Thursday, September 25, 2008

Consumer Self-Taxonomy

The other day I was cruising around on the INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY and accidentally rolled my mouse over an orange, rectangular ad that was at the top of the window at which I was looking. No big deal, right? Well, simply moving the cursor onto this orange area started off a chain of people (some recognizable, i.e. Pharrell Williams and Eva Longoria) identifying themselves as PCs and telling me the interesting jobs they do, clothes they wear, ways the help the world, et cetera. At first these messages were a bit disorienting, but I soon identified the rectangle as part of the new MICROSOFT marketing campaign, no doubt in response to the recent APPLE commercials that show a young, cool-looking JUSTIN LONG identifying himself as a MAC and ragging on the square, nerdy man who is understood to be a PC.

After having my interest piqued by this internet snippet of the ad, I consulted YOUTUBE to see what other incarnations this campaign has taken and I viewed the minute-long television spot. This version had even MORE interesting people proclaiming themselves to be PCs and giving examples of all the opportunities one can encounter by choosing MICROSOFT instead of APPLE.

Shortly after experiencing these advertisements, I found myself sitting in class waiting for the professor to arrive when two classmates, one of whom was seated behind his APPLE laptop, brought up the new MICROSOFT ad campaign and the two of them began to chide both the commercials and the company itself and even went so far as to denounce those who happen to use a MICROSOFT product. They listed off a few new products that each company made and proclaimed APPLE to be the superior electronics producer.

In meditating on the nature of these advertisements and my two classmates' conversation I have been left dumbstruck by how seriously some people take their products. WINDOW's new campaign shows people from every walk of life DEFINING themselves by the computers they choose to buy and use and my classmates seem to have adopted this method of self-taxonomy. In my AMERICAN AUTOBIOGRAPHY class and my '50s AND '60s CINEMA class we have been reading about the SHAMELESS CONSUMERISM that seemed to take over America in the 1950s. In each class we have seen the purchasing of now standard appliances like the refrigerator or toaster oven turned into a family event in which friends would come to said family's house to see the new appliance in action. Many other people in my class who speak up about the subject distance themselves from these kind of events because now it seems ridiculous get excited about a toaster, but what does not seem to get mentioned are the countless other items that are put on pedestals and coveted in modern America. The once-exciting oven or vacuum cleaner has now been replaced by items like MACs, PCs or VIDEO GAME CONSOLES. Families still invite friends over to herald their new purchases, but these products have now taken the form of BLUERAY-PLAYING,HIGH-DEFINITON TELEVISIONS or similar items.

I did community service at a nearby Christian thrift store, HIS HOUSE MINISTRIES, a few days ago and two other people with whom I was working (one a young man of about 18, the other an older fellow probably in his late thirties) immediately started up a purchase-charged conversation when the younger one was examining his IPHONE (pictured, right) whilst the elder talked about his IPOD. I listened to them talk for quite a while that day and the conversation seldom strayed from the subject of CELLULAR PHONES, TELEVISION SETS and CARS. In between discussions of products, each seemed hard-pressed to come up with conversational topics beyond the WEATHER or the FLOW OF TRAFFIC.

I cannot tell if the same CONSUMERISM that took over America in the 1950s is increasingly conquering minds or if its rate is staying the same, but simply selecting new products and new ways to target the CONSUMERS. There is another recent phenomenon becoming prevalent at least in the greater COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA that involves people BUYING huge decals emblazoned with logos of, say, REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS and getting them placed onto their cars. People are becoming so wrapped up in what they buy that they are actually PAYING the company to ADVERTISE its product!

Here, where I should be providing closing words, this whole situation leaves me at somewhat of a loss for them. I often attempt to end BLOG POSTS with either solutions or questions, but I cannot seem to conjure either right now, only these above observations.

1 comment:

ayoungpioneer said...

I'm reminded of your bike with the new layout and whatnot.