Absence of ethics in advertising [video]

The Pitch from Gruen Planet asks two ad agencies to come up with a campaign concept to sell viewers on the idea of restricting advertising. The first ad is amusing, but the second is chillingly Orwellian.

The Pitch runs from 21:20 to 23:30.

The latter reminds me of Noam Chomsky’s observation about propaganda and the media:

The public relations industry, which essentially runs the elections, is applying certain principles to undermine democracy which are the same as the principles that [it] applies to undermine markets. The last thing that business wants is markets in the sense of economic theory. Take a course in economics, they tell you a market is based on informed consumers making rational choices. Anyone who’s ever looked at a TV ad knows that’s not true. In fact if we had a market system an ad say for General Motors would be a brief statement of the characteristics of the products for next year. That’s not what you see. You see some movie actress or a football hero or somebody driving a car up a mountain or something like that. And that’s true of all advertising. The goal is to undermine markets by creating uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices and the business world spends huge efforts on that. The same is true when the same industry, the PR industry, turns to undermining democracy. It wants to construct elections in which uninformed voters will make irrational choices. It’s pretty reasonable and it’s so evident you can hardly miss it.
~ From lecture titled “The State-Corporate Complex: A Threat to Freedom and Survival,” at the The University of Toronto, April 7, 2011

Two more quotes by Chomsky from Alternet.org:

The leading student of business propaganda, Australian social scientist Alex Carey, argues persuasively that “the 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
~ From World Orders: Old and New

If the media were honest, they would say, Look, here are the interests we represent and this is the framework within which we look at things. This is our set of beliefs and commitments. That’s what they would say, very much as their critics say. For example, I don’t try to hide my commitments, and the Washington Post and New York Times shouldn’t do it either. However, they must do it, because this mask of balance and objectivity is a crucial part of the propaganda function. In fact, they actually go beyond that. They try to present themselves as adversarial to power, as subversive, digging away at powerful institutions and undermining them. The academic profession plays along with this game.
~ From Lecture titled ” Media, Knowledge, and Objectivity,” June 16, 1993

Chomsky has been painted as a wacko conspiracy theorist by mainstream media — and some of his later statements on global politics do strike me as odd — but his early insights into the unholy alliance between the media, business and politics and their use of propaganda are chillingly accurate and should not be ignored.