2012 Abstracts Stage 3

Advertising. An Insight into the Contemporary Complexity of Advertising, Examining it from Both a Marxian and Psychoanalytic Framework

I will explore Marx’s views of capitalism as a base for my further examination into advertising. This will not be a predictable attack, but an outline of the social structures of the world in which we live. I will focus my examination of Marx’s concepts of; the free market, power and need, commodity and alienation. These concepts are central to a study of advertising.

Edward Bernays revolutionised the world of advertising through his marriage of psychoanalysis and advertising. Through his studies into the human psyche he showed how advertising acts as the invisible governor which controls the masses. I will explore the incompatibility of Bernays psychoanalysis of advertising and Marx’s views on capitalism.

I will explore the anti-advertising of cigarettes and the Anti-Advertising Agency, to examine how they use Bernays’ discoveries, yet achieve opposite results. I will further my investigation to distinguish whether anti-advertising coheres to Marxist thought, and in doing so I will show how these two forms of anti-advertising are in fact very different.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Philosophy of Facebook and its Use of Advertising

THE TWO DIMENSIONAL SELF: The way in which people use Facebook as a ‘second life’ is compromising our attempt to discover an authentic self-understanding. Facebook provides us with a ‘flattened’, ‘two-dimensional’ identity, where our account could be seen as a ‘living advert’ in which we only promote the positive aspects of our life and hide away the bad. When we fill in forms at the Doctor’s, we do not claim that is our whole self. However, our attributes, basic details and interests wholly define our ‘Facebook Identity’. This leads us to the question, how are we able to act freely and reasonably whilst retaining this false reality?

HOW DOES FACEBOOK MAKE A PROFIT?: Facebook is a free service that is accessible to all Internet users. Therefore, in order to maintain this service and to create a successful business, Facebook provides us with advertisements. It tempts us with products we didn’t even know we wanted. Facebook uses targeted advertising through the knowledge of our personal details and interests.

TARGETED PHILOSOPHY AND KANT: With a consideration for Kant’s position, one could argue that presenting the subject with targeted advertisements is not immoral as we are able to judge and act upon what we encounter in life, freely and through reason. Through a consideration for Kant’s moral philosophy, I will aim to deduce the extent to which we are manipulated to buy products placed upon us in Facebook.

SPONSORED STORY AND KANT: If I choose to ‘like’ a brand’s page, then I can be used in a sponsored story on one of my friend’s pages. This is a service that one cannot opt out of and brings into question the idea that the user is fundamentally exploited as a ‘human advert’. Facebook argue that when I like something, I am associating myself with that specific brand or service. However, in my project, I will be arguing whether it is ethically right to use others as a means to making a greater profit for the company.

DEATH OF ADVERTISING? AND LEVINAS: Levinas states that most art is fundamentally materialistic in that matter overpowers form. Through a consideration for his philosophy, I will provide a critical evaluation of the artistic nature of this type of advertising. Also, I will discuss whether Facebook has resulted in the death of advertising or instead it is simply part of the natural evolution of the revolutionary marketing strategies of the 21st century.

2012 Abstracts Stage 3

As a Product of Free Market Capitalism Does Advertising Reinforce Inequality in the Current, British, Free-marketed, Democratic Society?

I resent others for having more!
Why can’t I have what I see on television!
Advertising constantly reminds me of what I don’t have.
I’m just a commodity
I cant escape advertising and my desires for money!
I’ll never get to the top of the ladder.
I want what my neighbours got!

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Honda: the Power of Dreams

The Advertising of Honda – Popular and life-affirming, but is it just a capitalist front designed purely for selling and promoting the spectacle?

Popular and life-affirming, but is it just a capitalist front designed purely for selling and promoting the spectacle?
The Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord) – claims our society is dominated by the spectacle (TV for e.g.) but is it too cynical?

‘The Power of Dreams’ or ‘the glitter of the spectacle’s distractions’? Through this project, I aim to examine the theory Guy Debord asserts in his The Society of the Spectacle in detail, in order to discuss the relevance of a Debordian analysis with relation to Honda’s advertising.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Free Will in Relation to Advertising in the Modern Society.

In my project I hope to achieve an understanding of the free will problem and through this explore how various elements of society may subconsciously coerce us into action that we do not want to take.

I will look into elements of;
• Causal determinism
• Libertarianism
• Compatibilism
• Self determination
• Coercion
• Desires

I will also be looking at Hobbes and Kant to compare and contrast their views on freedom and then look at the modern society and explore how the concept of freedom can change and also how it is relative to the self. I will then look at political coercion and various forms of advertising to show how we can be controlled and our freedom can be easily threatened, I will then ask if we even truly have freedom for it to be threatened or is this coercion essential to society and is it even important that we have a totally free will.

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

From Viral Advertising to Corporate Personhood: Does the Corporation Walk Among Us?

The object upon which my project will be based is the corporation.

The context in which I will explore the corporation is viewing corporations with the framing of an individual.

Although corporations are what the name implies, a group of individuals working together towards the production of profit; corporations share many attributes that an individual holds, including corporations being seen as ‘legal persons’ in legislation.

Therefore, to what extent is an individual human and a corporation the same as one another or different?

To explore this idea, I will use topics such as;
• Aristotelian virtue ethics – can corporations have traits and characteristics which deem them to be virtuous?
• Hegelian social ethics – how can corporations function ethically within a social whole and guarantee ‘recognition’ to stakeholders and employees?
• Social contact theories – taking Hobbesian social contact theory and applying it to the corporation
• Prevailing thoughts in the newly developing field of business ethics

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

The Relation of Advertising and Branding to the Rise of Capitalism in Britain

My third year project presentation is on the rise of capitalism in Britain by means of advertising and branding with reference to Theodor Adorno’s The Culture Industry and Dialectic of Enlightenment and Naomi Klein’s No Logo. I will evaluate the rise of capitalism in Britain, and what led to the individual’s willingness to conform to this particular type of industry. I will analyse the techniques of the colossal chain companies that engage individuals to consume, these being advertising and its origins and the increase of companies starting to produce „brands‟ instead of concentrating on the production of the product.

This leads my dissertation on to the work of Theodor Adorno, Adorno subscribed to many of Karl Marx’s about the economy and the exploitative relations of capitalism and advertising. Adorno argued that capitalism fed people with the products of a „culture industry‟ the opposite of „true art‟, to keep them passively satisfied and politically apathetic. The strength of his theoretical contribution owes a great deal to the originality with which he traced pathways between the central themes of German idealist philosophy, Marxist sociology and Freudian psychopathology.

I will discuss his ideas about alienation, the regression of listening, fetish consciousness and the domination of nature, in relation to our capitalist society today. The repercussions on society of Adorno’s notions are colossal; such as the ideas of brain-dead docile populations hence, I will explain these.

My case study focuses on the rise of Tesco’s as a business; I will show how it exploits individuals through capitalism at its purest. Many of Adorno’s theories on domination and the way Tesco’s sucks us into a cycle of fetishizing commodities that we will never need or use.

Naomi Klein’s No Logo is seen as the Das Kapital of the anti-corporate movement. The basic perspective is that multinational corporations have become so big that they have superseded governments and have become the ruling political bodies of our era. Unlike governments, multinational corporations are accountable only to their shareholders and there are no mechanisms in place to make them “put people before profits”. Klein takes a modern perspective that Adorno is not here to see. I shall then contrast ideas from both Klein and Adorno to gain a modern perspective of the problems of capitalism and how it affects our society and the individual.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Should the Advertising of Alcoholic Products Be Restricted?

In my project I am going to be focusing on advertising of Alcohol in our current society and its positive and negative effects.

By looking at how the negative health effect of smoking changed the advertising of cigarettes I will relate this to what we already know about alcohol and its damaging attributes both physically and mentally, and assess if the advertising of alcohol needs to change.

It is arguable that because alcohol is a legal product then it should be legal to advertise.

However, the same can be said for cigarettes but because of the clear connection between cancer and cigarettes.

Clearly a total ban on alcohol advertising would be detrimental to individual brands of alcohol, but possibly not on the general sale of alcohol.

The main arguments against alcohol advertising suggest they increase sales in existing drinkers and provoke new young drinkers.

Cheap accessible alcohol promotes anti-social behaviour and heavy drinking which can lead to alcoholism and depression in later life, as well as various health issues.

Essentially, advertising of alcohol legitimates excessive use of a potentially damaging product.

To establish if it is right to ban alcohol or an infringement of our liberty I will be looking at Bentham and Mill’s concept of welfare. A vitally important question for Mill is what are: “the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by the society over the individual’ (L.1.1)

I aim to establish whether the health effects of alcohol are reason enough to ban the advertising of it.

2010 Abstracts Stage 3

To What Extent Is Advertising Used to Support the Capitalist Society? In Relation to the Works of Karl Marx, Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard

Aim: The aim of the project is to assess whether advertising is a central tool to deceive and manipulate the capitalist society.

Territory: In the Modern World the importance of advertising is steadily on the increase, my Stage Three Project evaluates the problems which arise from Advertising within a Capitalist Society. This study shall attempt to analyse the role advertising plays in dictating the masses and its relation to the consumerist capitalist society. I will discuss false advertising and how it targets particular groups of individual, for example young girls in the fashion and beauty industry

A capitalist society was shaped during the 20th century when there was a certain transformation within the system of production. It changed form a society of small decentralised units to one of leviathan International Corporation; this is partly due to increase in advertising as there was a demand from a vaster quantity of consumables. In a capitalist state the political system controls the economy much more forcefully than in the 19th century, I shall be analysing the change Capitalism has had upon the advertising industry.

Philosophical Thinkers

Karl Marx – Critique of Capitalism and his ideas of Commodity Fetishism. Marx’s work refers to the consumer culture characterised by omnipresent adverting and the diffusion of techniques of advertising into all realms of life.

Guy Debord – The Situationist thoughts within his works ‘Society of the Spectacle’, he expresses his central ideas on the spectacle and how to escape the reality of a Capitalist society, which has influenced an increase in Advertising.

Jean Baudrillard – Jean Baudrillard was one of the, combined his work with philosophy and social theory. Being a foremost thinker to critique contemporary societies, culture and thought he has written several works relevant to consumerism and advertising.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Advertising. A Study into the Causes and Consequences of Advertising with Reference to Bataille and Schopenhauer

Advertising and consumerism is undeniably significant in modern society and this study takes an alternative philosophical approach towards the issue as well as considering modern thinkers that have discussed the medium previously.
Schopenhauer argued that an individual is controlled by their will and this leads them to live a life of dissatisfaction and suffering. This study shows that advertising does not produce this suffering but intensifies negative feelings because it forces desires on individuals. Schopenhauer argues that to discover metaphysical truth is a temporary release from this cycle and so this study also considers its applicability to contemporary society. The texts used will be ‘The World as Will and Representation volume I and II’.
Bataille considers how a homogenous society seeks to remove unproductive elements from this sphere but I argue that because modern society is dominated by capitalism and homogeneity, it seeks to remove unproductive behaviour from all of society. This study then examines how advertising could be used as a tool to remove unproductive or heterogeneous behaviour by shaping our desires. The negative consequence is that heterogeneous behaviour is inseparable from productive behaviour. This insight is taken from a collection of essays by Bataille.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Fast Food: the Obsession and the Problem

Territory: Fast food industry. Objective: The aim of my project is to focus on how the fast food industry is taking over society and how the advertising within the media influences our decisions. I will illustrate how the fast food industry began and how it has developed into the global industry that we know today. How this industry has dominated the way that we see food as well as changing society into a fast pace society of convenience. As well as how our food choices are so heavily influenced by these corporations, that we are slowly becoming a nation killing ourselves through unhealthy food. Aim: I will be looking at chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey to understand how they are trying to change society’s eating habits and trying to help us not become such an unhealthy nation. The Philosopher that I will be using to aid my thought process will be Marx. I will focus on Marxist ideas on commodities and capitalism, as well as his theory of ideology. Focusing not just on Marx, but also on influential Marxists such as Fredric Jameson and Georg Lukac.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Shop until we Drop?

Territory: Four businesses operating in the UK retail sector of industry and their company websites. Areas of Investigation: • Company values and the role and functions of these in business. • The ‘relationship’ between business and its customers and how this is changing as a result of the internet. • Marketing and advertisement techniques and the possible effects they might have on consumers. • Crisis of legitimation and the poststructuralist interpretations of western society. Philosophical Thinkers Involved: Nietzsche’s ‘Will to Power’ exposes fundamental issues with values in retail business practises. As a result conceptions of power are considered in the forms expressed by Foucault and Thomas to see how this affects the position of the consumer. Baudrillard’s ideas of simulacra and simulation were then used to highlight possible reasons for company values in relation to how we perceive the real. Further exposition of the consumer relation to business was carried out through the work of Jean François Lyotard and Gianni Vattimo. Conclusions: Businesses values are not legitimate but instead the result of our interactions as consumers; our purchases can actually shape society making our relationship with business an active one instead of passive. The overall conception of business as a physical entity is misleading as it has no fixed point; businesses are sociological phenomenon that reflects the general will of society because they are governed by the pragmatics of economics and are fundamentally made from members of that society.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

To what extent does the consumer society we live in today affect our self identity?

Territory: The territory I have considered in this project in order to understand the changing nature of identity is that of advertising in contemporary society. I have explored the history of advertising, the psychology of advertising and some advertising techniques that are used by companies to persuade. Concepts: The key concepts I have engaged with in this project are: – Loss of agency -Fragile nature of identity -Identity given by society -Identity in flux. Key questions I have engaged with are: -How is our identity formed in modern society? -How has it changed over time? -What are the influential factors on identity? -How do advertising agencies target individuals? -What methods do they use?

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Corporate Logos: Mind control?

Territory: Subliminal persuasion as seen in the corporate logo and advertising of the “Coca Cola” company has created a new type of ‘sacred’ icon. Object: “Coca Cola” advert from 1980’s with sexual subliminal message. Aim: The aim of my personal investigation is to show how attitudes towards sacred icons have changed with the rise of the corporate identity in a capitalist society. I have decided to show this through the marketing of “Coca Cola” as “Coca Cola” is one of the world’s most famous corporate logos. I have also investigated theories of false consciousness as well as Freudian ideas on sex, with regards to the question as to why subliminal sexual arousal would help to sell a non-sexual product.

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Advertising: A Tool of Capitalist Manipulation?

This project is an investigation into the discourse of advertising in our contemporary late capitalist society. This study shall attempt to assess the role advertising plays in manipulation of the masses and its relation to mass media in capitalist society. My aim is to assess whether advertising is a central tool of deception in the commodity driven culture of capitalism Advertising has changed dramatically since the time of the industrial revolution. The division of labour and the beginning of mass production due to the industrialisation that has created far more of a ‘need’ to advertise and stay one step ahead of competitors. This I would stipulate is due to the onslaught of late capitalism, globalisation and commodity infatuation of the consumer. Ongoing advancement in technology has created an environment in modern society by which there are more and more means of mass broadcasting. The industrial revolution was the catalyst for this. The use of advertising has metamorphosed from a simple presentation of information on a product to the public in a manner to inform of use and content of a product; to an ambience creating, aesthetic tool merged with mass media creating a barrage on the senses. Branding and heritage of brand has outplayed use, image out mustering purpose The end product of Advertising’s growth through the mass media is its immanence in society, and its ability to shape the ideas and behaviour, as well as formation of self of the individual.

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

The Change of Social Values over the last 100 years as Demonstrated in Advertising

Territory: Beer advertisements. Object: Carlsberg advertisements. Aim: The aim of my personal project is to show the changing attitudes and social values of the early 20th century society as opposed to our contemporary society. I have decided to show this using the marketing of beer. I also intend to point out how these represent the introduction of “Lad Culture” which became apparent in British society during the 1990’s along with ‘lads’ magazines such as maxim, FHM and Loaded as well as TV shows such as ‘men behaving badly’. It also shows a distinct change in attitude towards the consumption of alcohol in general; the development of the binge drinking culture that is so prevalent in today’s youthful society. I also believe these adverts show a distinct decline in the strong family values that we saw in the first half of the 20th century. I will thus talk about Hegel’s view of family values and compare them to that of a lesser known modern philosopher, David Cooper’s, works called ‘The death of Family’.

2006 Abstracts Stage 3

Advertising and Consumerism Rule our Culture: what Effects does this have on the Individual?

Themes: • In this project I look at how advertising, marketing and consumerism rule our culture, and the effects of this on the individuals existing within this society. The effects on the individual’s life such as freedom, happiness and identity. • The majority of most of our lives is spent working in order to make money, to purchase consumables. Consumables have become the indicators of status, rather than leisure time, or rank at work. For example what car you drive and labels you wear has become of incredible importance. • We now build up our identities through what we consume, and find a sense of freedom in the consumer arena. We feel that we are free to buy what we want and make personal choices, when in fact we are brainwashed and seduced by advertising and the mass media. • Is the world in which we are living a reality? Have we become so obsessed with objects and image that we do not know our real desires or what real fulfilment is? Consumer fulfilment is just postponing the emptiness of our lives, which is why we continue to consume, to constantly fill this void. Sources: I shall focus on three main thinkers, two sociologists Bunting and Bauman and the philosopher Debord. I shall also be comparing these thinkers to other philosophers throughout. • Bunting: I shall look at her book Willing Slaves, How the Overwork Culture is Ruining our Lives. She examines how we as a culture work exhaustive hours in order to consume, this desire to consume is installed in us through the media, advertising and marketing. • Bauman: I shall mainly be looking as his book Identity, and how our society saturated with the media and advertising has a huge effect on our identities. • Debord: I shall be looking at his book Society of the Spectacle, in which he critiques our culture. I shall be investigating what he means by the spectacle, and how he suggests that the society in which we live is not real due to advertising and the media. Our society is fake in a sense, and we have lost contact with our true desires and selves.

2005 Abstracts Stage 2

Philosophy of Magazine Advertising

• My chosen territory: magazine advertising • My aim: explore the field of magazine advertising, investigate the truth within, and discuss in reference to the changes in the philosophies of truth. • My workbook explains how the concept for my project evolved from researching my chosen territory, and lead into the philosophy involved. • I started to research a few facts and figures about advertising in the media, and then gathered some examples of the advertising itself. • Then I began to investigate the possible philosophical issues that could be involved, for example: Karl Marx – discussing the power of the consumer on ads – the ‘masses’ have become the middle classes, who hold the most jobs, consume the most goods, and provide the state with the most revenue. Bertrand Russell – the pursuit of happiness – an admirable social goal, which he defines as “a profound instinctive union with the stream of life”. And also, Marcuse, Adorno, and Horkheimer – in respect of manipulation -they formulated the Frankfurt School vision of the innocent man and the guilty social institutions. I took a closer look at Sigmund Freud who described how non-satisfaction of powerful instincts leads to ‘cultural frustration’. And also his nephew Edward Bernays, perhaps the world’s first Spin Doctor, he called for the implementation of mass psychology by which public opinion might be controlled. • But then I struck on the concept of truth. Its significance and value is universally recognised, and yet is often manipulated by the advertising industry. Surprisingly, a complete account of the nature of truth has been notoriously elusive. Whereas the aim of science is to discover which of the propositions in its domain are true, i.e. which propositions possess the property of truth, the central philosophical concern of truth is to discover the nature of that property. It is not, What is true? but rather, What is truth? • There are 3 main theories. Firstly, the Correspondence Theory – an Aristotelian thesis, perhaps the most widely held account, it states that a belief is true provided there exists a fact corresponding to it. However if it is to provide a complete theory of truth, then it must be supplemented with accounts of what ‘facts’ are, and what it is for a belief to correspond to fact. • A popular alternative is to identify truth with verifiability. This idea can take on various forms. The Coherence Theory, developed by Bradley and Brand Blanchard, involves the further assumption that verification is holistic. Another version, from Dummett and Putnam, states that a true proposition can be verified by the appropriate procedure. In mathematics this amounts to the identification of truth with provability and is sometimes referred to as ‘intuitionistic truth’. Such theories however, appear to overestimate the link between knowability and truth, for we can easily imagine a statement that, though true, is beyond our power to verify. • The third major theory is the Pragmatic Theory, which argues that true beliefs are a good basis for action, and takes this to be the very nature of truth. True assumptions are said to be, by definition, those that provoke actions with desirable results. But again, the central objection is that the link it postulates, in this case between truth and its utility, is overestimated.

2004 Abstracts Stage 2

I think therefore I think about buying’

Place: Advertising, or more specifically, questioning the assumption that the ‘success of advertising relies upon the ability to appeal to negative human emotion’. Aims and Objectives of My Project: • To initially establish where this assumption came from. • To briefly explain ‘why’ advertising was created in the first instance and ‘how’ it developed into the institution it has become today. • To identify the negative human emotions that advertising deals with. It is imperative to also demonstrate that playing on such emotions is the very intent of advertising, both on a theoretical and practical level. I will prove that from a personal point of view, and with reference to relevant case studies that advertising does work (on the grounds suggested). I will also address the possibility that the proof of successful advertising comes when an appeal to consumer ends is absent. • To acknowledge that there are incidents in, which negative human emotions actually cause advertising to fail. I must also consider the fact that advertising, in a sociological context, has subsided to consumerism in the twenty-first century. • To consider other possible reasons ‘why’ advertising is not quite as successful as the title of my project initially implies. • To attempt to align the thoughts of certain prominent philosophers with the existence of advertising i.e. to assess how the philosophers would respond to the fundamental workings of the industry as a whole. My focus here will particularly fall upon Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Montaigne, Epicurus, Locke and Husserl.