states on Earth.

Home as Marketing Platform

The Consumer Trap has several core theses. One is that corporate capitalism, through its constituent firms’ relentless expansion and refinement of marketing operations and campaigns, is every bit as totalitarian a social order as ever there was or will be. Another is that, thanks to its peculiar nature (it works in part by doling out pleasures and conveniences) and superior deniability (it is competitively and privately, not centrally and publicly, developed), market totalitarianism is far more successful and secure than state totalitarianism ever was or will be.

Consider then, the nature and logic of News Corp.’s “Home of the Future.” In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Big Brother’s police agencies enjoyed only telescreens in the homes of certain persons of interest. In Leonard Cohen’s 1998 “Tower of Song” lament, the complaint was about our system, but only that “The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor.”

consumer house Quite so, but now corporate marketers are turning their attentions to how to deploy artificial intelligence technologies to make the entire house a marketing platform.

“Home is the next and most powerful marketing canvas,” said [marketing researcher Simon] Gosling. “The rules are changing … we are stepping towards a new ecosystem of machines, screens and devices, where brands can share stories with consumers in their homes.”

This is the explanation, per Advertising Age, of

“a 2,000 square foot ‘Home of the Future,’ created by News Corp. and ad tech company Unruly in partnership with marketers including Amazon Launchpad, PepsiCo, Heineken, eBay, Unilever, HTC, Nokia Health, and Tesco. The installation opening today in London has been created to give marketers and agencies a first-hand experience of the connected home, and a chance to think about how they might use it to engage consumers.

“Artificial Intelligence is hardest at work in the kitchen, which is stocked with brands from Unilever and supermarket chain Tesco. In this room you can give your AI system a budget and a license to search for deals from different brands and supermarkets. And cooking becomes simple, as your fridge talks you through every step of a recipe and then alerts the family when dinner’s ready. You might find a new item in your shopping basket that’s been placed there as a free sample, based on your preferences, and then let the AI assistant know whether you like it and if you would recommend it to friends.

“Much of the technology is voice-activated. ‘By January, Amazon had sold 11 million Alexa devices, and by 2020 Alexa is expected to have added $11 billion of revenue,’ Gosling said, as evidence that voice control will play a key role in interactions of the future. ‘This is about helping brands to understand new technology,’ Gosling said. ‘Normally there’s a lag where brands get into a space after the consumer, but we have identified where consumers will be in 2020 so we can get there before them. We are being disruptive in our own business.’ Asked if the future home will be for the wealthy, Gosling said, ‘Everyone’s got a phone. Everyone’s got a TV. And millions of people have got an Alexa.’

“News Corp. bought video advertising company Unruly for $176 million in 2015. News Corp. brands, including Dow Jones (which has created a hologram to bring the stock market to life), publisher HarperCollins, and foodie site Taste.com.au, are evident throughout the Future Home. So why is a video advertising company launching a home of the future? An Unruly statement said, ‘Unruly get brands’ videos seen, shared and loved. We do this on mobile and desktop… and we’ll continue to do so in the next era of advertising, which is the connected home… We’ve built Home to study the development of this new platform, enabling us to guide our clients in this exciting new frontier.'”