Glitz, Glam and Greed – The World of Advertising

22 Feb

As you can see I haven’t done any posts the last few days due to other work issues, but I’m here now to recall some more things that has happened over the past week.

Last Monday (14/02/2011) in our Packaging & Branding lesson we watched a video called Ways of Seeing, presented by John Berger, an English art critic. To be honest, I never heard of this man until I watched the video, which I personally found quite interesting at the end. In advertising, there is the hint of  glamour, the manufacturing process used to manipulate the mind into making us want things and buy them, even when we don’t need them. The reason is that it’s to make us feel richer in possession, but unfortunately poorer in the pockets. It is used to make us believe we will have a better life with it although we may not use it at all, but it is an item which is worth the such money we are willing to part ways with. However, it can only achieve such radiance of possession, and when a new updated version of that product comes on the shelves, a new emotion of complete envy is born watching others have the item you want, giving us the anxiety to buy and spend more no matter the consequences, just so we feel wanted and appealing towards the people who “hold” glamour. And those who aren’t, become faceless and excluded.

Advertising is in itself, a work of art. Some adverts make you completely mesmerised, and become inquisitive to what the product is, whilst some make you pick up the television remote to switch the channel over. But the use of fine art in advertising is somewhat perplex, however, when looking more closely into it, you notice certain aspects of the images that are referenced from such artistry. Gestures, poses, objects, they’re all positioned in a way that is similar to that of a fine art painting. This portrays the different life you can have and the wealth you may “show” if you buy the product, which I’m sure that almost all of us have fallen into this trap many times.

Publicity works greatly on the imagination, having objects being made glamorous and more exotic or appealing (e.g. a beautiful woman holding a drink), making us feel this is the life that we should all aspire to, allowing us to dream of being a part of it and being in a faraway place, taking away the everyday problems that we face for just a few moments.

Even though these advertisements allows us to escape reality into unreality, we get hit into reality again, realising the true aspect of advertising and how there is such a strong contrast and disconnection between the two ‘realities’. The language and images on paper all seem to be real, but between each page there is an image completely opposite to the one you are originally viewing. These images would be hard-hitting, ‘play with the conscience’ ones.

In relation to the video, it shows of a dead body with flies and a woman holding a young baby in distress. When looking at an advertisement or a more ‘attractive’ image beforehand, then looking at the realistic images, it causes the mind to become distressed so as a defence mechanism the body ‘backs off’ and the mind does not want to linger on the images, ignoring the fact that there are such disasters in the world. Whereas if you saw a dead cat on a road (like I did a few months back), the image of that in itself is very powerful and is clearly remembered for days, or even weeks at an end. When I first saw those images of the people on the video, my first reaction was to look down as I couldn’t bear to look at the expressions and how distressed they were. It did stay on my mind for a while, but now I only remember them every time I think of this video.

What I’m trying to get across, though, is how easily forgotten these things are. As my tutor mentioned to us, he felt more affected with the portrayal of these people because of seeing executions/killings as live broadcasting and these type of images based on poverty that affects the mind even to this day. With this stuff, some people urge themselves into wanting to do something to help. Nowadays, however, especially in my generation and perhaps even younger, some teenagers and young adults may not be as affected by them as one will want them to be, therefore being ‘used’ to them. Media perhaps plays a part in this, where before it wasn’t able to publicise as much as it wanted, causing people not to get much access into having this knowledge. But now, almost every day the problems are mentioned in one form of media or another, asking people to donate or help the causes through yearly charity events. This, in the end, makes people become accustomed to it, ignoring the pledges and the real need of helping others. But unless it hits at home, we mainly ignore the fact poverty is always around us and unfortunately we continuously act on our greed of wanting more materialistic items, whether it be for consumption or pleasure, we will always want something new to add to our wish lists.

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