Consumer Culture and the Manufacturing of Desire

Last session we each presented our search, I was not keen on showing mine because I felt I had not achieved or gained anything from my findings at the time. However I found the session really useful, receiving feedback from my lecturer and peers in order to help point me and my search into a much more interesting direction.

I started off by looking briefly into consumer societies and the function of advertising; In the wake of the industrial revolution and the early twentieth century mass production raised, and a consumer society emerged. There was an enormous assortment of overproduced goods, characteristics of those goods changing constantly and repetition prevailed.

One of advertisers’ primary strategies is to turn a product into a recognisable brand. Having a well-known, highly visible advertising campaign for a long period of time will grows together a well-established brand name. “In order for product to be turned into a brand, an advertisement must first add value to it.”

Some advertisements however advertise the general product rather than the brand, using images of celebrities to promote consumption. The idea of using celebrities aims to give the product glamour attributes of the celebrity.
Advertisements present therapeutic ideology, presenting well-known celebrities and figures of glamour in order to sell products; promising if they consume the advertised product “it will improve their lives”. These figures are presented with who appear happy, without any flaws and have perfect bodies, which is somewhat unattainable, who are enviously looked at by consumers.

Advertising presents social values, looking at life as it should be, often presenting an image of things to be desired. Ideologies about what the good life is, advertisements speak to consumers in a way that promises and inviting consumers to imagine themselves potential places and ideal and imagined future worlds. The enviable world of advertising is presented to customers that this life is attainable through consumption.

I have also looked briefly into the value of products in this sense; not for what they really do, but for what they’re worth in abstract monetary terms. A couple of examples would be a Louis Vuitton handbag and Chanel perfume, and the demand to replicate these products, producing fake versions, that consumers buy not for the value of the product, but for the ‘brand’ itself.

Further to my research I also began looking into social meanings and status’; Perfumes carry connotations that consumers supposedly acquire when purchasing and wearing them. Chanel No. 5 signifies wealth and class, whereas Calvin Klein represents a sexual status. Advertisements for these encourage consumers that they will acquire these statuses through purchasing the products.

I would now like to continue my search, looking deeper into things I have come across on my search; the history and mass production or products, consumer society, consumer culture, the creative revolution, ideologies, celebrity endorsement, commodities, the marxist theory, commodity fetishism, pseudoindiviuality, juxtapositions and semiotics.

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