David Sheppard, the recently deceased England cricket captain come radical Bishop, once said that 'advertising is tantalising the poor.'
I'm wondering if we need to go further than that.
For those who can remember far enough back to '3 Feet High and Rising', you'll remember that "We'll be back, right after these messages." Not any more. Advertising is rarely a communication of the facts about a product. It is the weaving of a story, some tantalising tale of a wonderful, content, exciting, peaceful, action-packed, fast, slow life full of beautiful people, sex, drinking, hangovers that disappear in the shower, and light-filled loft apartments that need little or no work to be afforded.
It is no longer a case of 'you might find this product useful or better than the one you currently use.' It's more about 'You're life is currently shit. Buy this, and you'll be buying into a better life. People will like you.' We are no longer buying functionality. We are buying into the stories that manufacturers drape over the same functionality, with a higher price tag.
I'd agree with Sheppard. Advertising does tantalise the poor in particular. I've taught in schools where kids can't afford school trips, but see no other way than to spend hundreds a year on new Nikes, Nokias and Nintendos. They have to. They don't feel they'll be accepted without them. But more than that, in an age where more and more of our field of vision is being chopped up and sold off to space for sale - hoardings, petrol pumps, escalator steps, TV shows, urinals - this constant message of aspiration and tantalisation is making us all poorer.
[Kester Brewin blogs with TypePad © and Apple Computers
His life apparently won't be complete until he has a G5. Then a G6.]