Apart from providing invaluable, presumably at least partly unintended assistance to the overclass by helping legitimize the catastrophic “vocabulary of consumption” as the prevailing way of describing issues of product design and product use, Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, has a long history of getting weaker and worse at pursuing its own mission. The accommodationist process is approaching its logical end. Having long ago chosen to refrain from investigating and reporting on issues of political economy and product policy, Consumer Reports now faces competition from other mere product review enterprises. In reply, what is Consumers Union doing? Why, capitulating further, of course. It has just now created the first-ever marketing campaign on behalf of the “Consumer Reports” brand name.
Over at CounterPunch, Ralph Nader, he of the macabre number-fudge, turns his attention to advertising. His findings?
1) Advertising really doesn’t work:
Ask yourself when was the last time you saw any of those tiny ads on Google and Facebook and rushed to buy the products or services. For that matter, ask yourself whether any radio or television advertisements prompted you to go out and buy the product. Sure the newspaper ads announcing short-term sales for clothes or household goods may get you to the market, along with the supermarket specials for foodstuffs. But generally speaking, you must wonder what the business community gets for its tens of billions of dollars annually pouring out of their advertising budgets. I can almost hear the chuckles from Madison Avenue reacting to this skepticism about whether ads are worth their price. Such doubts are almost never publically [sic] discussed.
2) Consumer Reports is a rational form of resistance to marketing:
There is one organization that doesn’t lose any sleep over the question: “do advertising dollars work or are they largely wasted?” Consumers Union, through its monthly magazine Consumer Reports and its website services, gives you just the facts derived from its wide ranging honest testing programs. With over five million magazine print subscribers and three million online subscribers, more and more Americans are getting it the rational way. By the way, Consumer Reports has never carried advertising in its seventy-five year history.
That first argument is simply lazy and uninformed.
As for Consumer Reports, however useful it may be in a narrow sense, it is what it is — a magazine that blithely, if not gleefully, recommends corporate products, with zero criticism of whether we ought to be shopping for things like automobiles at this point in human history and zero coverage of political and macro-economic alternatives to corporate commodification.
We TCTers might also note the typical swallowing and normalizing of the “consumer” insult. Both “Consumers Union” and Mr. Nader continue to use “consumer” as a natural and even empowering label for product-users, again without the smallest hint that such a choice might be doing a piece of Big Business’s work for it.