Privacy for America!

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Our overclass doesn’t lack for chutzpah. As reported by Advertising Age, corporate marketers are hoping to get Congress to pass new “privacy” rules for data-use. By “privacy,” they mean “exposure,” of course.

The comprehensive dishonesty of the effort’s official explanation would, like the very name of its sponsoring group, make Big Brother choke on his Irish coffee. It is also, to put it one way, a true sign of the times.

The real story here is that the proposed new rules would, as Ad Age reports, be gestural and toothless, and would, thanks to their existence at the federal level, put a stop to individual states trying to create actual limits on big businesses’ behavior-surveillance efforts.

For students of propaganda, one interesting — and demanding — task would be to add notes and revisions correcting this official mission statement, to make it speak the actual, behind-the-scenes truth about its actual purpose. Literally every sentence here would require important changes. Some sentences lie with their every single word.

And this is no side effort. As Ad Age explains,

Five of the ad industry’s largest trade bodies have banded together to create “Privacy for America,” a coalition that aims to sway Congress in creating federal legislation on consumer data privacy.

The trade bodies — which include the 4A’s, Association of National Advertisers, Digital Advertising Alliance, Interactive Advertising Bureau and Network Advertising Initiative — are in a race to influence Congress in how lawmakers create federal guidelines surrounding user data for digital marketing.

Companies including Google, Facebook, AT&T, Hearst, Conde Nast, Disney, CBS and Amazon are all represented by trade bodies in the new group.

Frequent readers will know that TCT is fond of repeating Robert Heilbroner’s quotation about the dire long-term implications of a building a human culture around telling ornate lies for money. As “Privacy for America” shows, we now have a culture in which the most powerful players tell ornate lies about telling ornate lies for money.

Trouble in the Ministry of Truth

Big Brother poster Apple has touched off a pretty major row in the halls of marketing. Apparently, the next version of its Safari browser will restrict the creation and retention of “cookies,” which are little computer codes that allow big businesses to collect increasingly rich data, without acknowledgement or permission, on internet users. Why Apple is expressing this glint of conscience is an interesting question. Far more interesting and important, though, is what the now-brewing fight confirms about the nature of big business marketing.

Corporate marketing is scientific management of off-the-job behavior. Advertising, a subordinate phase in that endeavor, is lying for money.

If you doubt that, take a look at the big advertising trade groups’ “Open Letter” to Apple. Here’s the operative paragraph:

Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love. Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice. As organizations devoted to innovation and growth in the consumer economy, we will actively oppose any actions like this by companies that harm consumers by distorting the digital advertising ecosystem and undermining its operations.

Let’s translate this passage from marketing-speak into truth, shall we?:

Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed independent approach is bad for reflective of consumer* choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love tolerate. Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful it harder for corporations to harvest the data they need to keep manipulating people’s “free time” experiences. Put simply, Apple’s proposed machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice marketers’ existing dictates; they represent browser-manufacturer choice internet users’ clear, strongly-held preferences and best interests. As organizations devoted to innovation and growth in the consumer economy micro-managing off-the-job behavior on behalf of the corporate overclass, we will actively oppose any actions like this by companies that harm consumers corporate investors by distorting the digital advertising ecosystem and undermining its operations.

*Advertisers’ Thought Bubble: Ain’t it a great scam that we still get away with calling people “consumers”?

Brand-Building Through Catastrophe

Ad Age today has a thought piece by one “Tim Leake, senior VP-chief marketing officer at advertising agency RPA.” Mr. Leake says using natural disasters as marketing opportunities is “the icky thing to do.” Of course, he also answers a clear “no” to the the question “Should we just stay away?”

So, here’s what you do to make sure that devastation and sorrow make a contribution to your brand’s further implantation into targeted minds:

How should we say it?

Sometimes, to stop acting like a brand and start acting human, it helps to purposely do things that the brand wouldn’t normally do. A high-end production is likely to feel like an ad. A CEO speaking to her webcam is likely to feel more genuine. Or, if the brand’s Twitter stream is normally filled with product-centric messages, maybe share a screen-shot of a note from the people behind the brand. This will help put some distance between how you “normally act” and the gravity of the current situation.

Play humble and concerned, in other words.

Lovely stuff, Mr. Leake.

Pure Propaganda

Teads.tv, aptly near in several senses to Turds.tv, has the chutzpah to vocalize corporate capitalist dogma without a shred of shame. According to these hawkers, not only is the present content of the mass media in the United States “great,” but only through the current system of advertising-based production and distribution could we get any content at all. Take a look:

Beneath this amazing video, Teads tries to complain about public ignorance and ingratitude:

According to Teads research, 68% of consumers underestimate the amount of revenue that advertising contributes to media sites. The tendency to devalue the significance of ads might relate to the fact that many display and video units are designed without regard for the user-experience. Such units are interruptive to online activities, and too many of them can severely compromise a website’s look and appeal. To avoid these types of ads, many users have installed ad blockers—a move that removes frustrating online ads, but also cuts off the revenue that online content producers need to keep publishing great content.

Of course, the other way to read that 68% number is as evidence of overclass success at keeping the nature of its totalitarianism out of the public eye. Are folks ungrateful for capitalism’s great media gifts, or do capitalists want nothing to do with public consideration and supervision of basic media policies and practices? When people learn the facts about “the significance of ads,” do they get happy, or pissed off?

TCT suggests that the Teadsters may have swallowed their own bullshit a bit too deeply. As more seasoned and mature overclass forces know all too well, when it comes to the core institutional facts about big business marketing, an informed public would be an irate public.

As for the supposedly advertiser-desired open and honest debate of how our media works and the universe of alternatives, TCT says bring it on.

And while we’re at it, anybody want to make the video for “Imagine the Future if Advertisers Continue to Rule”? It ain’t a pretty picture.

Shamelessness on Stilts

She’s a major corporate-news hit now:

Notice the multiple dishonesties on display in this little routine.

1. Engineers “are one of the fastest growing jobs.”  Balderdash.  Not only is the single kind of engineering work on this list hardly a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-build-stuff variety, but it will employ a mere 25,400 individuals by 2020.  That will be something like 1/700th of one percent of the projected labor force then.  Yes, what a promising field!

2. If Ms. Engineer became an engineer — let’s not quibble over actual facts here — then how did that happen, given that she was into typical gendered toys and didn’t know what engineering even was until she was a senior in high school?

3. Does every GoldiBlox toy come with an admission and scholarship to Stanford University?

4. Look again at the kid playing with the actual toy.  How long do you think that will last?