Alexa Skills

So, corporations are now promoting “smart” appliances. The motive, of course, is further increase in big business marketing capacities, which are thoroughly totalitarian.

The other factor here, as is the case with the corporate command over paid labor processes, is the question of skills. At this late stage of corporate capitalism, the overclass stands so confident and unchallenged, they don’t even feel much need to euphemize about this. Witness Alexa Skills, which shamelessly names the process of alienating, commercializing, and commodifying human abilities.

If you think this doesn’t matter because each individual skill transfer is trivial, recall the piranha effect. Then, ask yourself: How many phone numbers do you know these days? Where did that form of mental acuity go?

Annals of Commodification

‘Tis once again the season of peak selling, so a roving TCTer’s thoughts naturally turn to the topic of how, even as their socio-economic order finishes devouring the basis for the further maturation of human society, corporate capitalists continue to provide solutions to non-problems.

Now, so far, the system’s critics have been rather less than careful with the topic of product provision and use, having committed to treating it as “consumption” and then swinging various crude hammers pointlessly around the room. Herbert Marcuse, foreshadowing if not script-writing for Ronald Reagan, based his work on the presumption that average black people in the Jim Crow United States had Cadillacs. Such things not only flew with the left but became classics of supposedly critical theory.

Mainstream critics of leftist cultural critics are, sadly, largely correct when they say the left has tended to be way too cavalier about the existence of great capitalist products. This is funny (in both senses) in part because Marx and Engels famously praised some features of capitalism. Yet few subsequent thinkers in the Marxian tradition have thought with precision about the indisputable and extremely important fact that a great many of the products business society has managed to work out and make affordable are things any sane democracy would want to retain in any decent, sustainable future.

The fact that the system also is quite good at turning broad public scientific breakthroughs (for which it then takes undeserved credit, of course) into actual gadgets is nothing to sneeze at, either, if we want to make such a future.

But, having said all this, it remains true that corporate capitalism is, by its core design, drowning us in silly-ass, often hi-tech, crapola.

Once TCT‘s editor finishes his ongoing book about the ultimate platform for this systemic project, our TCT website will get an overdue structural upgrade and thereby return to seeking user interactivity. One thing we’ll work on then is gathering nominees not only for the annual Golden Hicksie, but also a reader-fueled competition for most offensive new commodity of whatever years we have left.

Perhaps, inspired by this here new product, which I encountered yesterday, we will call that new award the Consumer Trap Turkey of the Year:

turkey-fryer

That, friends, is the Waring electric turkey fryer. It retails for more than $600. One would love to know how many times each one sold will ever be used. Surely, the ever-so-perfectly-named Conair Corporation knows. It is the entity that puts this beautifully stupid thing on the market.

Celebrate the Lifestyle

Was there ever a more honest marketing pitch than this one from the Satanic organization known as the National Rifle Association? Its tagline is a pithy summation of the insipid message and crude but obviously effective method of the vast majority of modern “country” music and associated commodities, not the least of which are guns.

nra ad

Paging Professor Santayana…

photo of bellamy salute The United States is all aflutter over the moral status of respect for its national flag and its peculiar, all-but-compulsory nationalist rituals. As usual, those offended by the disrespect are utterly ignorant about the actual genesis of what they defend. Turns out that not only was the author of The Pledge a socialist, but also “hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.”

But wait. It gets even worse for the putative upholders of tradition and original values. It also turns out that the “Pledge of Allegiance” came into the world in 1892 (not 1776), a year squarely within and contributory to the Nadir of American Race Relations, as a marketing scheme to sell flags and magazine subscriptions.

This is not all. Here is the original instruction on how to signal one’s endorsement of and/or compliance with The Pledge’s sentiment:

At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute — right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.

That gesture was known as the Bellamy Salute and was the official Pledge accompaniment until 1942, when, against the DAR‘s attempts to keep it even after a two decades of European fascism, Congress shame-facedly buried it (but not The Pledge itself).

Santayana nailed it: Those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it.

ROFL of the Day

roflmfao Drumpf’s brain-du-jour (and, as ever, it ain’t much of a brain), Stephen Miller, said, in Drumpf’s war-criminal UN speech, that “In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone.”

Let’s be honest, though, shall we?

Even if this familiar and petulant howler were actually true, maybe it would be because “our way of life” is largely an amalgam of outcomes engineered by $2,000,000,000,000 worth of corporate marketing operations. In America, in other words, our way of life is imposed upon us by our one percenters.

What Scares Corporate Marketers

eyeball “It’s pretty scary,” Scott Hagedorn tells Advertising Age.

Who is Hagedorn, and of what is he afraid?

“We are not reaching young audiences effectively,” says this CEO of Hearts & Science, the marketing agency that describes its work for “the world’s biggest brands” thus:

Our clients shift from brands that push content out to brands that pull people in. We’re creating new relationships between brands and people like never before.

The crisis to which Hagedorn refers is the fact that:

a growing audience of people who aren’t tracked — and therefore can’t be targeted or measured — with traditional tools and platforms. They consume media on mobile devices and OTT. They’re “cord cutters” and “cord nevers.” And they represent tremendous buying power for brands. The stakes are high—47% of Millennials and Gen X appear “unreachable” within standard planning tools, and 66% of their media consumption isn’t tracked, either.

Hagedorn clarifies in today’s Wall Street Journal:

And if it can’t be measured, it can’t be properly targeted or planned against as part of a cohesive, cross-platform campaign.

“Planned against.” Write that down, TCT readers.

Meanwhile, not to worry, overclass. Answers, as always, are being perfected by heroes like Hagedorn. Thanks to the emerging standard practice of “integrating code to measure in-app content and ad consumption…on literally every [video-watching] platform, device and client app,” the crude surveillance methods of the past are on their way out.

The days of yore wherein the [Nielsen] panel served as the proxy for an audience — setting behavior, reach, and cost estimates — fall out of the picture. Google and Facebook , along with telecom “pipes” like AT&T and Verizon , and retailers like Amazon, have massive install bases that are logged in across screens, making identity-based marketing not only feasible, but the most accurate solution to capture these new consumer behaviors.

We’ll no longer need the panel as proxy for an audience, as we’ll have a deterministic view of the people in the audience. Identity-based marketing becomes the solution that holds consumer identity as the currency against which we measure, plan and buy media across devices and platforms.

As many of these platforms own the consumer experience from end to end – not just identifying their audience at a granular level, but also creating the content being consumed – it’s only a matter of time until these identity-based currencies and identity-based experiences become the marketer’s art. [WSJ, 9/22/2017]