Unilever Runs on Lies

Unilever, the multinational mega-corporation that markets the utterly horrendous, unneeded, and wasteful Axe Body Spray, is under attack from feminists and parents. Seems that, at the same time it’s peddling Axe via waves of super-sexist mind-conditioning campaigns targeted at teenage boys, it’s also trying to curry favor with women and girls by running “viral” marketing videos suggesting Unilever favors mass appreciation of “real beauty,” a.k.a. females who are sane enough to found their self-esteem on something more substantial than how closely they resemble the “aspirational” super-models and man-chasing bimbos portrayed in most corporate advertisements and commercial media.

Caught playing it both ways, Unilever made this statement:

The Axe campaign is a spoof of ‘the mating game’ and men’s desire to get noticed by women and not meant to be taken literally.

This is the most howling of lies, the exact diametrical opposite of the truth, which is that Axe’s entire “brand strategy” is to further commodify teenage boys’ self-interpretation by training them to think that using Axe will raise their chances of getting into girls’ (a.k.a. dimwitted vagina-bearers’) pants. By thus worsening the already awful post-feminist, Britney-Lindsay-Paris-and-Hillary Duff ideological climate, Unilever is selling perfume to boys, who would obviously laugh in your face if you tried an honest approach.

Unilever is not unique, of course. Studied, systematic, multi-layered dishonesty is absolutely essential to all big business marketing. If you bother to look, you see that the art and science of is now the rapidly-expanding stock-in-trade of big business marketers everywhere.

BBM Asshole: Chuck Brymer

chuckie on the loose Introducing BBM Asshole #2: Chuck Brymer, President and CEO of multinational advertising agency DDB Worldwide.

Chuckie won his new mega-overpaid job atop DDB by promoting “swarm theory,” a new concept by which big business marketers are trying to get “consumers” to glom onto their products like “flocks of birds and schools of fish.” (To marketing planners, “consumers” are always some kind of animal — frogs, mice, dogs, monkeys, fish, birds.)

Planning ways to add new layers of behavioral control to the already stunningly expensive and ubiquitous BBM juggernaut is, of course, a logical part of corporate capitalism. As I explain in The Consumer Trap, big business normalcy generates a constantly growing marketing race between its constituent firms/unaccountable private tyrannies.

Brymer’s “swarm” marketing strategy, for which he is now being promoted and rewarded, is to go beyond merely configuring “consumer” environments to profitably reshape “consumer behavior.” Now, Brymer is teaching the overclass how to use things like Facebook, Myspace, and the booming field of “word-of-mouth marketing” to make people themselves into marketing vectors. In other words, the concept is to get the lab mice to apply the chosen stimuli amongst themselves, rather than merely relying on the indirect method of controlling mazes and levers and chemical implants.

Brymer explains this neo-Orwellian move to Advertising Age:

“I increasingly see people as media.”

BBM Asshole.

BBM Asshole: Roger Black

Tonight, I launch a new CT feature: the BBM [Big Business Marketing] Asshole List. When I come across words or actions from a corporate marketing practitioner that tips the hand of the system with particular clarity and power, the asshole in question will appear here to collect their glory. (Nominees from readers very welcome!)

The very first BBM Asshole enshrinement goes to ad designer Roger Black. the blackmeister

The esteemed Mr. Black enunciates the mind of corporate capital regarding something the public utterly hates and would sharply reverse, if it had any access to the decisions driving it: the increasing advertising clutter that emanates from big business normalcy.

“It’s like noise on the streets of Manhattan,” Black tells Advertising Age about the problem of “consumers” becoming desensitized by ever-exploding ad clutter.

“You [here, Black means citizens, not corporate shills such as himself] just get used to it, in which case you [and here he means corporate shills such as himself] just have to make it noisier.”

BBM Asshole.

The Last Black Friday?

retail run

People camping out to save $100 on made-in-China plasma TVs, the better to watch “Survivor XVII: Mesopotamia.” In one of the finer unwittingly double-edged metaphors established by our corporate capitalist press, this “traditional” display of loss-leader marketing from above and petty neurosis below has come to be called “Black Friday.”

One wonders though: Will such provoked insanity still be possible by The Holidays® 2008? Considering the state of the nation, with its winners-took-all pseudo-economy, its howlingly venal “bi-partisan” “leadership” stratum, and its subsequent denial of the whole damned Peak Oil world, Black Friday 2007 makes me wonder how 1929 must have looked from the vistas of Xmas© 1928.

Meanwhile, ordinary Americans may want to save their sleeping bags for some rather different, if somehow familiar, reasons to hit the pavement. The times, they are a-changing…

bank runfood run

fuel run

Systematic Waste

Corporate capitalism operates — normally and increasingly so — by selling people more stuff than rational design requires. The automobile is a linchpin of the system. It is also the most wasteful mass-distributed product in human history, by a wide margin. This picture, from the Muenster, Germany city planning office illustrates depicts the amount of stuff (and, hence, space) involved in using cars versus buses or bikes:

waste depicted

It would have taken an massive, intentional, coordinated effort (ala Vance Packard‘s rocket blasts of excess goods) to have squandered more energy and materials than has been wasted on automobiles-ueber-alles in America. It’s going to be understood as one of our country’s many huge criminalities, if we somehow figure out how to survive its coming implosion, which promises economic and military chaos.

Green Smoke Indeed!

James Howard Kunstler today posts this useful news nugget:

Blowing Green Smoke Up America’s Ass # 23:General Motors – referred to nowadays as “the sub-prime loan company that also makes cars” – has opened a public relations campaign on National Public Radio to convince the public that its heart is in the right place. The centerpiece of the campaign is the Chevy Volt, GM’s venture into hybrid cars. The voice in the radio spot announces that the Volt is an environmentally-friendly electric vehicle assisted by what they call “an on-board range-extending power source.” Wonder what that means? Think gasoline-powered internal combustion engine.

And, of course, the smoke being blown here is much worse than just this.

First of all, the Chevy Volt is a concept car, not a production one. If you could buy one -and you can’t– it would carry a price-tag of $100,000!

Second, even the great General Motors, with its long track record of delivering high-quality, cutting-edge cars (that thud you just heard was people everywhere falling off their chairs in paroxysms of laughter) admits it isn’t planning to sell a Volt until at least 2010 — despite the fact that they are advertising them now! (This tells us something crucial about the role of supposedly “green” vehicles in the car corporations’ plans. Even as they sponsor NPR propaganda campaigns, you can hear the rustle of accumulated capital fleeing somewhere, anywhere, other than into future investments in car-making…UAW take note.)

And, of course, all of this jive talk presumes and promotes public ignorance about the most basic fact of the science of energy — the reality that all supplies of energy for fueling cars are not just finite, but up against the wall of history. Plugging your car into the wall is hardly a viable answer to the arrival of Peak Oil, as explained by Kunstler and others. Nevertheless, talking as if it were underlies everything GM and the other auto-capitalists are now saying.

The extent to which more well-meaning folks, who might otherwise see through the outdated, increasingly murderous capitalist scam behind automobiles-ueber-alles, fail to resist this “green smoke” is the exact extent to which we are all doomed.