2014: Brand Totalitarianism
33 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2013 Last revised: 6 Apr 2017
Date Written: February 4, 2014
As the Cold War commenced, George Orwell famously warned of a dystopian future in which government authorities pervasively surveil their citizens as part of an insidious system of public mind control. While leaks of the National Security Administration’s clandestine PRISM mass electronic data mining program have reignited fears of Big Brother, a more gradual, but possibly comparably significant, shift in information control has unfolded without much fanfare: the growing integration of advertising into news, media, expressive creativity, and social activity. This article explores the real and present threat to expressive freedom, free will, and public well-being posed by the growing integration of advertising into mass media and Internet services. What began as a largely innocuous means of cross-subsidizing print media and a solution to funding broadcast media has increasingly distorted the integrity of news reporting and creative expression as broadcasters have adapted to digital video recorders and Internet companies have built massive netizen dossiers in order to better target advertising. Part I explores the development of the advertising industry as a branch of applied psychological research. Part II traces the relationship between advertising and the funding and dissemination of expressive creativity. Part III explores the policy challenges posed by the growing integration of advertising into mass media and the larger Internet-driven cultural landscape.
Keywords: Advertising, DVR, Brands, Marketing, Big Data, Mass Media, Big Brother, Orwell, Psychology, Obesity, Creative Independence, Journalism
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