The (Further) Demise of Content

sponsored_life Leslie Savan, TCT‘s favorite advertising critic, once wrote that, if you want to understand advertisements, one of the major principles to bear in mind is “follow the flattery.” Ego strokes are often used to build brand affection and loyalty.

Of course, as we TCTers know, marketing is a core part of the overall corporate capitalist order, and, as such, faces constant pressure to refine and extend itself.

Hence, is it any surprise that the premium on flattery is devouring more and more of the “content” (aka programming, aka “shows”) in commercial media? Content, after all, is merely secondary advertising, something that exists to attract eyeballs and eardrums to advertising/marketing (aka unintentional shopping).

Exhibit A: The new television program “Up All Night,” the plot of which is: two new, first-time parents attempt to care for their baby, with supposedly inherently hilarious results. Is it funny, or just an attempt at flattery? Judge for yourself:

Exhibit B: The new motion picture, “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” the plot of which is: a woman holds down an upper class “job,” while also trying to be a wife and mother. This one is also a load of undisguised, straight-up button-pushing. It is, in Tasha Robinson‘s apt phrase, lifestyle porn:

Such is American culture these (late) days. Hilarious, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, for those of you wondering how Hollywood movies serve as marketing vehicles, two words: product placement. “I Don’t Know How She Does It” features not one, but two Product Placement Coordinators (look under “Other Crew”). During its filming, one product placement expert described it thus:

Sarah Jessica Parker leaves her character of bad girl from New York upper class to become a London City broker. In this case she is even a mother and has to conciliate these two roles. The comedy is based on the best-seller by Allison Pearson, who will be out in February with her second novel “I think I love you”….The shootings will begin in London in January. A product placement fit for high fashion Companies, accessories, and baby products. A rare occasion for products for kids; the premises fo this movie seems to be in fact really good.

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Nick
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Nick

So, I have been stumbling across your blog while performing research in what impact consumerism and namely deskilling of society has for cultural values and value of object/products alike. Although you know how to break down other people, in the end I’m not sure where you are going with this blog, what do you want to achieve. Although I am aware that as an Industrial Designer our profession has been a catalyst for mass production, marketing and ‘globalisation of capitalism’, I would like to ensure I am bound to search for a new path, away from green movement initiatives that… Read more »

Michael Dawson
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Hi, Nick, and welcome to TCT. You ask excellent questions. The immediate purpose of this blog is to show people how corporate planners (on behalf of wealthy shareholders) manipulate “free time” experiences and choices, and to demonstrate that corporate capitalism requires this manipulation, on an always-expanding basis. The secondary purpose of this blog is to get people to think about how radically unsustainable this arrangement is, and to encourage movement toward a decent alternative. The work you are doing sounds vital and utterly important to me. My only complaint about local solutions is that many of their architects tend to… Read more »