Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ponder: "investing products with transcendence"

"Ad executive Douglas Atkin notes that a transformation has taken place in what's expected of the typical ad executive at a major corporation: rather than being responsible for design, packaging, and promotion, the brand manager is now asked to 'create and maintain a whole meaning-system for people through which they get identity and an understanding of the world.' Advertising is asked to induce devotion by investing products with transcendence.  So Atkin asked himself, What makes people exhibit cult-like devotion?  He thus undertook a study of cults precisely in order to figure out how brands could induce 'loyalty beyond reason.' When he heard people rhapsodize about sneakers of paper plates in terms that he described as 'evangelical,'  he realized that people join brands for the same reason they join cults and religions: to make meaning...The goal of such marketing, this (very secular) documentary concludes, is 'to fill the empty places where non-commercial institutions like schools and churches might have once done the job.' They amount to 'an invitation to a longed-for lifestyle."

James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom.

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