Friday, September 30, 2011

More on Marketing Mind Control: Are we all Zombots Yet?

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. AND TO RENDER THEM SAFE, THEIR MINDS MUST BE IMPROVED." - Thomas Jefferson, 'Notes on Virginia'.

In an earlier blog I discussed the insidious nature of PR and sowing false consciousness,

And the ways the Overclass of government, business and its offshoot PR-men and hack marketeers use this subtle mind manipulation to sow a classless mentality that inveighs against one's own economic and socio-political self interest. In addition, I referred to Edward Bernays famous quotation that this "unseen mechanism of society constitutes an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country.”

I also briefly cited Douglas Rushkoff's book, COERCION, that details the psycho-dynamic basis for how most of us become puppets at the end of the strings manipulated by the Overclass and their associated marionettes. Central to Rushkoff's thesis is a process called "the Gruen Transfer". Without its initiation and consolidation within a fertile brain, arguably no American would become a marketer's zombie puppet. Alas, most of our citizenry, unread as they are (and with too short attention spans induced by over obsession with social ties on Facebook, etc.) aren't aware of how the Gruen Transfer takes over their mind in any situation. To read Rushkoff's book, therefore, is at once like reading the most horrific of Dennis Wheatley's "Devil" novels, while being brutally exposed to how our society really runs.

I never believed the power of the Gruen Transfer until I once asked a marketing acquaintance if it could actually be conceivable an American could be so market-tethered that he or she would need to consult an advert before even taking a dump. Her response? "Of course! Hell, they would definitely wish to know whether the cool thing is to use Charmin or remain a poor douche and putz using some generic brand of toilet paper! If you have to do your business at least you need to end it special!"


I had a hard time swallowing this until coming across a recent article in The Economist ('Hidden Persauders II', Sept. 24, p.80), which of course cops its title based on the much earlier work 'The Hidden Persuaders', by Vance Packard. A book I believe every member of Generation X, Y and Z ought to read very carefully, if you can get it on your Kindles! That book, from over fifty years ago, showed the power of the marketing empire even then. But if Packard was alive now, he'd have his fifities' era mind blown to smithereens at what he'd behold.

Of course, I can still recall some of the ads Packard noted from that era, and I agree with The Economist's take that most of the templates (for a guy looking at say, a Brylcreem advert) could be reduced to "Buy it and get laid". The basic operation was to quickly detach the conscious mind and interject the lizard brain long enough to make the purchase based on the lizard's needs. Never mind one's rational centers knew the mere application of Brylcreem wouldn't get one "laid"!

But before our current populace howls with derision at such naivete maybe it needs to back up and take stock, and note it's nowhere near as detached from puppet-strings as it believes. For example, how many are aware that the use of the new links capability for Facebook actually delivers your name, info to many more greedy marketeers? You think Facebook is just 'free' and you can roam, and put up stuff on your 'wall' and friend to your heart's content without a marketing hawk looking over your shoulder? If so, you're more naive than we were with the old Brylcreem ads.

The Economist also references how assorted "market guerillas" prowl the social networks, in order to generate "buzz" that ropes in the needy eyes, and claims gullible brains. One company referenced (ibid.) is "the Girls Intelligence Agency" which employs some 40,000 girls to act as 'guerilla marketers', sowing buzz for assorted products - in return for which services they get free products and "everything they need to organize a slumber party". Of course, the slumber party then delivers the perfect captive audience which features an assortment of all the buzzed products which each guest is invited to try out. Refuse to buy after getting such an invite? That would be uncool!

The most bizarre marketers' conquest - according to The Economist - is evidently the American male. Once proud of his rugged self, and no dandy - he's evidently now been convinced to purchase "female products" for his own use! This is a result of "marketers devoting much more effort to marketing to men to ...get them to shop like women".. Are you f-ing kidding me? Yet The Economist goes on:

"In 1995, only 53% of American men admitted to shopping for themselves. That figure has now risen to 75% with many now buying traditional female products. The marketers created a $27 billion male grooming industry from nothing by bombarding men with images once meant for women .." The new items on the new male's shelves evidently include depilatories, eye liner, special moisturizers for body, face and hands, and "novel fragrances". Cheez whiz! Back in the 60s the most adventurous you ever got as a young male was maybe using Jade East!

At this point one is justified in asking how these marketing types can get guys - presumably red blooded Americans- to emulate females by buying female products? Again, it's the Gruen Transfer. I will only touch on it here since the extensive process in different mental milieus is better left for Rushkoff's great book. Basically, however, it means a passive and docile mental state wherein the person is most susceptible to the force of advertising persuasion. In this state, higher cognitive centers remain inactive, and the person acts totally on the suggestion that buying product X, Y or Z will somehow make one's life better.

As Rushkoff notes (p. 212):

"(The key) is the moment of confusion. In that moment of confusion- the buyer is subjected to a dissociative hypnotic trance (by the focus of the advert)- the consumer absorbs the image within the image."

In this case, what the marketers of the female products to men had to accomplish is to get males, as the putative consumers, to absorb the image of themselves using female products within the glitzy images the marketers presented.

Rushkoff goes on:

"That's all coercion really is, after all: convincing a person to lie to himself by any means necessary. The stance of ironic detachment, while great for protecting ourselves for straightforward linear stories and associations, nonetheless makes us vulnerable to more sophisticated forms of influence.."

The Economist also notes the real bottom of the barrel scraping is the marketers' decision to recruit children. They do this because they understand that "the little monsters have the remarkable ability to nag their parents (whom they call 'wallet carriers') into buying what they want" Another good reason to choose not to have any kids? Maybe! Why introduce a fifth columnist marketeer into your home to try to drumbeat you into incessant purchases?

We know also that people online are tracked incessantly using cookies, but citizens are also tracked when they do ordinary mortar and walls shopping, say in Malls. Thus, marketers "routinely track shoppers as they make their way around supermarkets and listen in on their conversations at the counter". (Ibid.)

According to author Erik Larson (The Naked Consumer, p. 167):

"It isn't enough for companies to know precisely what we buy, what we watch, and how many advertisements we encounter. They want to know how we consume. How do we comport ourselves in the aisles of our grocery stores?"

Larson himself also notes how consumer monitors in stores regularly refer to consumers as "grazing like cattle"(ibid.). A recent article about brand names in The Wall Street Journal casually ruminated about "branding" consumers from the earliest ages. That is, insinuating deep product preferences into their brains, preferably from age two or earlier.

Are most people aware they are being relentlessly tracked and studied like prey- or better- "grazing cattle"? Hardly. Should we be aware? Probably. Why? Because by having awareness - and displaying it - we become more than the passive, stupid 'consuming cattle' they want us to be. Don't think so? Then consider this remark made to author Larson, by one of these 'tracker handlers' (op. cit., p. 181):

'No one ever notices. Ever. Consumers shop like in a trancelike state like 'idly grazing animals"

Perhaps the grossest atrocity is when marketers and their corporate purveyors disgustingly contaminate street protests designed to be motivationally pure (e.g. beyond the grasp of advertising) and in the interests of advancing the welfare of the society. Such has been the case with the recent Wall St. protests by hundreds of young people. But did the protestors' own branding and predispositions put them at risk of being mocked in the corporo-media and their objectives diminished? The Wall Street Journal headline on p. A6 (Sept. 28) tells it all:

'Down With Wall Street, But Keep the Pizza Coming!"

Thus, the protest purity is itself hostage to the need for food, and what food is more convenient than Pizza? Trouble is, if it comes from a large franchise (say Herman Cain's Godfather Pizza, or Domino's) then the protestors become more known for their dependence on corporate fast food than the nobility of their protests.

Maybe it's past time I teach these guys to harvest their own granola and nibbles before launching out on street protests near the heart of capitalist piracy.

In the end, the job of all of us - street protestors or not- is to police our own minds and do it continuosly and rigorously to ensure we aren't taken hostage by the Gruen Transfer, especially in the field of American politics.

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