Once upon a time, James Bond was a genuine badass.
Now, James Bond is only a symbol of manliness for the confused consumer, who doesn’t have any better role models in his life.
The newer James Bond movies, with Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, may have turned out great–had they not been jam-packed with not-so-subtle advertising and product placement.
But I don’t blame the director. I imagine it’s hard to make a great movie when you’re not allowed to shoot a single scene that’s not specifically written for the purpose of making a sponsored product look cool.
There is a scene where James Bond sits on a train and chats with his female agent. For no reason this conversation ensues:
Female agent: Rolex?
James Bond: Omega.
Female agent Beautiful.
James Bond movies are 2-hour commercials. As pictured: Aston Martin, an Omega watch, a pair of glasses (?), Alfa Romeo, Sony VAIO, VAIO, Range Rover, Sony Ericson, Ford.
Brands, Progressive Obsolescence & the Confused Consumer
Brands can have different associations depending on geographic location.
IKEA in Scandinavia means “cheap, practical, decent-quality furniture”.
IKEA in other places, notably Asia, means “high quality furniture, innovative design and fancy Scandinavian style.”
Not only is the IKEA brand looked upon differently, but it has HIGHER status in Asian countries.
To use Christine Frederick’s concept of progressive obsolescence–(the act of buying new stuff without needing it)–IKEA in Asia would be more likely to influence an average consumer to buy new IKEA products for the sake of:
a) their aesthetics and/or the stimulus of novelty;
b) the expression of status that comes with the ability to say:
“I’m such a badass that I just REDECORATED my ENTIRE apartment with IKEA’s latest spring collection of MATCHING furniture!”
Laugh all you want.
People all around the world act like this . .
Especially the confused consumer.
But. . . even a smart and rational person can act like this.
And it CAN be worth it–if:
1) You genuinely like the (brand) product and it makes you happy. . .
(Because you feel that you are supporting a cause that you believe in; like high quality, locally produced, or environmentally friendly, to name a few.)
2) Or if the (brand) product gives you more value than its monetary cost.
You could distill both of these arguments down to this:
The (brand) product must add value
1) can be called “psychological value to self”
2) can be called “total value.”
This concept might be a little bit tricky to get your head around, but try to follow me on this one, because I’m making a point. . .
Just Because You Buy Brands or Expensive Products Does Not By Default Mean That You Are a Confused Consumer
A rapper who buys diamond rings and gold chains may actually get MORE total value out of his purchase than the many thousands of dollars they cost.
Yes, it’s true.
Even more monetary value!
“How?” you ask?
Because when the rapper does that, LOTS of lower class people (who are the main demographic of rap) become more likely to listen to what he has to say, and will buy his album.
It may well be worth it.
How do I know?
Because it’s been done.
An OBESE, unattractive, BROKE, former CORRECTIONAL OFFICER turned himself into a massively (pun intended) successful rapper by doing this. . .
He took out huge loans to finance expensive cars, clothes, designer glasses, watches and glimmering jewelry, so that he could FAKE the external signs of success.
His name is “Rick Ross”.
A name that he STOLE from a well-known (and feared) cocaine kingpin who was in jail at the time.
Rapper Rick Ross is one of the best examples in the world of the “fake it til’ you make it” adage.
Say what you want about him. . .
But Rick Ross is no fool. He has consistently pursued a deliberate long-term strategy.
And that is how he managed to become a successful artist and businessman in a competitive industry: Rap.
To become a successful mainstream musician–especially a rapper–you need a captivating image. You need LOTS of glitz and glamor, or you cannot tap into the very limited attention span of the confused consumer.
Although he panders to them, Rick Ross is not a confused consumer.
But lots of less intelligent rappers ARE. They have a few hit songs, make some fast money, then spend it all on expensive jewelry for no good reason.
I’m sure they think the jewelry is cool and appreciate the product, but, does this appreciation amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars?
I think not.
Unlike Rick Ross, these rappers are not pursuing a consistent strategy. They’re throwing $100,000–that they BARELY have–on jewelry that they don’t know what to do with.
If succeeding in the rap industry is like going to war, then these rappers are buying a helicopter that they don’t even know how to fly. . .
For Rick Ross, the jewelry is a weapon. These other rappers–the confused consumers–they’re going into war unarmed.
And that’s why they get slaughtered.
The vast majority of people in the world are just like these rappers.
They’re confused consumers, who buy overpriced stuff that doesn’t help them win the war.
Defining the Confused Consumer
Consumer society wants its citizens to be confused consumers.
Because confused consumers buy more stuff (that they do not need) and keep the economy running smoothly and predictably for those who run it. This is not some evil ‘Illuminati-type’ thing, with old men sitting ’round a table scheming and plotting, it’s just a by-product of capitalism.
The ultimate confused consumer is a person who:
- Has little or no awareness of the cultural traditions, customs, and rituals he habitually engages in. Plus he likes everything that’s popular (he is the PERFECT victim for a devious mastermind like Edward Bernays).
- Walks around with a constant feeling of stress and discontent. He also believes in quick fixes (and consumes junk food, stimulants, and drugs to find temporary relief).
- Practices progressive obsolescence without being told to do so.
- Has low self-esteem, is lazy, and instead of making something out of himself–and exercising the unprecedented upward mobility of the 21st century–he buys aspirational brand products.
- [Whose] Mental tribe is contaminated with popular culture personalities and brand personas. He looks up to James Bond and Rick Ross.
- Has no creative outlet or path to mastery for expressing himself. He is limited to expressing his personality through consumption.
- Buys expensive (brand) products with money he does not have, without any clear strategy for why he’s doing it, and so the monetary cost outweighs the total value he receives.
Do you know anyone who fits this description?
If so, please call this number _________ and turn them in.
If life is WAR–and in many aspects it is–then the confused consumer is going in unarmed.
If you consider his strategy; how he’s spending his resources, and what supplies he’s buying, you’d think he’s going on vacation–not Normandy.
Why Do People Buy into this Crap?
Why do men become confused consumers?
Because it’s a psychologically comforting idea.
In the midst of his shitty life, it gives the confused consumer something to look forward to–or, as said by a marketing director of BMW:
My job is to make sure that every American over the age of 18 falls asleep every night dreaming of a BMW.
It’s a lot easier for the average man to buy into the belief that if he just buys stuff (pun not intended), but not just any stuff: luxury products–he can become happy, achieve a sense of well-being, and become respected.
If he can buy these things he’ll send out social signals that he is lovable and worthy of reverence.
“Look at me, I am part of the cool people’s club!”
Like a rapper on TV who has grillz (the stupidest status product ever made), expensive jewelry, and brand clothing.
Like James Bond driving an Aston Martin, wearing an Omega watch, and designer glasses.
The Implications of Consumerism on Modern Society:
Edward Bernays believed that people should be turned into consumers through psychological manipulation and cleverly crafted PR material (propaganda), even if that meant CREATING demand for nonsense products.
Today: people all over the world are eating “large hearty breakfasts” full of highly processed bacon and crunchy, sugary, cereal that “satisfies their desire to overcome obstacles”.
Not to mention drinking overly fluoridated water, smoking cigarettes, and engaging in cultural traditions that they have no idea what they are for.
Christine Frederick believed that women would become empowered if they bought the newest clothes, beauty products and household appliances. And that the practice of progressive obsolescence would make the world flourish.
Today: it is probably true that modern women (at least in Sweden) are better dressed than ever. At the same time their complaints about the superficial standards imposed on them through advertising are reaching an all-time high. And progressive obsolescence is ruining the environment.
Ernest Dichter believed that by uncovering the hidden psychological purchasing motives, companies all around the world would be able to provide superior products, and the economy would evolve positively.
Through the consumption of brand products people would unite and prosper around common interests, and the world would become a happier place.
Today: companies are using highly advanced psychological methods to pander products geared at instant gratification to confused consumers.
These people all genuinely felt they were making the world a better place.
Given modern consumer culture, do you agree?
Branding, done through efficient advertising and marketing, puts a brand–a perceived personality–inside of your mental tribe.
And, I don’t know about you, but. . .
Only after you have FREED yourself from the insanity of mainstream media, popular culture, consumerism, and removed brands or other unnecessary personalities from your 150 Dunbar’s number slots will you. . .
Attain autonomy of mind.