It seems almost quaint, now that popular culture is riddled with knowing, self-referential nods to itself, but the aim of advertising used to be straightforward: to associate a product in a literal and direct way with positive images of a desirable, aspirational life. How we chortle at those rosy-cheeked families that dominated commercials in the post-war era. Nowadays, we adopt the slogans and imagery as ironic home decor — wartime advertisements for coffee adorn our kitchen walls; retro Brylcreem posters are pinned above the bathroom door. But our reappropriation of artefacts from a previous era of consumerism sends a powerful message: we wouldn’t be swayed by such naked pitches today.
Satire has long been acknowledged as a paradoxical crutch for a society’s existing power structures: we laugh at political jibes, and that same laughter displaces the desire for change…
We all like to think that we’re above the dark art of advertising; that we are immune to its persuasive powers. But the reality is that, though we might have been immunised, it is not against ads: it is against dissent.
How advertising turned anti-consumerism into a weapon
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December 4, 2013
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