Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Blog 9

We were given chapter 7 of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing to read. In this chapter he speaks about the effectiveness of publicity and how it works and relies on spectators being slightly unhappy in them selves. “The purpose of publicity is to make the spectator marginally dissatisfied with his present way of life” and buying what is on offer will improve ones life. Berger also talks about how dynamic advertisements are, they are bigger than us “…continually passing us, like express trains on their way to some distant terminus. We are static…” Despite this we as the consumer still have control, we can turn off the tv or radio and throw away the newspaper, publicity’s job is to stop us from ignoring it. Publicity also references oil painting and quite profoundly, an example Berger gave was Dejeuner sur L’herbe by Manet which was placed along side a publicity image that mimics Manets’ painting from the 1800’s almost exactly. Berger says that people in the publicity images are enviable because they’ve been transformed (as the consumer will be) by the product being advertised. “The state of being envied is what constitutes glamour. And publicity is the process of manufacturing glamour”. Basically, glamour sells the idea of a new and better lifestyle but makes the consumer worse off having spent their money on a desire/fantasy. I do however, know of a style of publicity that doesn’t use glamour and which Berger doesn’t talk about (maybe Ways of Seeing needs updating) and it involves shocking the spectator. The prime example of this would be the campaigns in the early 90’s.Produced by United Colours of Benetton. The clothing company produced images and donned them with their logo but didn’t out-rightly advertise the intended articles. Images included a black woman breast feeding a white baby, the grieving family with an AIDS victim on his deathbed and a priest kissing a nun. The reason that these shots worked was that they kept the potential buyer talking about the company and they probably would’ve said “Well who are these people?” searched them out, focused on the clothing and possibly bought something or spoke to their friends about these shocking images and they bought something. For me this type of advertising works better as I have no desire to try and improve my life by spending money.

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