“In a world where many stick to the script, Audi chose a different route.” So says Volkwagen AG’s Audi luxury subsidiary. Yes, buying a differently-labeled car: What a stroke of creativity and rebellion!
The latest, and very arguably the most heinous, violator of the Hicks Dictum*:
*Here’s the deal folks: you do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call forever. End of story, OK? You’re another corporate fucking shill, you’re another whore at the capitalist gang-bang. And if you do a commercial, there’s a price on your head, everything you say is suspect, and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink.
Each year, the Super Bowl football game features the latest and greatest television advertising tactics. Ordinary TV ads being far more expensively and lavishly made, in dollars-and-details per second terms, than even the biggest Hollywood movies, these ultra-hyped ads are always a serious reflection of the state of the marketing art. As such, they get worse — dumber, sicker, more smarmy and culturally childish — every year.
This year’s crop was so godawful, TCT hereby splits its uncoveted Golden Stool Award between three spots, each of which is so mind-bendingly horrible, distinction fails.
First, the directly, proudly fascist:
Paul Harvey was an undisguised fascist, a pal of J. Edgar Hoover, a flatterer and indulger of all that is backwards in white-American culture. His speech used here was racist tripe and one of the most ham-handed and undeserved pieces of audience buttering I’ve ever encountered. Need we compare the percentage of the population that is now farmers to the percentage of the population who merely allow such ridiculous drivel to keep them wasting money driving pick-up trucks? That gap is huge, thanks to this long-running overclass “cowboy” trick.
Next, another remarkable piece:
The two proposals of the ad are “buy this car for your kids,” and “use the in-car computer to control what they say.” Meanwhile, car crashes remain what they have long been — the number one cause of death (including all natural causes) for children aged 1-21. So, yes, get them a car — and be sure to ask for that redundant in-dash cell phone/entertainment computer, which further increases the threat to their lives.
Finally, this one from our old green-washing friend, Alex Bogusky:
Is it magic, this machine that claims to eliminate, rather than merely rearrange, the waste? Um, not so much:
Structurally and historically, big business marketing is a substitute for unrestrained, Adam-Smithian price competition, which capitalists have always hated and moved to suppress. By co-respectively avoiding price war and competing instead via marketing, big businesses essentially gain a power their own dogma denies they seek or have: the power to levy private taxes.
And big business marketing is precisely this: an activity funded by a tax levied by corporate shareholders upon those who comprise their targets, the sea of prospective buyers. The funds expended on big business marketing come from the marked-up prices of purchased corporate products. As I explained in The Consumer Trap book, in the aggregate, big business marketing is an activity that rivals total public government spending in scale.
The wastefulness of the spending this private tax embodies dwarfs most government programs.
Take the case of cellular telephone marketing in the USA, a topic we here at TCT have discussed before. Here you have an industry that is not only a natural monopoly (and therefore inherently easily run by the public), but one in which the private corporations who control it provide entirely unremarkable service at the world’s highest prices.
I’ve long been fascinated by the fact that, not only does saturation-level advertising accompany and largely cause this pointless (except to shareholders, of course) economic disaster, but the advertising in question, in the guise of “humor,” almost always depicts reasons not to use or “upgrade” cellular telephones!
Consider this particular ad, currently in heavy rotation on U.S. television, from AT&T:
Not only does this scene depict unattractive and shallow people using cell phones for a patently moronic and pointless activity within a setting — a moving automobile — that makes the depicted activity deadly, but what is the proffered benefit being suggested by the ad? To be five seconds ahead of your friends in receiving trivia. And the presentation? A threat: “Don’t be left behind!”
Our grandchildren will look back in horror that such were the priorities of our society and the nature of our “rethinking the possible” in the early 21st century. Should we somehow manage to dethrone our massively decrepit and shameless corporate overclass and pass future generations a world still capable to looking back, our “entrepreneurial” masters will be compared to Nero and Caligula.
I am somebody who argues, based on first-hand evidence described here and here, that racist stereotypes continue to play a very important part in the planning and execution of corporate television ads and other forms of sales communications.
And I am not one of those who thinks fascism is remotely likely in the United States. Fascism as an actual social and political movement requires lots of outdoors activity and apoplectic political behavior. As such, it is simply not compatible with market totalitarianism, one core requirement of which is that the vast majority be kept in the softened, amused, apolitical, lightly entranced and addicted audience-state that is most conducive to successful commercial media/advertising/sales/”politics” operations. I also believe that, despite the existence of a quarter or so of the population who do seem to hold proto-fascist views, ordinary Americans are way to the left of not just Nazism but their own “leaders,” and will not stand by and permit fascists to take over, even if the overclass were to permit it.
Nevertheless, this, which I happened to catch last night while cooking dinner and momentarily tuned (to avoid the political ads on my usual channel at dinner hour) to a bad-ass crime show that was running a soft-pedaling “expose” of a Nazi prison gang, just might be the single most racist thing I’ve seen on American television in my lifetime:
Crass and childish and uninformed and just damned dangerous. Truly, a fascist, Hitlerian ad.