It's an axiom of academic deconstructicons that advertising is a window on society, but it's more accurate to say advertising is society's window on you.i And, looking at it this way, it becomes evident that society thinks you're an idiot.ii Allow me to elaborate.
You've probably never seen this ad, not because it isn't played constantly, but because your mind self-defensively blocks traumatic images from consciousness. Stop acting like a 3rd grade girl at japanese horror marathon and force yourself to look carefully.iii
I feel like I need to watch The Little Mermaid to detox. Ok, let's go through it, were all the key demos represented?
It's easy to think that the ads are designed to draw in the demo shown in the ads, but that's not the way advertising worksiv, and consequently that's not how America works. If you're watching it, it's for you. These ads play heavy during late and late late night talk shows: the target is boring middle aged white people.v Blackberry isn't targeting gays and limber blondes, it's pretending they are already on board so you don't feel like a dork without a touch screen.vi
In other words, the target is the uptight khakis and Polo salarymen who are otherwise tempted to defect to the iphone/Android as a last ditch attempt at reassuring themselves that the person they were at 20 is still alive in there, underneath the carbgut.
And you can't be subtle with that demo, the message has to detonate like an Athens mailbomb. Here's another Blackberry ad, showing a completely unposed, random human being talking about how he uses the Blackberry to promote his business:
I heard that, yo. But the phone is white and he talks white, so he's ok. "Oh my God, you're such a racist jerk, and a misogynist and a homophobe." Umm, would you mind calling back on a landline? Your iphone is breaking up.
It is an irrelevant coincidence that minorities already purchase more blackberrys than iphones.vii It doesn't matter to the Dave Mathews fan what they actually buy, what matters is what the image of them buys, and that image, because it does not exist in real life, has to be communicated, not observed. Hence ads.viii
The point isn't that the iphone isn't cool, or useful, or a superior productix, the point is that the demo blackberryx is worried about are the ones who secretly worry their phone also brands them. Cool= black and gay, even if you hate black and gay, which you do, which is why they're in the ads. You hate them because you're envious of their freedom, affluence, seeming lack of responsibility, their easy dialogue with sexuality or power, their casual wardrobes.
Hence also the gay guys. You might think gay decorators with bead bracelets are not ideal aspirational images for office workers, but that's why you're in sales and not marketing. What matters is the image: how awesome would it be if your sexual proclivities could be an overt 90% of your identity?xi Add also the evident self-care, self-absorption, and throw in a partner who doesn't nag and is willing to play along. "Sounds ideal," he replies as he pours utility coffee into an 8oz styrofoam cup. That ideal (we are told) buys Blackberrys, so it's okay if you do, too.
"What planet are you on? Heteros already broadcast their sexuality!" Oh no they don't, not the ones who drink light beers, ask them. Ask them if they don't feel like they have to keep their sexuality suppressed all the time, that they "can't even compliment a woman on her dress" without a trip to HR. They think gay men get a pass on displaying lust, not to mention getting their own parade. It is this perception that makes flamboyant gay men the correct casting for advertising directed at people who cringe at the sight of flamboyant gay men. They know you better than you know yourself. Strike that: they know the lies you tell yourself better than you.xii
As a marketing strategy this is, of course, doomed to failure. Your Dad can't tell you he's cool, he has to show you he's cool, and he can't because he's your Dad, end of story. Blackberry can't commandeer images to push their agenda, anymore than your Dad can put on a Raiders cap sideways and say, "yo, yo, yo, all my homies agree that abstinence is da bomb!" He has to come at you as Dad, because that's what he is, regardless of what he says he is, anything else is immediately dismissed as a trick.
Blackberry's only chance is to invent an awesome phone, which they can't because they're Canadian (too drunk to do science.)
But Blackberry's market penetration isn't my concern. What interests me is the collateral damage of these ads, of advertising in general.xiii All ads which sell a product inadvertently sell another product, and that product is identity, and they sell it better than their own product. Using these images won't/can't convince you that Blackberry is cool, but they have inadvertently convinced you that these images are cool, that these are the standards of cool. Pick and choose what parts you envy. "Not me! I think for myself!" Of course you do, of course you do.———
- So it is, at that! [↩]
- Well, not anymore than the horny dog humping your leg thinks you're its bitch. Society doesn't think, it's not an agent, it doesn't have a brain. Society just is, much like a garbage dump just is. You can't say "the garbage dump really loves garbage", because there's no agency involved. It's not the case there was a plot of land that was a garbage dump and because of this pre-existent being it attracted garbage therefore fulfilling itself. The place called a garbage dump got called a garbage dump after all the garbage got dumped there. It's retrospective labeling not projective realisation that's at work.
Society is just the shit that's left behind after enough hominids cease being people, and consequently it's not so much that society thinks all its component dregs are idiots, but rather that the existence of society in the first place is predicated on a sufficient concentration of perambulatory dregs. It's a safe bet, so to speak, that if the dog's humping you you're a bitch, much like it's a safe bet that if society's advertising at you, you're an idiot. [↩]
- There was a youtube link in here, but I'm not embedding youtube crap, so you'll have to do without. [↩]
That's not how advertising works anymore, because economy died.
As the economic utility, marginal productivity, capacity for extracting/enacting meaning upon the environment and in general mental health of the population crossed the event horizon (also represented as 0 on a graph), the substance, appearance, functioning and meaning of economic mechanisms changed.
Consider the more approachable example of gastric or pancreatic enzyme secretion. These substances aid in the digestion of food ; but should a stab wound open the gastric pouch into the abdominal cavity, or should gallstones block physiologic effluence, the very same enzymes now digest... the body! Exactly similarily, back before winning/losing (the two are, contrary to what you might've heard, perfectly indistinct) the Great Patriotic War, back when people still clung to their sanity and therefore were capable of extracting meaning from the environment and therefore capable of imposing meaning upon the environment, this capacity was also enacted into phenomenology and in so being enacted it necessarily had a rate of enactment, and therefore advertising attempted to signal and organize activity.
But not anymore. [↩]
- Male boring middle aged white people. [↩]
- Absolutely, the idea of the add isn't "hey, come over, there's others just like you here", but contrairiwise, "it's okay to stay, those other kinds of people you've never actually met are nevertheless also here, just around that corner". Sorta like how orphans' night clubs show pictures of girls : not to attract the girls. To make the sausages at the sausage fest more comfortable while they #nohomo together. [↩]
- But still interesting. How come minorities are always and everywhere and all the time fucked in the head ? Always in the slower boat, at the lamer party, always taking water, always scrounging... [↩]
- Absofuckinglutely. [↩]
- The iphone wasn't, actually, a superior product, not at any juncture in its marketing history.
Patent medicine also wasn't a superior product ; notwithstanding it's been "reinventing" itself into exactly the same fixed forms since before the 80s. The 1880s. [↩]
- He means, "the demo RIMM, the makers of BlackBerries, are worried about". [↩]
- Which is why "gay" aka boring dorks pretend so insistently "everyone else" cares oh-so-very-deeply about their gayness, all the stories of "oppression" and "struggle" are transparently if insistently testimonials, to that only important point -- that all other people not merely give a fuck (which they don't), but care, and deeply (which they absolutely also don't). Because if all other people care about the boring dork being gay, therefore the boring dork won't ever have to tell a joke -- a boring story about how a waiter once will do just as well (by which we mean, just as poorly). [↩]
- I can definitely see it. After all, you sell cocaine to churchgoing teenagers by displaying twentysomething sluts naked in hotel rooms. [↩]
- It still should be banned. [↩]