Readings, Week 11

Advertising and Consumerism

  • Who are you advertising today? (externalizing advertising costs through “walking billboards”)
  • In the “big picture” of our society, what is the medium and what is the message?
  • How does advertising promote distraction, bread, and circuses?
  • How does advertising make us feel? Competent… attractive?
  • What are the main messages carried in advertising?
  • What evidence do you find that our society commodifies people?
  • How are people in our culture taught to be adult North Americans?  What consumer products are used to enculturate humans to be…  Americans?  …  men & women?  … consumers?
  • What is shock advertising?
  • How do you feel about censorship of commercials?  Should all subject matter be permitted in ads?

Explain how these experts/artists feel  about shock advertising and censorship…  Ed McCabe & Bill Tragos, Oliviero Toscani, Joe Pytka, Wim Wenders, Horst Wackerbarth, Richard Kirshenbaum, David Bowie, Harvey Keitel, Rabbi Henry Sobel

Oliviero Toscani

Q: How has Pink Floyd externalized their advertising costs when I wear my Pink Floyd hat?

Q: How is advertising a critical part of the “non-violent means” of world conquest?

Q: How does advertising promote distraction, bread, and circuses?

Q: In an advertisement is effective, how should I feel about myself after having watched it?


Q: Describe shock advertising.

Q: How do we become desensitized to allegedly shocking materials?

Q: What are your views on censorship?  Is there certain content that you believe should be censored?  Do you agree with Canadian law that content that sexualizes children or that spreads hatred against certain groups should be banned?

Q: Do you agree with British director Paul Weiland that attempts to create ads with the intention of getting them banned is “a little bit evil”?  Describe how such an intention is a form of externalization in advertising.

Q: In what way is censorship of explicit material in ads actually funnier (and thus more effective) than uncensored material? (clue: nude basketball).

Q: NEW: What do you foresee will be the future of advertising, considering that the limits of “shock” have already been more than exceeded? Discuss desensitization in this regard.

View “80 Extreme Advertisements that will Challenge Your Mind“:

Simon, Clea. Hooked.

Janus, Noreene. Cloning the Consumer Culture.

Swimme, Brian. How do our kids get so caught up in Consumerism?

Campbell, Kim  &  Kent Davis-Packard.  How ads get kids to say, I want it.

Cronk, R.  Consumerism and the New Capitalism.

Savan, Leslie. The Bribed Soul: Ads, TV and American Culture.

Reschke, Nadin. Semiotic Analysis of a Cosmetics Ad.

Schudson, Michael. Advertising: Hit or Myth?

Garey, Stephen. Brands R Us: How Advertising Works.

Berger, Arthur. How to analyze an advertisement.

CBC. The Selling Game.

Recommended viewing: Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook?