The Engine of Idiocracy

tv idiocy

Here is an unsurprising headline:

Netflix is making a fourth ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ movie

Despite its superior emotional power – i.e., the main reason for its current ascendancy – video, as a medium, is quite narrow, as it lacks the capacity to bear much nuance and variation, compared with print and live interaction.

Add to this generic defect the fact that corporate capitalism imposes strict filters on media content, not the least of which is the crowding-out effect produced by its relentless multi-trillion-dollar flood of very pointed marketing-based sponsorship.

The overall result is a media ecology with an outflow every bit as shrunken and predictable as was that of the terrible old Socialist 1.x regimes.

It is pathetic, if not tragic — and also, of course, entirely undiscussed.

Items from the Ad Age Annual

Advertising Age has just published its annual review of the basic size and scope of the advertising industry in the year 2009.  As always, it includes some (though certainly not full) information about the size and scope of big business marketing, the wider managerial discipline of which advertising is but a part.

Some key pieces of information from this December 28, 2009 issue:

→Ad Age labels the economic conditions of the past year or so “the worst recession of your life,” and pronounces that “it is over.”  (See cover at left.)

From being sick and watching lots of TV this past week, I can assure you that this “it is over” mantra is now de rigeuer in corporate communications.  We shall see whether that’s accurate, or a rather major case of whistling in the graveyard.

→”Ad spending in 2009 suffered its sharpest drop since the Great Depression: -12.9%.  This recession also marked the first time since the 1930s that U.S. ad spending declined for two consecutive years.”

For what it’s worth, much of this historic decline reflected what Ad Age calls “a freefall in local advertising” due mostly to the decline of automobile dealership advertising.  This speaks to the continuing centrality of the auto-industrial complex within the corporate capitalist order.

→2009 saw “the first decline [in the overall revenue of the Top 100 media corporations] since Ad Age began ranking media firms in 1981.”

This fact is very powerful evidence of the ever-increasing penetration of commercial image-projection within everyday life in the United States.  No wonder TV addiction continues to worsen, despite the appalling awfulness, narrowness, and fourth-rate derivateness of the vast majority of commercial-media content.  (Spongebob, “Squid on Strike,” being a major exception!)

→Overall, marketing continues to grow faster (and decline later and less) than its advertising sub-component.   Ad Age reports that, while ad agency revenues shrank by 9.7 percent in 2009, those of “marketing services” firms fell by only 2.4 percent.

→Jobs in ad agencies are subject to the usual corporate capitalist logic:  While ad agency revenues fell by 9.7 percent in 2009, ad agency employment shrank by 14%!

Can you say “Investors first, last, and always!”?

→In 2009, employment in “marketing consulting” and public relations was 202,200, while it was only 161,500 in advertising agencies.

Again, this confirms that marketing tends to grow faster than advertising, which itself tends to grow faster than the overall economy.

→For 2009, Ad Age estimates total U.S. advertising spending by the Top 100 advertisers was $102.6 billion.  That is more than two-thirds of total ad spending in the U.S., which Ad Age pegs at just under $150 billion.