The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Corporations, Cars, the U.S.A., and Us

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 1, 2012

Benjamin Levin just posted his excellent article “Made in the USA: Corporate Responsibility and Collective Identity in the American Automotive Industry” (forthcoming Boston College Law Review, Vol. 53, No. 3, p. 821, 2012) on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract:

This Article seeks to challenge the corporate-constructed image of American business and American industry. By focusing on the automotive industry and particularly on the tenuous relationship between the rhetoric of automotive industry advertising and the realities of doctrinal corporate law, I hope to examine the ways that we as social actors, legal actors, and (perhaps above all) consumers understand what it means for a corporation or a corporation’s product to be American. In a global economy where labor, profits, and environmental effects are spread across national borders, what does it mean for a corporation to present the impression of national citizenship? Considering the recent bail-out of the major American automotive corporations, the automotive industry today becomes a powerful vehicle for problematizing the conflicted private/public nature of the corporate form and for examining what it means for a corporation to be American and what duties and benefits such an identity confers.

By examining the ways in which consumable myths of the American corporation interact with the institutions and legal regimes that govern American corporations, I argue that the advertised image of the national in the global economy serves as a broad corporate veil, a way of obscuring the consumer’s understanding of corporate identity and corporate accountability. With these overarching issues and questions as a guide, this Article will historically situate the identification of corporate nationality within a broader framework of debates on corporate social responsibility and interrogate the way that we conceive of the American corporation and corporate decision making.

Download the article for free here.

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Posted in Deep Capture, History, Ideology, Law, Marketing, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Marketing Situation of Doritos (FTC Complaint)

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 19, 2011

NPLAN filed a complaint today with the FTC today alleging that Frito-Lay has engaged in deceptive marketing to teens by disguising Doritos ads as entertainment; by collecting and using kids’ personal information in violation of its own privacy policy and without adequate disclosure about the extent and purpose of the data collection; and by engaging in viral marketing in violation of the FTC’s endorsement guidelines. Learn more about the complaint here.

These videos, which detail the advertising strategies and goals, speak for themselves.

Related Situationist posts:

For more on the situation of eating, see Situationist contributors Adam Benforado, Jon Hanson, and David Yosfion’s law review article Broken Scales: Obesity and Justice in AmericaFor a listing of numerous Situaitonist posts on the situational sources of obesity, click here.

Posted in Choice Myth, Deep Capture, Emotions, Entertainment, Food and Drug Law, Marketing, Video | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Advertising By Pulling Advertising

Posted by Adam Benforado on January 28, 2011

In case you’ve been attending to important things and haven’t been keeping up on the latest MTV programing, the network has launched a new racy show, “Skins,” that depicts the wild alcohol/drug/sex-fueled world of high school — or, well, a high school (sadly, I went to a math equation/AP biology-fueled high school).

Like clockwork, various organizations like the Parents Television Council were enraged and called for protests, congressional investigations, and pitchfork rallies outside of ominous castles.

And, as these things inevitably go, a number of companies pulled their advertising from the show.

As a representative of Taco Bell explained to the Hollywood Reporter, “We’ve decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming.”

So what do we make of this . . . or, indeed, any instance where a company publicly drops a show or celebrity spokesman when controversy strikes?

Is it all downside?  That is certainly the story that gets told: we invested so much into the campaign centered around O.J. and then he had to go out and . . . !

But perhaps it’s not as bad as it would seem for corporate America.  In fact, perhaps these controversial “break-ups” present ripe opportunities for establishing a brand or company identity.

Accenture was the first sponsor to drop Tiger Woods as its representative after revelations of his sexual escapades were made public.

The drama that was portrayed in the media was one of a company done wrong, but I wonder about that narrative.

After all, Accenture benefited for years with Tiger coming to personify the accuracy and integrity of the firm.  When Tiger slipped up, the company swiftly acted to sever its relationship, with the implicit message that (1) Tiger did not live up to the high expectations of the company and (2) the company was so dedicated to accuracy and integrity that it would send its heavyweight spokesman packing for personal indiscretions.  The real upside, of course, was that the breakup was quite public with numerous “news” stories about the relationship gone bad.  People who knew nothing about consulting suddenly knew the name Accenture and what the company stood for.

As the song goes, breaking up is hard to do . . . but for many companies there may be some real upside from a public split.

And, in the case of a show like “Skins” — it’s a win-win.  MTV draws in viewers who are suddenly intrigued by talk of a show that’s so over-the-top and scandalous that Taco Bell ran the other direction and Taco Bell gets to establish that while it’s still hip and spicy (it’s not pulling its advertising from MTV completely), at heart it’s a “family-oriented” business.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see

Posted in Entertainment, Marketing | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Merchants of Discontent – Abstract

Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 25, 2008

Tamara Piety has posted her excellent article, “‘Merchants of Discontent’: An Exploration of the Psychology of Advertising, Addiction and the Implications for Commercial Speech” (25 Seattle University Law Review 377 (2001) on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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The commercial speech doctrine allows the government to regulate commercial speech so as to prevent advertising that is false or deceptive while forbidding suppression of truthful commercial information that is based on nothing more than misplaced paternalism. However, this limitation is largely illusory in the realm of traditional advertising because the processes by which advertisers convey their messages employs means such as pictures, symbols, and music, making it virtually impossible to try to test such advertising for its truth. Objections to commercial advertising or calls for stricter regulation often invoke the response that there is no harm in advertising and any regulation of it would be an imposition of elitist sensibilities, or furthermore, a slippery slope to totalitarianism. But we should not treat commercial advertising as largely harmless, argues Prof. Piety. Commercial advertising is a pervasive force which blankets our society and plays a noticeable hand in promoting harmful behavior or attitudes. Given its pervasiveness in the culture it is disturbing to note many parallels between the psychology of commercial appeals and that of addiction. Both appear to involve retreat to fantasy, escapism, a quick fix to problems, a numbing down or increased tolerance from overexposure, and the institution of a vicious cycle wherein consumption fails to really satisfy but sets up a dynamic into which satisfaction rests just out of reach with the next fix or the next purchase. Prof. Piety examines three areas in particular where values of equality or definitions of autonomy clash with First Amendment protection for advertising such as this: the advertising of addictive substances, advertising directed at children, and advertising that undermines goals respecting equality for women and suggest that the doctrine may need to be revisited in light of these issues.

Posted in Abstracts, Choice Myth, Illusions, Law, Marketing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Daily Show’s John Oliver at the Pollies

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 7, 2008

“The best political ads have the ability to mislead us, demoralize us, and disenfranchise us from the political process . . . .”

~ John Oliver

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted in Choice Myth, Deep Capture, Emotions, Events, Ideology, Marketing, Naive Cynicism, Politics, Uncategorized, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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