Quote of the Day: Truth for the Animals

Dmitry Orlov says it’s boondoggles chasing boondoggles.  The late, great Marvin Harris simply labeled it “intensification.”

Either way, the point is that overclasses do one thing and one thing only — pursue the tactics and strategies that carried them to the top of the societies to which they dictate the terms of life.

Alas, as both Orlov and Harris argue, this reliance on doing the same-old-same-old only gets stronger after class decrepitude arrives and the underlying conditions for further exploitation (and further life for the proles) begin to erode themselves.  Just when they most need fresh ideas, established overclasses instead only redouble the old ones.

Any brush with the news of the day provides ample proof of this thesis.

My task for today is to pass along the sub-news that the point applies to big business marketing as well as to macro-economic policy and geo-politics.

Consider this comment from Douglas Brooks, Senior Vice President of the Aegis Group’s Media Marketing Assessment unit:

When the fish get finicky, it makes you a better fisherman.  The presentation of the bait and how it’s delivered — getting it in the right spot at the right time — becomes critical.

This quote comes in a February 23, 2009 Advertising Age column reporting on how television marketers are seeing the effectiveness of their profit-seeking behavior-modification efforts increase, despite the times.  [Article title: “Guess Which Medium is as Effective as Ever: TV”]

Notice the reduction of the supposedly holy and wholly sovereign “consumer” here.  In this case, it’s to “fish” swimming past baited hooks.  Just as often, it’s to dogs, frogs, pigs, or chickens.

Them’s the terms of the trade inside the leading institution of cultural planning in America, folks…

Reification of the Day

Even as “the market” implodes and again refutes its own totalitarian worshippers’ dogmas, our “mainstream” (read “overclass”-serving) leaders continue to talk about “it” in terms that would embarrass any self-respecting third-grader.

What am I talking about?  Treating “the market” as an actual, real thing, rather than a euphemistic abstraction for aggregate capitalist endeavors.

Check out this headline from yesterday’s New York Times:

Trying to Break Cycle, Markets Rise

It’s remarkable to watch how utterly imprisoned by its own ideologies our super-decrepit overclass is.  The rotten, impotent twaddle pours forth, even as the Wile E. Coyote feet keep scrambling on canyon air.  Don’t ever look down, o brave entreperneurs!

They don’t know themselves vewwy well, do they?

Why (Most) Movies Suck

The market totalitarians who call themselves “conservatives” are messing their drawers over the very idea of adding $50 million to the laughably puny $145-million annual budget of the National Endowment for the Arts. “Conservatives,” you see, say they think the NEA is a boondoggle.

Contrast this sense of where boondoggles come from with the excellent recent reportage of New Yorker critic Tad Friend on the workings of the corporate capitalist movie studios — where $50 million, by the way, is less than half of what gets spent there on a single movie, a.k.a. “property,” according to Friend.

As Friend reports:

“Studios now are pimples on the ass of giant conglomerates,” one studio’s president of production says. “So at green-light meetings it’s a bunch of marketing and sales guys giving you educated guesses about what a property might gross.

This, of course, means that:

Marketing considerations shape not only the kind of films studios make but who’s in them—gone are lavish adult dramas with no stars, like the 1982 “Gandhi.”

Even within this situation, which is well-known to industry insiders, if not the general public, there is no doubt what corporate capitalist movies are:

Marketers and filmmakers are often quietly at war. “The most common comment you hear from filmmakers after we’ve done our work is ‘This is not my movie,’ ” Terry Press, a consultant who used to run marketing at Dreamworks SKG, says. “I’d always say, ‘You’re right—this is the movie America wants to see.’ ”

Friend finds the resulting imperatives “unexpected,” but nonetheless does a great job listing them.

Read moreWhy (Most) Movies Suck

Can’t Cook?: Frankenfood Brain Code for Sale

Corporate capitalism is the most radically and successfully totalitarian social system in history. No aspect of life is safe from its relentless penetration and re-organization.

Want evidence? Consider the example of iFood Assistant, the Kraft Foods conglomerate’s new “app” for iPhones.

Here’s how Advertising Age describes this exciting advance in big business marketing:

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — One of the coolest apps on the iPhone isn’t Pandora or Facebook: It’s recipes and shopping lists for Kraft singles, Jell-O gelatin and Minute Rice.

Yes, enough Kraft Food devotees are actually paying to be marketed to on their beloved iPhones that the company’s iFood Assistant is now one of the device’s 100 most popular paid apps, and No. 2 in the lifestyle category. With its endeavor, Kraft is pulling off a rare trick: getting consumers to pay a one-time 99-cent fee for the app and also sit through ads on it. And in the process, it’s collecting useful data for targeting them more closely.

IFood Assistant’s rich interface works well with the handset, and its navigation is similar to that of the iPod. The app offers a host of recipes, browse-able by ingredients, meal type or prep time. Consumers may register at KraftFoods.com to save recipes and build shopping lists.

Recipes come with instructions simple enough for the uninitiated, and daily featured recipes try to tempt the uninspired. Of course, the dishes incorporate Kraft products. A featured recipe last week, for “chicken cacciatore pronto,” calls for Kraft Light Zesty Italian dressing, chicken thighs, garlic, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red peppers, whole-wheat spaghetti, Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese and Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese.

And that’s not all, boys and girls! Not only does Kraft get to sell you the cooking knowledge you lack due to corporate capitalism’s past and present assault on personal time and personal skills; not only do these Kraft-written “recipes” drive you to buy you Kraft’s processed (and hence more profitable) Frankenfoods; but, in the bargain, Kraft gets its mitts on a trove of better-than-free “marketing data” that will help its extend and refine its control over your most basic life activities! To wit:

For now, Ed Kaczmarek, director-innovation, new services at Kraft, said Kraft is using the data to understand when and how consumers are shopping, what they’re making, and which ingredients they prefer. Since users need to sign in to Kraft Foods before downloading recipes and shopping lists, that information is sent directly to the company, allowing Kraft to gather information on which recipes are the most popular and which ingredients are most used. Kraft is, of course, running ads throughout the app, some before the instructional videos and some with searches.

Footnote: To complete the picture, I tried to go onto iTunes to leave a warning about this Trojan Horse product. Guess what? “You must own this item to write a Customer Review.”

Market Totalitarianism: No Mere Metaphor

They won’t stop until we stop them.  They can’t.  Their system requires it, fuels it, refines it, extends it.

No sphere is safe. The profit-seekers devour all they find as they race one another to get their super-size slice before the death of the ecosphere. Nothing sacred. No holds barred.  No boundaries hold.

The latest from Advertising Age:

“Reaching Consumers at Work Could Be Next Great Frontier”

Seems that even the airtight, scientifically managed dictatorships of the corporate workplace are being cracked ajar and scoured for a few more grains of mind-control over prospective product-purchasers:

Before they make a purchase, 93% of Americans consult their co-workers for advice, according to a new study from Big Research on socializing in the workplace.

The study from the independent consumer-research firm was conducted via WorkPlace Media’s “proprietary permission-based network” of over 920,000 U.S. companies across a variety of industries. WorkPlace is a media company that helps brands reach consumers at work.

The survey offered some interesting insight into how much people socialize at work. Of the 3,389 U.S. employees surveyed in the study, 68% admitted socializing with co-workers during work breaks, and another 42% said they phoned, texted or e-mailed friends and family from the office during the work day.

“It’s a traditionally advertising-free and uncluttered environment,” said Stephanie Molnar, CEO of WorkPlace Media, who quite naturally considers marketing to at-work consumers an effective way to build brand awareness.

Ms. Molnar recognizes that marketing to at-work consumers is in its infancy stages. She estimates that less than 10% of U.S. companies partake in it, but she thinks it’s a growing field. Ms. Molnar said the WorkPlace network reaches seven out of every 10 working Americans, which is more than the combined circulation of daily newspapers in the U. S.

“We’re finding that marketers we talk to are extremely intrigued by this opportunity,” she said.

They buy your work-time and tell you what to do on the job, no policy questions allowed. They offer you irrelavent, dim-bulb, focus-grouped, mud-slinging 30-second TV ads to help you choose between Corporate-D and Corporate-Dumb every four years. Then, they tell you your free time is what makes you free and what makes all the rest of it worthwhile.

Yet, all the while, they are throwing trillions at manipulating your every possible waking moment — even now at your job — to maximize their chance of selling your something of their own, exclusive, self-interested design, you and the rest of the planet be damned.

The degree of overclass effort, control, and waste would spin the heads of the most grasping and megalomaniacal of history’s pathetic pantheon of state-based totalitarians…


A cousin headline from today’s Ad Age:

Smartphones Could Fuel Surge in Video Gaming

Studies Reveal Growth Potential for In-game Ads

MPG Disinformation

Capitalists know only one solution to any problem: redoubled doses of the same old medicines.  The reign of the automobile and the auto-industrial complex is clearly doomed.  There is simply not enough energy in the world to make it last past roughly the middle of this century.

So, what do corporate car-marketers do? They heighten their efforts to misinform their “targets.”

The latest form of this trend is the change in the way car-capitalists state their miles-per-gallon claims in advertising. The old practice was to state two MPG ratings, one for city driving, the other for highway. So, my 1998 Toyota Corolla was advertised as having 32/41 MPG.

Now, in these increasingly dangerous end times for the automobile, the marketers have taken to simply shifting the city part of the MPG rating into the footnotes. Virtually all new ads that bother to mention MPG now only state the highway rating.

GM's Version

This is neither more nor less than planned disinformation, an intentional attempt to alter people’s access to and perceptions of vital information about products. Though you will never see this fact admitted in public, it is a standard method of big business marketing.

Capitalism, you see, is a just a well-disguised form of humanity’s 6,000-year run of pre-historic barbarism. A a social system, it is entirely of a piece with the older forms of class coercion that its apologists have long tried to distinguish it from.