Posted on December 13, 2012 by zoeweil
I’m a big fan of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which I watch online because I don’t have a TV. One of the benefits of watching TV shows online is few commercials, but there are some. Recently, I’ve seen a series of ads for Dr. Pepper. The ads feature crowds of (mostly young) people wearing identical red shirts, most of which say “I’m one of a kind.”
As I’ve watched these commercials I’ve found myself wondering whether the irony is intended, cynical, or comic. Did the ad company that created the commercials realize the doublespeak they were producing, a creepy sort of mind control they seem to portray? Or did they actually believe that because Dr. Pepper is a different flavor of soda than most (“one of a kind” as their current slogan goes), that conformity in pursuit of uniqueness makes sense and would make sense to viewers?
Do viewers catch the irony? I sure hope so.
If not, there’s always humane education and its media literacy activities to the rescue. Let’s make sure that our kids know how to parse an ad, recognize doublespeak, and break free from others’ efforts to manipulate them.
Zoe Weil, President, Institute for Humane Education
Author of Most Good, Least Harm, Above All, Be Kind, and The Power and Promise of Humane Education
My TEDxConejo talk: “Solutionaries”
My TEDxDirigo talk: “The World Becomes What You Teach“
My TEDxYouth@BFS “Educating for Freedom”
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Filed under: humane education, media literacy | Tagged: advertising, commercials, conformity, critical thinking, humane education, identity, lesson plans, marketing, media literacy | Comments Off
Posted on March 20, 2009 by zoeweil
I grew up watching about 6 hours of TV per night. I always hated the commercials, and that’s when I’d do my homework or get something to eat. I was always amazed that companies wasted their money on ads because, I thought, who would believe them? In fact, I remember clearly thinking this about the Cascade (with sheeting action) ads in which a young couple, about to entertain, would take down their glasses, find them sullied with spots, and gasp in horror at the shame of it. They’d furiously clean them off lest their guests consider them truly uncouth. “Who are they kidding?!”, I would think.
A decade later, my future in-laws were coming over for dinner, and we took down our rarely-used wine glasses. You guessed it. Spots. I looked at them and wondered what his parents would think of me. Although I personally didn’t care about spotty glasses, I was uncertain about whether those spots really did reflect poorly on me. Would my boyfriend’s parents think their son was with a lousy housekeeper? I re-washed the glasses, and actually wondered whether Cascade would have prevented what I now perceived was a problem.
Never again have I doubted the power of advertising.
Take some time to notice commercials and advertising. Beyond the product or service, what are you being sold? What are the insidious effects on your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings? Then notice what is hidden from you: what effects do these products have on other people, the environment, animals? How can you resist, or (as the Borg in Star Trek say) is resistance futile? Should ads for unhealthy, unsustainable, destructive, or cruel products be illegal? Have restrictions? What do you think?
Filed under: consumerism, critical thinking, marketing | Tagged: advertising, commercials, consumerism, critical thinking, marketing, MOGO choices | 1 Comment »