Tag Archives: advertising


Recently, I got yet another email from Adbusters in my inbox. Normally this is merely inconvenient, since I’ve unsubscribed from them at least three times, and delete it. But something about the subject line pulled me in and I opened it to see this:

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I’m livid. A major aim of Adbusters is to educate Americans about when they’re being manipulated by advertising — so important that busting the Ad industry is right in their name. It’s a great goal, and Adbusters does many other great things: they organized Buy Nothing Day, and promote Buy Nothing Christmas.

But here’s the thing: you don’t get to boycott Christmas, and then use the same holiday to fund-raise for yourself.

You don’t get to condemn Santa and then use him to pull in cash (and I’m not even a fan of Santa).

You don’t get to convince me to not spend money, and then ask me for money.

You don’t get to tell me to not spend money specifically on gifts that my family wants, and then ask me to spend money to give them a gift of your product (let’s not pretend that this magazine is anything other than product sold for profit, no different from the book my father-in-law wants or the Cosmo magazine my sister reads).

You don’t get to wish me a “corpo-free holiday” at the end of the email from “everyone at Adbusters”– itself a corporation! Does size alone determine whether a corporation is worthy of my dollars (indeed, worthy of existence) or not? What is the tipping point? Is it measured in dollars or employees? WorldVision is huge and does lots of good; Adbusters maybe tiny, but without integrity.

There is so much bullshit here. Buy Nothing for Christmas, sure, but certainly don’t buy into a manipulative a deceitful Adbusters. At least be honest about what you’re doing, corpo–it’s what you want from Kraft and Phillip Morris.

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not buying it

I just got my Crate & Barrel Holiday Inspiration 2012 catalogue in the mail. Not that I wait for it, but it shows up, so I flip through it.

The first page has a big heading—Home&Holidays—followed by a letter from the president. It feels more like a magazine than a catalogue, and her words encourage the reader to believe that this publication is more than a giant advertisement. “The pages that follow are not only a guide to our new collection, but a celebration of the experiences we have shared in our homes at this special time of the year.” I don’t hate this. Actually, I don’t even entirely disagree with it. My own home is arranged in such a way that (I hope) it is inviting, warm, relaxing. It’s just stuff, sure, but the stuff as much as my husband and I’s demeanor helps our guests feel comfortable and at home.

What I do hate is the juxtaposition of sections of this catalogue. Adding to the magazine feel, the editors divided the catalogue into sections with heartwarming titles such as “Love&Light” and “Friends&Giving”. The first of these is “Grandpa&Grandson.” Two men are shown lounging on leather furniture on either side of a fireplace, with close-ups on scotch glasses and whisky decanters. There are no pressures on these men: they appear relaxed, both with mid-conversation smiles.

The next section is “Mom&Daughter”. No leather, booze, or relaxation here. The one shot of the woman and girl show them focused on cookie decorating. Many of the shots have snippets of busy hands, blurred in activity as the photographer’s lens attempts to capture their work. The section is pages of baking items—mixers, ramekins, rolling pins—and finishes its last page with dishtowels, no doubt to carefully dry all the scotch glasses used in the next room.

Which raises the question: What are we really being sold?

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