What Works On Me
As far as ads are concerned, I like commercials that are witty, funny and cute. I like artistic or avant garde ads, meaning ads that aren’t formulaic and predictable; ads that surprise me with their format (or lack thereof.) Unfortunately, there aren’t many of those around. However, I also succumb to ads that reinforce my preferred self-image (as I once discussed in class: I like Ford trucks because they are FORD TOUGH.) However, I don’t feel as though these ads reach me without my conscious permission. When I’m watching an ad for a Ford truck, most often I’m actually thinking: Wow, these marketing guys are really bent on the demographic who buy trucks in order to feel stronger and more powerful… And then I consciously wonder what other types of people, like myself, are being drawn to these ads… And then I wonder if women – and, perhaps additionally, formerly-abused individuals – are a prime demographic for these ads. Looking around (here in Denver, at least), whenever I see someone in a truck, almost 4 out of 5 times it’s a woman. When I see that, I often wonder to myself if the woman I’m looking at is A) simply driving her husband/boyfriend’s vehicle, B) like me, drawn to the idea of owning a large vehicle to compensate – yes I admit it – for a frustrating inability to be physically/visually intimidating within their own bodies, or C) purchased the vehicle for practical reasons. Or did they succumb to peer pressure? Do they simply like the brand name? Were they looking for something cheap and this Ford tough truck was the first thing that popped up on Craigslist? Did someone well-meaning purchase the vehicle for her and she actually hates it?
I don’t think I’m the only ad-conscious individual in existence, nor do I believe I’m the only one who contemplates such things on a regular basis. I think most of us are conscious of how and why advertising works on us. I like things that make me feel tough. Some people like stuff that makes them feel smart, like a binary clock from thinkgeek.com. Some people like stuff that makes them feel as though they’re part of a certain group, such as iPods or Mac Laptops.
I was actually thinking about this very thing earlier today; I have an Alice in Wonderland purse. Why did I buy it? I think I actually bought it because, deep down inside, I want to let people know that I loved that movie. Maybe I’m really just trying to communicate with others. I want them to ask me if I like that movie, in the hopes that I can connect with someone else who liked it too. Then, once we have something in common, there is potential to engage in further conversation and there’s even the possiblity of a friendship as a result. All because of a $10 bag. Of course, when I’m buying the bag, I’m not thinking all that stuff. I’m just thinking: I really, really like Alice in Wonderland; watching that movie makes me feel all kinds of good and, to me, Alice represents important aspects of feminism and female independence. I want to possess this bag because it makes me feel good about myself as a woman who affiliates with Alice, a strong, smart, independent (however fictional) female character. I guess it goes a little farther than, “I like that bag,” but not much farther… but I feel as though I’m consistently aware of why I buy things – and I don’t think I’m the only one.
Name brands, on the other hand, do absolutely nothing for me. In fact, when I see someone sporting a brand name for the sake of the brand name itself, I feel incredulity at how in the world that person came to see such a thing as interesting or important – especially due to the inflated prices of such items. I, myself, have something of a phobia about it; I take pains to ensure that I do not appear to be one of those individuals by avoiding “prestigous” or well-known name brands altogether.
But I try to consciously avoid passing judgement on those who enjoy name brand items, since we’re actually quite similar creatures; we just ended up with different triggers. They probably think I’m perfectly asanine for believing in the empowering abilities of a pickup.
To each his own, and I think most of us know that we’ve been duped… but it’s the way of the capitalistic world, and most of us don’t seem to mind one bit.
How’s that for a rant?