Monday, October 18, 2010

Media Economics & French Advertising

by Sophia Ochoa, Khanh Tran, Ashleigh Hinrichs

Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

Section 1

The Society of the Spectacle was written by Guy Debord in a post-World War II world. The book is a series of short theses about the emerging world, and specifically capitalism and its relation to mass media. Debord believes that capitalism is an emerging evil that will destroy all human interaction. He reveals that all life is presented as a spectacle. The spectacle is the “social relationship between people that is mediated by images.” [4] In essence the spectacle is the capitalization of images and their mass representation is human life.He believes that the spectacle is slowly becoming not part of society, but society. This progress is leading to a deceitful world in which everything is an illusion. Debord believes that the spectacle is in the process of taking over all aspects of human interaction because humans have subjugated themselves to the economy, and therefore the spectacle. He attempts to show that the spectacle is authoritarian and relates it to archaic principles of absolute monarchy. At the time, he wanted to influence French individuals so as to prevent France from following the liberal model which was synonymous to capitalism for a more Marxist model. As a Marxist theorist he is biased to the idea of capitalism. His approach to capitalism is different to those of others as he describes capitalism as a producer of mass media. He believes that in a capitalist nation all human relations are governed by mass media to the point that all people are alienated. People are no longer living in a realistic world but instead are consumed by the desire to have more and it is that desire that drives away all other relations. He argues that the capitalists have distorted all relationships because they have all become transactional, reducing life to the spectacle.

Section 2

In this text, Guy Debord presents the commodity as the fundamental aspect of the spectacle, which is the concurrence of capitalism and mass media. Since the importance of images has come to replace actual social relations, the spectacle utilizes these images to convey the necessity of the commodity and the relationship between the commodity and money, the fetishism of the commodity. The spectacle creates an unceasing social desire and demand for goods and this, consequently, resulted in the replacement of the production of quality with production of quantity. Thus, the growing market created a shift from the small-scale production of the Pre-Industrial Revolution period to large-scale production. This growth also converted human labor into a commodity in its own right, for quantitative development relies on a large human work force. The economy, now being the foundation of social life, has transformed the world by exerting its dominance through the generation of commodity. Furthermore, the capitalist economy has washed away the importance of use value. The usefulness of a commodity is now simply considered as an aspect of exchange value and the illusion of commodity consumption. According to Debord, the capitalist economy is a constant and endless cycle of production and consumption where there is no escape because being a part of the system is the necessary means of survival. The author continues by writing that the conjunction of capitalism and mass media, the spectacle, will forever continue to expand as long as there is privation and the desire to have is present in society. However, Debord predicts that this system is bound for downfall because society and the economy are mutually dependent on one another. When and if society breaks out of its unconsciousness and comes to the realization of the immense amount of domination that the economy possesses, the economy will lose its control and power.

Marc Hayward, “Vernacular Geopolitics and Media Economics in and Enlarged Europe”

The relationship between Italian media and Saudi capital can tell us about the role of media in an Enlarged Europe.
Saudi Prince Al Waleed purchased Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s shares in the Mediaset television networks in order for the Prime minister to avoid contravening conflict of interest laws.
Al Waleed was under investigation under possible involvement in financing the World Trade Center Attacks.
Ben Ammar has a central role in negotiating the distribution agreement between RAI and Al Baraka Investments for the distribution of RAI International.
The interest in Prince Al Waleed, Dalla Al Baraka Investment Bank and Ben Ammar is related to the vernacular geopolitical knowledge that defined aspects of life in Europe post Sept. 11. Media coverage of relationship between these two entities was framed by cultural and political contexts that emerged in the aftermath of the attacks.
Attention to these events shows issue of relationship between cultural identity and economic activity. Economy has become a site of significance, through which members of the national population identified themselves as having something in common. The institutional and economic organization of broadcasting and the nature of its content and reception are not separable. Therefore, political economy of the media becomes a part of media representation.
This case of investment in transnational Italian media provides an example for one of the problems of media in an enlarged Europe. Mappings of political economies of media and information are themselves a product of power relations they seek to describe, and do not just exist outside of them.


link to Al Baraka:

Alex Benady, “Maurice Lévy: The Napoleon of advertising”

Maurice Levy, chief executive of Publicis, a French global advertising behemoth. He is the first Frenchman to have “world domination” on his to-do list since Napoleon, via this advertising agency. He has brought this company to the top, regarded by many as the best ad agency in the world. He transformed it from a regional ad agency into a global communication powerhouse. Publicis has become a global contender in advertising. However, it is rare to see a French agency (all big firms are Anglo-Saxon, German, and Japanese). Advertising and marketing are generally considered Anglo-Saxon skills. British work usually includes humor and demonstration of the product. American ads are head-on in their approach, presenting product, benefit and rationalization. French creative work down plays rational and plays up emotional, emphasizing aesthetic aspects. There is a handicap to demonstrate that a French agency can be creative.
Publicis dominates in size, but it also needs flexibility, and the willingness to absorb new ideas to keep it a float. Present and future campaigns now need a digital element—not just internet now, but the ability to reach cell phones.

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