Case24StudentsAsACaptiveAudience

Case24StudentsAsACaptiveAudience - Ilchristians8e i...

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Ilchristians8e individuals, But the guer- lries. El'en if ca in the pro- , number of mism of the " familiar_ Ice" doesn't ~ertain1y no ,. Indeed, it envelope." au do in a mist in the ; that llous 5 the l get Net- :reativity appears -making ~et mar- ~action" ·'5 is it o s as a rnow l, and atwe [eyed ynot ~eted seen , . .lon. C HAP TE R S I x The Commercialization of Everyday Life 135 And certainly, at least on the surface, many efforts seem harmless, even socially responsible; who can argue with sponsoring a Little League tealn? But even here, at the most benign level, we encounter the classic question of means and ends, where it could be contended that the only reason to (say) join a civic club, give public speeches, or sponsor a Little League team is ultimately to reap marketing outcomes. T,his, of course, resonates \vith one of the essential thenl€S of the mar- ket system-private gains ultimately will result in public good. At the other end of the continuum, we find a Whole Foods CEO posting crit- icism of a conlpetitor under a false identity, Acclaim Entertainment's offer to sub- sidize speeding tickets, and of course, Turner Broadcasting's light boards. In these instances, even the most forgiving might say, "This goes too far!" Where, then, is the ethical counterground? The introduction of laws or reg- ulations would enforce a Kantian absolutism but clearly would thwart legitimate business strategies and tactics in pursuit of the hallowed marketing driver of self- interest and the profit motive. Social responsibility? Perhaps, combined with a search for Aristotle's middle ground to avoid excesses. One thing is certain. In our increasingly con1rnercially driven culture, we will see more and more efforts to sell to us, not only through traditional advertis- ing but also clearly through more creative tactics as well. To \vhat end? Commu- nication scholar Stuart Ewen warns: The main thing these [guerrilla tactics] "add" to our lives is an intensified sense of distrust of and alienation from others. This grO\vs out of the suspicion that any human interaction, any product used or opinion expressed may be a com- mercially staged event designed to get us to buy, think, or behave in certain ,,,'ays,34 Guerrilla marketing seems, on reflection, '''ell named. Thf traditional definition of the adjective involves tactics of "sudden acts of harassm~nt," the military version made infanlous in Vietnam and, now, in occupied Iraq. T\;1e conunercial version is benign, of course, but challenges the working relationship between a company Witll something to sell and an individual who may-or may not-be interested, even as it adds yet another degree of commercialism'to an already highly com- mercialized culture. 24
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Case24StudentsAsACaptiveAudience - Ilchristians8e i...

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