Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Odin's Ravens: Advertizing and Public Relations

A chat about the invidious nature of Advertizing, which in turn was spawned by a discussion of Stan Freeburg, the famously talented, iconoclastic maverick ad writer/producer whose career included several recorded comedy routines...

...led me once again to the nexus of advertizing and public relations, with which I have had both practical and scholarly experience, having for a time studied and taught at the journalism school at a major southern university, subsequent to having spent 10 years doing both of them along with some journalism.

It was, I thought--and said, perhaps impolitically, too loudly and too often, given my remarkably junior status in the school--both indicative and emblematic of the problem with the relationship between 'the disciplines' the school represented and the influences that seek and sought to control and/or corrupt them that the family which controlled the biggest chunk of media outlets in that region, and was a huge player in advertizing had also arranged to have their name attached to the J'School, too...

In the late 60 and early 70s, Stan Freeberg got into a LOT of trouble with the media/advertizing/pr establishment for stating for the record that OF FUCKING COURSE all that advertising is designed to stimulate demand... I am sure it is recorded somewhere, cuz I heard it on a radio. It was regarded at the time as calamitous, because the patina of neutrality was valuable.

Up to that time, and also to a great extrent ever since, the media/advertisisng/pr mavens univocally claimed that their products were merely to supplyinformation that the customer demanded...They were emphatically NOT intended to influence consumer behavior; they were NOT written to provoke certain acts. This was an important issue in the era when tobacco litigation was beginning to be fought, because it would be evidence of pre-meditated malfeasance if cigarette mfgrs could be shown to be actually inducing smokers to use a dangerous product...You see how important this distinction was (and still is).

(It was patent bulllshit, as everyone knew....But the M/A/PR pigfuckers continued in their sham forever...You'll still hear claims of the neutrality of the media and the innocence of the advertizer every day in media seminars in j' and b' schools...I knew a couple of relatively nice people who kept themselves living quite comfortably, in tenured jobs, because they had that story down so well...)

Until Stan Freeberg blew the whistle, mebbe in a Playboy interview...It gave folks in the media academy a case of the vapors to which they are still subject...If ever you get into it with a dedicated, orthodox advertising/pr prof, you can just about cause apoplexy merely by dropping Freeberg's name into the conversational hopper...

Advertizing and Public relations are not identical, but both are septs of the same discourse...


PR amounts to not much more than 'brand'/corporate advertizing.
All of it is a division of the larger public project called propaganda...
Advertizing is product propaganda.pr is bureaucratic advertizing.

Edward Bernays, Freud's favorite nephew, embedded his uncle's insights into his profitable and influential step-child as early as the second decade of the last Century. Wilson appropriated them all as tools of the official US War Department propaganda bureacracy.

John Dos Passos devotes one of the three novels in his USA trilogy to the phenomena of the victory of corporate propaganda over private truth....

Since the 50s scholars (e.g., Ellul, 1961?) have pointed out that propaganda is the only way by which the state is capable of communicating with its constituents...

1 comment:

charley said...

money doesn't talk, it swears.

very interesting post.