by Martin "Eudoxus" Hlavacek
Is our collective memory but the mere spoils of corporate war? Are we not the veritable Sunday Roast to be carved up by the pompous corporations and multi-nationals?
Thought, inner, private, individual thought is no longer the domain of the individual. Like a plot of seemingly vacant land it too has been put on auction. The value’s astronomical and the prize goes to the highest bidder, and guess what? You’re caught in the middle of it, and there is not a single thing that can be done about it. What very memories, feelings and scraps of knowledge you thought belonged to you, are now subject to the dissection and whim of curiosity of the world.
So who or what do we have to thank for this?
Well firstly, and obviously technology, and closely followed by the people who manipulate it. Technology, especially in the form of media has served to educate and to inform for thousands of years. From the humble “Caution, Slippery Surface” sign, to the great written tomes of the Bible and Qur’an. These all served to educated and inform on a mass scale. Now education and information has changed face completely. Instead of educating for the sake of learning and the betterment of the individual, it is education for the material return of the educator (that being the greedy pig-like capitalist). This modern form of propagating an idea has transpired into forming part of an Orwellian sounding concept known as “Mindshare”.
What the f*ck is ‘Mindshare?
The concept of “Mindshare” at its very base is this, it is the investment of capital (money) placed into educating or informing the consumer (you) of particular products or consumables (stuff you buy).
Furthermore ‘Mindshare’ is the so-called ‘stake’ the corporations lay claim to, on an individuals thoughts as a result of the investment. In laymen’s terms, branding a chunk of your brain.
Give us an example
These “Mindshared” thoughts manifest themselves externally by influencing the targeted individuals behavioral characteristics. These could be little things like personal taste/preference, reaction too and opinionated verbal dialogue when encountering “Invested” consumables, be they in a conversation or out in a shopping centre. Furthermore, all people who live in capitalist Western Society are exposed to consumerist marketing strategies and therefore exhibit different degrees of “Mindsharedness”. Another aspect to consider is an individuals socio-demographic background, which is inherentley proportional to their “Mindshare” susceptibility. For the sake of this story, we’ll keep it to the upper-middle class late teenage category.
An example of this is two friends arguing about two different Cola brands, each basing their reasoning behind the belief that their preferred brand of Cola is superior. Both are male, and of similar age, only thing separating them is their interests and cultural background. This also reflects the way in which they react and respond the corporate stimuli (ads). So then what you’re left is just cultural difference. Through that difference is then the mode of exploit. An African-American youth is more likely to gravitate toward marketing campaigns that figure Afro-American icons. People connect with culture, what mindshare does, is to break that cultural link between society and community, then simultaneously reinstate itself as that link. Thereafter people, who formerly swore allegience to community and heritage, now rally under the new banner on ‘Mindshare’. Furthermore, traditionally people would identify themeselves in terms of nationalism, religion and beliefs, yet the modern trend is to identify oneself in terms of material wealth, and to what brands one affiliates themselves with (motor cars for example).
What’s it doing to me?
To elaborate of the breakdown of cultural lineage through the process of ‘Mindshare’, Consumerist tactics broaden further to that of the branding of youth to instill corporate ideological meaning. For example with the case of youth gangs, which generally tend to exclusively affiliate themselves with one clothing label. Establishing aethestic identity and uniformity from therein, ‘Mindshare’ plants it’s roots deep and early in the youngest generations, as they offer the path of less resistance, and therefore are a much more viable resource in terms of profitablitly.
How’s it work?
How does this work? To answer this you must alternately ask, “how does something so trivial and crappy manage to imbed itself into my inner sub-conscious and stay with me day and night for eternity!? Right, when you’ve finally settled down, and got that stupid cordial jingle out of your head, read on. The insidousness of “Mindshare” works on a multitude of levels. To understand it one must be familiar with the principles of mass-markerting and learning (absorption of information).
Firstly with advertising as with learning, assume the audience cannot put two syllables together, that way you know your message will be understood by a greater scope of people. Make sure that whatever you are saying is simple. Such as “Buy now!” rather than saying something log-winded like, “Purchase, this most exquisite piece of cornucopia immediately” which will undoubtedly leave the audience bewildered and uttering “huh” in an all too stupefying monosyllabic fashion.
Dumb it down, keep it short, simple.
REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION.
True first impressions do last, but dickheads who continually aggravate you stay etched into your synapses longer than that really nice person who generously donated two dollars to you after you lost your wallet that night after hitting the piss, and couldn’t get home the next morning.
Or how about your multiplication tables, you learnt in primary school. It still sticks with you today, admittedly the human brain is an incredible machine in theory, capable of performing so many operations and has slightly more space than a floppy disk blah blah blah…
Realistically, people cannot remember their own phone number or middle name unless its been drummed into them through extraneous use or if its been written on their hand.
It takes a lot of skill to be able to pick something up the first time, for the majority of the sunken masses it can take quite a while for even the capital city of Australia to sink in.
Remember that to make something memorable, make it unique, ‘different’ from the competition. Although that statement is a contradiction within itself, as philosophically, to be different in the realm consumerism is to consequently wind up being the same anyway.
Now that those first few bases of “Mindshare” have been covered, let’s move on to the real cloak and dagger principles that make “Mindshare” what it is. As mentioned earlier “Mindshare” is not a tangible thing but a culmination of a various number of thoughts, things and concepts. “Mindshare” is the key to a corporation entrenching itself and whatever it might be in the buisness of selling into the individual and public psyche. It is the advertisement (lock), method of teaching/ informing the public (stock), and finally the establishment of empathy with targeted audience/consumer group (and barrel) that form the core of “Mindshare”.
Primal urge to sell and to satiate…
Lust (sex, drive to perpetuate, call it whatever you dirty old man!) Fear and Greed are the three key human motivators. They are what most highly successful marketing campaigns thrive on. Success in the marketing industry is not determined by how shiny or ‘polished’ the end product was, but by how much of a positive financial result the client enjoyed as a result.
Ever heard “sex sells”? Course you have! Even that one little para-phrase is built upon the elementary foundations shared by “Mindshare” and the idiosyncratic tongue of the 00’s.
Lust, namely sex does sell because it appeals to our inner most physical desires, teasing and taunting our inadequacies by presenting to us ‘golden, sun drenched, youthful, taut bodies of attractive males and females’. “Mindshare” exploits our sexual wants and yearnings and twists them sublimely, into buying the mentioned product, whatever it maybe. This is because deep down, sadly enough, people evoke a feeling of fulfillment, sexual or otherwise through the purchase and possession of the product and associating with it the images featured on the advertisement. Thus “Mindshare” embeds itself in your head through the establishment of an emphatic link.
So then, after satisfying our labido, then the natural impulse is then to move on to the need to gather and accululate. To have, ie Greed.
Show me the money!
Money, money and more money, kind of a paradox don’t you think? Earning this physically useless stuff, to buy more consumer items in the hope of accumulating more physically useless stuff. Yet survival in the corporate jungle IS dictated by how much plastic stuff you do have, not how many winters you can go through relying on your stores of smoked antelope. Money is also paramount in that it too dictates your standing in the capitalist social hierarchy.
Consumers perpetuate this seemingly ironic and vicious circle. As a proven fact people throughout the course of their lives drift intermittently between two realms, ‘the land of plenty (have money in wallet), and the ‘land of squat’ (have lint and used train ticket in wallet). Thus they diverge into two sub-species ‘tight-arses’ and ‘spend-thrifts’. Most sensible people try to maintain a balance between the two, as being branded either is a kind of pseudo-stigma.
To go on, “Mindshare” takes advantage of greed, or to put it nicely the need to establish and accumulate (hoard) financial security and surplus funds. People like having money, some people the ‘tight-arses’ like knowing that they have money. Either way any product that offers to save people money or even make them money, is a winner in any ones book.
…you mean, there’s germs having sex on my shirt… and I need this to kill ‘em?
Last but not least is the ‘how’ of “Mindshare” playing upon an individual’s sense of fear and apprehension. This one when utilised by the marketing magnates needs to be used by stealth, cleverly slotted in, simply because fear is seem as a ‘bad’ even a negative emotion and does not promote expenditure. When it is the used, advertisers concoct sequences of images that essential ‘scare’ people into buying particular items. This could be for example insect killer, mousetraps and cars to name a few. Playing upon paranoia is a risky approach to establishing “Mindshare”, as it can leave a nasty PR wreck for the corporation to mop up if a product campaign is not thought out. Although it can reap great dividends, as it develops the ‘must have or else’ consumer mentality’.
This being reminiscent of the NSW Government’s highly successful approach to scaring television audiences out of smoking, drink driving, and scaring them into being aware of driver fatigue.
Yet the central aspect of using fear to establish consumer “Mindshare” is to be able to alleviate that fear through the targeted consumer purchasing the item. Kind of like driving a brand of car and consciously and sub consciously knowing that you’re safe.
So that sums up how “Mindshare” works on the individual and respectively on the public, the sunken masses. Yet as mentioned before “Mindshare” is ephemeral, it exists with in the context and confines of the fifth dimension, “Mindshare” is also some thing that is bitterly contested for, by the corporations, and yep you guessed it, you’re the prize.
The Global Ghetto
Turf wars are being fought, casualties are staggering, tolls skyrocketing into the billions, and the aray of pychological weapons available to the rivial gangs (you know, your friendly McConglomerate) are staggering. It is a war for your minds, a war of allegience, of fighting for the greatest slice of humanitie’s ‘Mindshare’.
The Way of the Samurai
It’s all well and easy to just throw down the big furry red rug and simply ‘establish’ “Mindshare”, yet it’s another to gain and compete to it. The Market is absolutely flooded with goods that are just dying to be flogged off by their peddlers. But where do you go first? So much happening, everything is a blur, chaos all around you, yet you hear a voice, you head towards the one thing that stands out and above the crowd.
Loudness, competing aurally for attention, cast your mind back to the days of your infancy, to a time when puking your guts up and being incontinent was not frowned upon. When, a baby, the only way of effectively communicating yourself was by screaming and crying your little heart out. It worked great, but you would’ve been in a world of pain if your parents were deaf?
So far we’ve determined that loudness works super in the world of infancy, but what of the adult world? Remember that old bag that’d do the spruiking for the local jewelers? Yeah that one, the one you’d see every Thursday night and you would simply walk past without even feigning interest, yet you do remember your ears ringing more each time, must’ve been because she got a bigger amplifier and mike, still, no-one stopped to listen.
Monotony is still monotony no matter how loud it sounds.
To grab a person’s attention, followed by their money, followed by their cash, a more sophisticated approach is needed.
The Big Picture
You remember. Your reality in your own mind is shaped by the way memories are learned or subsequently “taught”. That’s exactly why the saying goes “old habits die hard”, once something has been learned and etched into the mind for a long time it is difficult to forget.
In the digital age marketing has undergone a metamorphosis, that now crosses boundaries,
previously thought sacred.
Sure the gradual encroachment of technology on our lives is to be expected right? But are we really prepared to have the very ideals and beliefs, those especially which we hold dearest to us, torn away and used as tacky, frivolous pieces of consumerist junk?
The case of marketing and its inherent connection to postmodernism has been a heavily debated point for the past ten years. Yet where do you draw the line, where does witty marketing border on spiritual offense.
Is this the End?
Maybe not, history is in a constant state of flux, cyclic in nature. Values shift, and political systems shift with the pendulmn of circumstance. Consumerism, within the framework of a modern, heavily technologised Western world, is a reaction to the great benefits to the standards of living that came with the Industrial Revolution and other subsequent periods of dramatic change. Neither political extreme of society is very pleasant (ultra-socialist or ultra-conservative). With either major swing it’s always the sunken masses that get shafted. Yet it is to be accepted that consumerism is merely a reflection of the (developed) world’s increasing prosperity and material desire. For humanity to maintain it’s cultural integrity, a subjective equilibrium must made. That responsibilty lies with in the hands of our generation, may we pray to what ever deities we haven’t yet profaned, that our future does hold true.