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Old 01-28-2007, 10:34 AM   #561 (permalink)
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Yes, ma'am, I am fooling myself. Thankyou for clarifying that.
I only wish I'd get manipulated more often and more effectively.
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Old 01-28-2007, 11:35 AM   #562 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ourcrazymodern?
Yes, ma'am, I am fooling myself. Thankyou for clarifying that.
I only wish I'd get manipulated more often and more effectively.
I don't think that it is possible for the average person to be manipulated more effectively. Our entire society screams the Battle-Cry, "We are unique, We are special!" Then after asserting our uniqueness, statistics show that we go and buy all of the things that we are told we HAVE to have in order to be unique, beautiful or special. Some are more resistant to this manipulation than others, but no one is completely impervious to it.

I see it kind of like the old church adage about Satan. "The greatest trick Satan ever pulled was convincing the world that he wasn't real." Well, the greatest trick that media has ever pulled is convincing us that we are free-thinking and unique. You know, snowflakes and all of that...
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Old 01-28-2007, 12:11 PM   #563 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tangledweb
I don't think that it is possible for the average person to be manipulated more effectively. Our entire society screams the Battle-Cry, "We are unique, We are special!" Then after asserting our uniqueness, statistics show that we go and buy all of the things that we are told we HAVE to have in order to be unique, beautiful or special. Some are more resistant to this manipulation than others, but no one is completely impervious to it.

I see it kind of like the old church adage about Satan. "The greatest trick Satan ever pulled was convincing the world that he wasn't real." Well, the greatest trick that media has ever pulled is convincing us that we are free-thinking and unique. You know, snowflakes and all of that...
I was reading and article the other day about Apple and the motto, "Think Different" being contrasted by the idea that it's really "Think Like Steve Jobs." What interested me about this article was recently I saw the 1984 commercial again, and they play that to be the IBM crowd, but in my mind I see the Apple followers, blindly following Apple.
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Old 01-28-2007, 02:25 PM   #564 (permalink)
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Oh, what a tangledweb we weave...

I'm sure our individual packaging gives us uniqueness, at least. According to 562 we don't even make up our own minds, and I think we can't help but.
The entertainment we get out of others becomes part of it, of course, but I don't think you can claim that our thinking all comes from the outside...
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Old 02-07-2007, 03:51 PM   #565 (permalink)
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M&M Mars Changes Its Marketing to Kids

In today's Star Ledger:
Quote:
Mars Inc., the maker of M&Ms and other top-selling candy and snack brands, has decided to stop marketing its core products to children under 12 by the end of this year.

That not only goes for M&Ms, but also for kiddie favorites like Snickers, Milky Way candy bars, Twix, Skittles and Starburst.

"It's a global commitment," said company spokeswoman Marlene Machut. The policy, she said, came about after the European Union authority DG Sanco asked the company about its ads targeting children. DG Sanco, similar to this country's FDA, oversees health and consumer protection in countries belonging to the EU.

Last week, Mars sent a letter to DG Sanco saying it would halt advertising to the under-12 set by the end of this year, both in the U.S. and abroad.

How deeply the move would cut into the Mars company's sales is not clear. Buying candy on the way home from school is an age-old American institution.

Justin Brody, a 12-year-old from Westfield interviewed on his way home from school yesterday, said he often stops at Baron's Drug Store on East Broad Street with his friends to satisfy his cravings.

Justin is a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Snickers man. A buddy, Chris Walsh, said he likes Peanut Chews, while pal Alec Romano said he favored mint truffles from Brummer's Chocolate, a local gourmet shop.

Justin said his tastebuds, not advertising, drive his spending.
Rest of Story
A nutritionisted commented: "It would be very good if they could get away from the adorable M&M characters."
I've eaten M&M's and other candies since I was a toddler. My first memory is being handed a sheet of candy buttons while sitting in my stroller(I was about 18 months old).
While Saturday morning cartoons are normally inundated with commercials touting junkfood, it is ultimately the parents who buy the stuff and make the decisions about what goes into their kids. I just got home from grocery shopping. This is the snackfood list: 4 boxes of cupcakes, 3 bags of cookies, 3 boxes of brownie mix, 2 containers of jelly hearts, 2 containers of ice cream. I will eat a lot of this and it will probably last this family of four about a week. I am aware they are not healthy choices-I didn't need a commercial to make me buy them and the lack of said commercial is not going to prevent me from doing so.
I also don't get the cut-off age of 12...so a commercial aimed at a 14 year old won't be seen by younger kids?
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Old 02-19-2007, 04:55 PM   #566 (permalink)
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Ourcrazymodern?

You've reinvigorated the discussion and thank you for that.
I'm sure you and many others with interest in this subject will find some value in reviewing some sizeable portion of the large amount of material that buttresses my point of view:

http://www.regainyourbrain.org/regai...les%20list.htm
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Old 02-19-2007, 10:01 PM   #567 (permalink)
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The article about Bhutan and the impact of introducing television to that country is....I was going to say disturbing, but it's not surprising.
Quote:
Bhutan's isolation has made the impact of television all the clearer, even if the government chooses to ignore it. Consider the results of the unofficial impact study. One third of girls now want to look more American (whiter skin, blond hair). A similar proportion have new approaches to relationships (boyfriends not husbands, sex not marriage). More than 35% of parents prefer to watch TV than talk to their children. Almost 50% of the children watch for up to 12 hours a day. Is this how we came to live in our Big Brother society, mesmerised by the fate of minor celebrities fighting in the jungle?
Everyone is as yet too polite to say it, but, like all of us, the Dragon King underestimated the power of TV, perceiving it as a benign and controllable force, allowing it free rein, believing that his kingdom's culture was strong enough to resist its messages. But television is a portal, and in Bhutan it is systematically replacing one culture with another, skewing the notion of Gross National Happiness, persuading a nation of novice Buddhist consumers to become preoccupied with themselves, rather than searching for their self.
Kind of makes me question what's civilized about civilization...here was a nation, for all intents and purposes, as civilized and enlightened as one should be without outside influences and tv comes in and it all goes to hell....
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Old 02-23-2007, 08:21 AM   #568 (permalink)
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Good contributers to this thread,

As a result of several server changes and a crash or two, some of the initial material in this thread is incomplete.

Here is a piece with the original argument:

http://www.artelevision.com/styrofoa.../blogindex.htm

The rest of the source items I used to construct the original version of the thread are here:

http://www.artelevision.com/styrofoamheads/index2.htm
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Old 02-23-2007, 07:17 PM   #569 (permalink)
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cut and paste...no work?....xoxoxoo
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Old 02-26-2007, 12:37 PM   #570 (permalink)
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bobby,
after several melted drives - from lightning strikes, I can only slowly recreate the relevant items.

There is a large volume of material referenced in this thread - most of it is still online.
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Old 02-28-2007, 05:45 AM   #571 (permalink)
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Neuromarketing



Here's a link for those of you who are convinced that you're stronger than the 8 billion bucks of private research money spent annualy on influencing your behavior:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...580370,00.html

The Coke/Pepsi experiment is a good one - indicating we favor things more for brand loyalty than for their intrinsic qualities.

The entire issue presents many articles on the human brain and mind. And it presents up-to-date information.

No matter what your position on all this, I think you'll find it a fascinating issue...

You know... "metathinking" (thinking about how we think).


***************************************************************


Here's a cool example of a subliminal quick cut.




After the first two shots we are inside a high-rise apartment looking out from behind a beige couch.

For an instant, there's an unclothed leg and a bare arm slouching, slinking, and dangling sexily over the edge of the couch. They are almost the same tone as the couch.
Our attention is diverted and we view the Ford Edge vehicle swiftly moving past their front window.

After that, we're back to the straight commercial narrative.
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Old 02-28-2007, 06:29 PM   #572 (permalink)
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fascinating article...
thanks art!
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Old 03-01-2007, 12:37 AM   #573 (permalink)
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Marketing is the home of modern day poetry.
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Old 04-01-2007, 01:47 PM   #574 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ch'i
Marketing is the home of modern day poetry.
There is more truth in this statement than one cares to address directly.

Poetry is meant too swat the emotions and offer a ne perspective on an ideal that might otherwise be not readily available to the audience.

What commercilization does is basically the same thing, but it seeks to not utterly confound and leave you thinking, yet rather always leave a lasting impression that can be triggered time and time again.
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Old 05-03-2007, 01:58 PM   #575 (permalink)
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http://savemanny.blogspot.com/2007/0...e-is-fake.html
perfect manipulation....

Everything you see is fake
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Old 05-14-2007, 07:52 AM   #576 (permalink)
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another good vid about manipulating video via editing choices

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Old 06-15-2007, 07:19 AM   #577 (permalink)
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voluntary curbing on marketing to children or more media manipulation for perception?
Quote:
June 14, 2007
Kellogg to Curb Marketing of Foods to Children
By ANDREW MARTIN
LINK
Froot Loops’ days on Saturday morning television may be numbered.

The Kellogg Company announced today that it will phase out advertising its products to children under age 12 unless the foods meet specific nutrition guidelines for calories, sugar, fat and sodium.

Kellogg also announced that it would stop using licensed characters or branded toys to promote foods unless the products meet the nutrition guidelines.

The voluntary changes, which will be put in place over the next year and a half, will apply to about half of the products that Kellogg currently markets to children worldwide, including Froot Loops and Apple Jacks cereals and some varieties of Pop Tarts.

The president and chief executive, David Mackay, said those products would either be reformulated to meet the nutrition guidelines or would no longer be advertised to children.

“It is a big change,” Mr. Mackey said. “Where we can make the changes without negatively impacting the taste of the product, we will.”

But if the product cannot be reformulated, Mr. Mackey said, the company will either market it to an older audience or stop advertising it.

The policy changes come 16 months after Kellogg and Viacom, the parent company of Nickelodeon, were threatened with a lawsuit over their children’s advertising by two advocacy groups, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and two Massachusetts parents.

Because of the changes by Kellogg, the groups said they would not proceed with the lawsuit against the company. Viacom was not part of today’s announcement.

“Kellogg’s position has really evolved over those months from pretty much ‘no way’ to acceptance of some nutrient criteria,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He said he hoped the Kellogg announcement would lead its competitors to adopt even tougher standards for food advertising to children.

Susan Linn, the co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said Kellogg’s decision to stop using licensed characters on sugary food was particularly significant. “Until now the industry has absolutely dug in their heels,” Ms. Linn said.

In the last several years, health officials have repeatedly warned that the steady stream of food ads aimed at children is contributing to the number of overweight or obese children, which has soared over the last four decades.

Some countries have banned advertising of nutritionally questionable food to children altogether, and some members of Congress have suggested that federal regulation may be needed in the United States, too. The food industry has promised to bolster its own self-regulation.

Last November, for instance, 10 of the largest food and beverage companies, including McDonald’s, General Mills and Kellogg, vowed that at least half of their advertising directed at children under the age of 12 would promote healthier foods or encourage active lifestyles.

The companies also agreed not to advertise in elementary schools and to reduce the use of licensed characters to promote food. Those companies are expected to complete individual plans for how they will address the guidelines in the next 60 days or so.

But like Kellogg, a few companies have already unveiled tougher standards for advertising to children. Last October, for instance, Walt Disney said it would allow its characters to be used in food advertising only if the products complied with nutritional standards.

And in 2005, Kraft Foods announced that it would stop advertising to children products that did not meet specific nutrition guidelines.

Under Kellogg’s new guidelines, food advertised on television, radio, Web sites and in print that have an audience that is 50 percent or more children under the age of 12 will have to meet the new nutrition standards. Kellogg already had a policy of not aiming advertising at children younger than 6, so the new guidelines apply to children 6 through 11.

Kellogg officials said about 27 percent of its advertising budget in the United States aims at that age group.

Under the new nutrition standards, one serving of food must have no more than 200 calories, no trans fat and no more than 2 grams of saturated fat, no more than 230 milligrams of sodium (except for Eggo frozen waffles) and no more than 12 grams of sugar.

Cocoa Krispies cereal would not qualify because one serving has 14 grams of sugar. But Kellogg could still advertise Frosted Flakes to children because it has 11 grams of sugar. Shrek cereal does not meet the criteria either because it has 16 grams of sugar per serving and uses a licensed character.

In a related initiative, Kellogg said it would introduce new Nutrition at a Glance labels on the top right-hand corner of cereal boxes this year to make it easier for consumers to glean nutrition information.

Already a hit in Europe and Australia, the new labels will take information from the Nutrition Facts panel on the side of the boxes, which are mandated by the federal government, and highlight important facts on the front of the box.

The new labels will show consumers the percentage of calories, total fat and sodium in a single serving, based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet, and it will also display grams of sugar and specific nutrients like fiber and calcium.
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Old 09-09-2007, 03:55 AM   #578 (permalink)
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This advert is unique in these annals.

Very illuminating, I think.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg subliminal_advert.jpg (26.4 KB, 207 views)
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Old 09-10-2007, 07:01 AM   #579 (permalink)
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Quick Method of Getting Up to Speed on this Thread

The following page URL contains an additional overview of this subject and links. =
http://www.subliminal-message.info/

I have presented the view that advertising and consumer culture is nothing more than a collection of liminal and subliminal attempts to influence our behavior; these attempts have been entirely successful; and we are mere automata.

Opposing points of view by good members here take up just about 50%$ of the thread as well.

Your thoughts?
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Old 11-02-2007, 07:43 PM   #580 (permalink)
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This thread is one of my favorite ones ever posted on any internet forum I've seen.

I have a question for you all -- do you think this mass media thing is inherently negative? I mean, sure it can be bad in certain contexts. It can also be entertaining. It can also be very fascinating to think about how it shapes our lives. It's also an insight into our collective psyche, relative to where you're from and what types of media has influenced you.

I've learned to recognize propaganda from a relatively early age. I really tend to associate that with mass media mind control. I guess the bad part of it can come from when people don't realize they're being taken for a ride. For me, it can be fascinating and totally hilarious at times, too.


Also it can be nostalgic:

(Compilation of 80's TV commercials -- I remember almost all of them, reminds me of my childhood)

I love seeing that shit again!!


(Hello Ladies!)
Smoking sure is sexy! A sure winner!!





(Watch, Ride, and Report!!! Completely ridiculous, but I actually had seen this poster on the Brunswick line (DC-area light rail in Maryland))



Does anyone think that sometimes the mass media intentionally goes over the top, either a) just to see who falls for it; b) maybe for a purpose that appears to be legit, either political or monetary -- whatever theirs may be; or c) just for comedy purposes? Is their intention really to take advantage of us, harm us, or perhaps provide entertainment for the people who "get it"?

It really seems to me that a lot of the creators of this material almost know what our different reactions are going to be beforehand.

If I was in mass marketing, I think I'd go for the comedy option just to see how much I'd get away with. Remember, 9 out of 10 doctors smoke Camels!

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Old 11-05-2007, 08:53 AM   #581 (permalink)
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Thank_You_F_H,

As it is an 8 billion buck annual business - (privately (corporate) funded research into behavioral modification - focused on the single goal of influencing consumers, I do not see such a thing as "over the top" in relation to media - unless it's understood it has been an over-the-top-business for years and decades.

Again, I find the saddest and most counterproductive situation to be the fact that individuals persist in believing they can be free of media influence in some way - i.e. that one person can withstand the onslaught of billion buck behavior mod research....

As evidenced by some comments here - there are many very good people who hold this (virtually impossible) belief.

As for whether we live actual lives or live within thoroughly mediated realities and mindsets:

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php...show_article=1

Your comments are much appreciated.
Thanks,
Art
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Old 11-10-2007, 10:43 AM   #582 (permalink)
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The tactics of media are so inclusive that we actually use what the've taught us. Even having garage sales, we know enough to saturate the neighborhood with ads.
I work for a photography studio. A good part of the business is school and sports leagues photography; my boss does portraiture. We recently including flyers toting her half of the business into the packages going to the schools. There's no way we would get 1,000 families coming in, but if we get even 10 as a direct result of those flyers, we did well. Since she has a degree in marketing, she knows full well the impact of saturation; that even if someone doesn't immediately react, now it's in their head that "Hey, XXX studios might be able to do this.....". And that's the crux of mass media-to make us think that we're not reacting when, in fact, we always are.
I notice that grocery stores always put up some major named product on their endcaps with "Sale" signs....yet more often than not, those sales are more money than a competitor's. I'm cheap enough to take a look at the competition, but more likely than not, many just grab the endcap product as an afterthought. Mission accomplished.
Another smart move: Things like Coke Points. I like both Pepsi and Coke, even RC, but what do I buy? Coke....and their points are only 3 per cap and the items are cheezy for anything under 1,000 points. So we buy more Coke.
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Old 11-13-2007, 09:10 AM   #583 (permalink)
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Subliminal Advertising

The problem with modern day marketing is to not be melo-dramatic, but to utilise subtle techniques that become gradually repeated as a running commentary without the consumer being consciously aware of it occurring. So most people give the response that ' I am not taking in by advertising', 'I have my own mind, my own opinions.' This is true, but it is not just a matter of time spent with these media tools, but the way in which it is delivered. The proof is in the pudding. Why else would the advertising slots in between the SuperBowl final, or the World Cup final be most expensive, because thats when they can double or triple their profits. A good book to read is, 'Can't buy my love', cant think of the author off the top of my head, but it also addresses how alcohol, cigarettes, and other valuable commodities have been manipulated in society, just take the difference of the public opinion on cigarettes just twenty years ago, and now....it is not about the knowledge that it is unhealthy, it goes much deeper. Governments could apply the same techniques to alcohol, obesity and oil, but where the money in that!
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Old 11-23-2007, 06:52 PM   #584 (permalink)
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Every so often I go on an extended hunt for mind-influence-related material - I enjoy sifting through results to the very last returned page. Using Google, it can take 40 pages or more to turn up something entertaining and/or insightful. YouTube, being less ad stuffed, takes a few clicks on the subject of mass media mind control to discover something interesting. The problem is they are generally less significant. So it's a six-of-one deal.

In any event... The last few posts here are moving us in this direction, so...

I'll enter some of my own noteworthy recent finds from various sources to inspire us to continue the hunt...

<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/0Vy7h97AOsw&rel=1"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/0Vy7h97AOsw&rel=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>


The real nature of this thread is more exploratory than decisive. Some examples are patently absurd (yet interesting still). Some however are truly mind-manifesting, and so forth.
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Old 02-17-2008, 10:29 AM   #585 (permalink)
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A close reading of this thread indicates I'm not promoting a narrow definition of the term "subliminal." I use the word to delineate the fact that a large part of what we experience (actually the largest part) is perceived unconsciously.

So it's not always about looking at an ad or any other piece of propaganda and discovering hidden messages or meanings. Many times it is simply the kind of implicit messages that are being received., to wit: The many implicit messages relating to our perception of men and women.

The following story focuses on the "offensive to women" aspect of ads but an ad that is offensive to women is also offensive to men. Stereotypical males are often portrayed in the ads and the woman-as-sex-object theme objectifies male sexuality as well. All in all though, the story plus the photos accompanying it are illuminating.

*
text follows:

Quote:
I was reading an article on MSNBC.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17490782/site/... /)on Dolce & Gabbana having to pull some of their ads because womens' groups thought they were inappropriate and, one in particular, promoted rape. Knowing D&G as I do, I've seen their ads through the years and don't think much of them because, well, it's D&G - their ads follow along in the mode of Helmut Newton and other "risque" photographers. Or am I being too tolerant? I'm not really sure.

As I read further in the article, there's also an interview with Kim Gandy of NOW and a link to the ads they promote as "Offensive To Women" (http://loveyourbody.nowfoundation.org/offe... ). Now, I'm all for more realistic models being used in advertising and fashion and don't like blatantly abusive ads - but I'm not sure I'm offended by each of these ads. I'm going to hold off saying anything more specific until others have weighed in - and that's my question: are these ads really offensive?

I would certainly say that some are stupid - and, yes, the Calvin Klein ad just makes me want to feed her. But, beyond that, are you offended by these ads? Is it really about ads that are offensive against women or more about the fact that, for the most part, Madison Ave. treats us like we're drooling morons? I've seen some advertising that might be pretty offensive to men too (including a similar one with all men from D&G). Are they getting upset over nothing? Or over the wrong thing? Or are they correct in labeling these as offensive? I'm curious to see what other women (and men too!) think.
End Quote.

*

The images can be found here: http://journals.democraticunderground.com/AZBlue/6
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Old 02-17-2008, 10:54 AM   #586 (permalink)
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I would certainly say that some are stupid - and, yes, the Calvin Klein ad just makes me want to feed her. But, beyond that, are you offended by these ads? To an extent, yes, but it's the nature of the game. The ads are meant to provoke and therefore bring the product to the subconscious. It is not unlike the child who acts bad to get attention because acting good got him nothing.
Is it really about ads that are offensive against women or more about the fact that, for the most part, Madison Ave. treats us like we're drooling morons? Both. "Let's get these spending stupid males to think buying our product will make them cool. And everyone knows cool guys treat their women like shit. Real women like that. I've seen some advertising that might be pretty offensive to men too (including a similar one with all men from D&G). Are they getting upset over nothing? Or over the wrong thing? Or are they correct in labeling these as offensive? My view is that they are offensive to everyone, women because of the overt submissiveness/subservient role they're placed in and to men because it's assumed that that is what is desired from them. But, like the quote says, when all else fails, insert sex.
This all makes me sound prudish, something I could never be accused of. But, I find that ads such as these, that don't even attempt to be subliminal, are an insult to any reasonable adult. But, here we are, talking about them, so, really, they've accomplished at least partly what they set out to do. 1 point=media.
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Old 03-21-2008, 04:34 AM   #587 (permalink)
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two women - one crotch

We3 happened to notice this sub independently. It's an ON flyer we recently received. As it fell out of the Sunday paper, I glanced at the bottom of the ad and read it as a spread-leg open crotch shot. After a moment I realized there were two ladies involved. The image is so posed that I must hypothesize that it did not just slip by the professional photographer who chose it from hundreds of shots, the art director who selected it as the front cover image, the ad execs who had it pinned to their walls, and the editorial staff who does something for a living.

Later sus was walking by the flyer - it was draped over a hammock - as flyers sometimes are. Its lower edges were prominent and she mentioned her first reading of the image, which was the same as mine.





*

I have hundreds of this sort of images. It's always fun to see a new one and pick it out from among the thousands of images that pass our eyes each week.



Now that we're a bit farther down the page, here's the most curiously posed detail section of the ad:


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Old 03-23-2008, 08:46 AM   #588 (permalink)
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Of course it's intentional. I've learned from my new line of work that every single minute detail is looked over and looked over again and while some things "might" get missed, odds are what's left is intentional. Whether it's to get one to do a second take when seeing the ad-which I am inclined to think-or to get a chuckle in the production room, I don't know....
Guess I'll have to look at the ads in the Sunday paper a little more closely, just for such things.
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:43 AM   #589 (permalink)
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im liking this thread just as much as the "subliminal messages in advertising" thread you had years back.

i guess its pretty much the same thing, here. but point is, im liking it.
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Old 03-26-2008, 04:11 AM   #590 (permalink)
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SSJTWIZTA , Thanks.

Your insights are valued. How do you come to terms with the daily doses of manipulation we are exposed to?

I think we can help each other by sharing ideas on how best to keep our minds free of all this - at least as much as it is possible to be.


*

In other words, how best to contribute to the RESISTANCE?
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Old 03-26-2008, 04:19 AM   #591 (permalink)
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Well thanks, art.

I have not one idea as of now. But then again im lacking sleep and feeling rather brain dead.

my first thought is:
simply ignore it.

but thats not very effective, now is it?

oh, i almost forgot.

i found this quite interesting. Is this actually an advertisement?

the only thing that comes to mind seeing this is "no way."

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARTelevision
This advert is unique in these annals.

Very illuminating, I think.
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Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
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Then they came for me And there was no one left to speak out for me.
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Old 03-26-2008, 04:31 AM   #592 (permalink)
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This isn't a perfect fit, but I think this text:

The Society of the Spectacle, by Guy Debord back in 1967.

I believe it's totally in the spirit of what ARTelevision calls THE RESISTANCE, as is the greater idea which The Situationists followed - and led directly to punk.

Beware, heavy concepts (many radically leftist) and vocabulary (much Marx terminology regarding political economy, etc) are deployed therein.

As ever, your mileage may vary.
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Old 03-26-2008, 04:35 AM   #593 (permalink)
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Oi!

i need to read that after i catch some Z's
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:51 AM   #594 (permalink)
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Derren Brown (wiki bio) is an expert in NLP and other manipulative techniques and uses them as an entertainer in the UK.

This following video (~7mins) is from a show glorifying him, so take it with a fair amount of salt if you would like to comfort yourself with it, but to anyone moderately interested in psychology, it shouldn't be surprising.

Subliminal Advertising

To me, I think that we as individuals are exposed to this unconscious manipulation almost every waking second of our lives not just when we're conscious of our exposure (lets skip the memory-organising aspect of sleep which doubtless reinforces the messages).

We need to carefully select the propaganda we want to expose ourselves to and attempt to rebalance the propaganda that we are conscious of our exposure to.

Question everything.
Read and watch nakedly propagandist material from sources which are in opposition to those you are aware of your exposure to.
Stop believing in absolutes.

Before you buy or buy into anything, question even your own motives.

I think living in a country without understanding the language at all can give you some clear breathing space after some time, too. (i've done this - by accident, not design - for most of my adult life)

Sounds taxing, but there's a lot of effort that goes into our manipulation, so it stands to reason that there's no quick fix to it.

(Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you. *bites nails down to wrist*)
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"I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place." - Winston Churchill, 1937 --{ORLY?}--

Last edited by tisonlyi; 03-26-2008 at 11:53 AM.. Reason: "memory-organising aspect of memory" - duh
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Old 04-24-2008, 07:48 AM   #595 (permalink)
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Thanks, tisonlyi.

DB is one of my favorite dudes using NLP in the media to expose mass-media techniques.

*

Here is a set of images. The first is taken from my buddy Cynthetiq's journal. The second is a detail of the ice cubes and drink glass. The third is the same image with highlights I quickly added to zero in on what I noticed upon inspection of the scene. The third is an animated gif of the previous images in sequence.







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Old 04-24-2008, 08:23 AM   #596 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARTelevision
Isn't this akin to finding the face of Jesus on a piece of burnt toast?

Even if the image is actually there and was placed there intentionally, do you think that such vague imagery has an effect on purchasing?
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Old 04-24-2008, 08:54 AM   #597 (permalink)
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sapiens, thanks for your sensible comments.

My intention here is to simply show the images - point out the possibilities - ask the same types of questions you are asking. These are the general positions I've taken throughout the thread. I'm fine with people making up their own minds - based on their own knowledge, research, experience, insight - and their reading of this thread.

Given my MFA training and experience working within art, ad, and marketing contexts, I have experienced these techniques being commonly known, discussed, and often employed. They are also frequently dismissed as paranoid fantasy and/or ineffective at best.

An image that has been created as a part of a million-dollar-plus media campaign has been pored over for weeks. It has been pinned to the walls of many professionals (from art and production people to consumer researchers, marketing reps, and corporate execs) well-trained and well-paid in utilizing techniques to influence consumer behavior in every way.

No matter what one decides one sees here, this is in no way similar to a random image found in burnt toast.

Probably the most interesting thing to me about the topic in general is just what occurs in our lives that can be termed "conscious," "unconscious," or "subconscious" activity.


To make categorical statements about the veracity of particular claims of intentionality really doesn't interest me. I enjoy pursuing the subject and have been engaged in this study for decades. I find it alternatively amusing, entertaining, fascinating, and potentially illuminating. I present the material in the hope that it may hold some similar interest for others.
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Old 04-24-2008, 09:37 AM   #598 (permalink)
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Art:
Regarding the ad you posted, I don't really care about the intentionality of the advertisers either. I wouldn't be surprised if advertisers manipulate images in such ways. I would be surprised if such subtle stimuli impacted consumer behavior. I've seen studies suggesting that priming people with images just below the level of conscious perception (very briefly) can affect people's conscious judgments of the valence (positive or negative) of following ambiguous image (Murphy & Zajonc, 1993). Such effects don't typically last much longer than the experimental session. I haven't seen convincing research that suggests that you can actually affect consumer behavior with such types of information. (I haven't read through this entire thread in a long time. So, someone might have cited something. I would welcome such references). The fact that the images are pored over by people who get paid a lot of money to influence consumer behavior doesn't convince me.

That said, I don't doubt the impact of mass media on our psychologies. For example, Kenrick & Gutierres (1980) demonstrated empirically that viewing images of attractive women affected men's judgments of their commitment to their long-term mates. Other studies have found that looking at pictures of attractive women changed men's reported career interests - biasing them toward higher earning careers (I don't recall the reference off the top of my head). Other studies I'm familiar with (and I'm sure others are as well) have suggested that unrealistic body images presented in the media affect women's perceptions of their own attractiveness. If brief exposure to such images has effects, what kind of effects can we expect from constant exposure throughout our daily lives? So, I do agree that mass media can have rather insidious effects on our lives. Generally, I also think that media education by parents might help to inoculate kids against some of the effects.

A little off topic, but regarding your interest in what occurs in our lives that can be termed "conscious," "unconscious," or "subconscious" activity. Have you ever read The Illusion of Conscious Will by Dan Wegner. He has a done a lot of interesting research on the effects of thought suppression - making a decision to avoid thinking about something actually increases the frequency that people think about the suppressed topic. His book covers conscious will more generally. I especially like the research he cites that suggests that when you reach for a can of soda on a table the areas of the brain responsible for controlling the motor movements involved are activated before the areas of the brain responsible for making the conscious decision to grab the soda. How that relates to the coke ad, I'm not sure.
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:29 PM   #599 (permalink)
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sapiens, that was the kind of thoughtful response I hope for when posting here. Thanks! It adds just the sort of critical-thinking dimension I would encourage we develop for the express purpose of staying as media-manipulation resistant as possible. I'm a bit more along the way than you in deciding that the billions of bucks spent on private corporate (and "secret" governmental) research into the fine points of how to influence and manipulate our consciousness and behavior have achieved stunning success. I see evidence of it all around me in the culture in general, in my friends, and in myself.

Yes, I admire the work of Daniel M. Wegner. I've quoted at length from his research in other venues where I publish. As to what it may have to do with public and private applications of the science of behavior modification, I'd say that if the conscious mind can be effectively demonstrated as bypassed in the processes of behavior, then a more powerful kind of control is achievable.
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Old 05-16-2008, 03:48 PM   #600 (permalink)
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View: Can a Dead Brand Live Again?
Source: NYTimes
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Can a Dead Brand Live Again?
Can a Dead Brand Live Again?
By ROB WALKER
Do you remember Brim?

The coffee brand? Perhaps you recall its advertising slogan: “Fill it to the rim — with Brim!” Those ads haven’t been shown in years, and Brim itself has been off retail shelves since the 1990s. Yet depending on how old you are, there’s a fair chance that there’s some echo of the Brim brand in your brain. That’s no surprise, given that from 1961 to around 1995, General Foods spent tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars to get it there. But General Foods disappeared into the conglomerate now known as Altria, which also acquired Kraft, maker of Maxwell House. With much smaller sales than that megabrand, Brim soon disappeared — except, perhaps, for a vague idea of Brim that lingered, and lingers even now, in the minds of millions of consumers.

What’s that worth? A small company in Chicago, called River West Brands, figures that it’s definitely worth something, and possibly quite a lot. The firm did its own research a year or so ago and claims that among people over the age of 25, Brim had 92 percent “aided national awareness.” What this means is that if you ask people anywhere in America if they have ever heard of Brim, about 9 out of 10 will say yes. If true, that’s potentially a big deal. Building that level of recognition for a new brand of coffee — or anything else — from scratch would involve an astronomical amount of money, a great deal of time, or both.

Marketers like to talk about something called brand “equity,” a combination of familiarity and positive associations that clearly has some sort of value, even if it’s impossible to measure in a convincing empirical way. Exploiting the equity of dead or dying brands — sometimes called ghost brands, orphan brands or zombie brands — is a topic many consumer-products firms, large and small, have wrestled with for years. River West’s approach is interesting for two reasons.

One is that for the most part the equity — the idea — is the only thing the company is interested in owning. River West acquires brands when the products themselves are dead, not merely ailing. Aside from Brim, the brands it acquired in the last few years include Underalls, Salon Selectives, Nuprin and the game maker Coleco, among others. “In most cases we’re dealing with a brand that only exists as intellectual property,” says Paul Earle, River West’s founder. “There’s no retail presence, no product, no distribution, no trucks, no plants. Nothing. All that exists is memory. We’re taking consumers’ memories and starting entire businesses.”

The other interesting thing is that when Earle talks about consumer memory, he is factoring in something curious: the faultiness of consumer memory. There is opportunity, he says, not just in what we remember but also in what we misremember.

River West is a young company, and few of its ideas have been directly tested in the marketplace. The revival of Brim, for instance, has yet to crystallize into a plan with real manufacturing and distribution partners. But River West is starting to bring some familiar names back into the consumer realm. It is thanks to River West that you can buy Nuprin again at CVS. The firm has also played a role in the return of Eagle Snacks to some grocery-store aisles. In late January, Drugstore.com began accepting orders for Salon Selectives, which is also making its way into 10,000 stores, including every Rite Aid in America and grocery chains like Winn-Dixie and Pathmark. And by way of a deal with River West, Phantom, a Canadian hosiery manufacturer, is pushing a new version of Underalls to department-store and boutique clients in the U.S.

Whether these brand-reanimation efforts pan out as a successful business strategy or not, they offer an unusual perspective on the relationship between brands and the brain. By and large, examinations of successful branding tend to focus on names like Harley-Davidson, Apple or Converse, which have developed “cult” followings. Such cases are misleading, though, because they are not typical of most of what we buy. A great deal of what happens in the consumer marketplace does not involve brands with zealous loyalists. What determines whether a brand lives or dies (or can even come back to life) is usually a quieter process that has more to do with mental shortcuts and assumptions and memories — and all the imperfections that come along with each of those things.

River West’s offices, on the 36th floor of the Chicago Board of Trade Building, are sprinkled with the bric-a-brac of obscure products: a Quisp cereal box, Ipana toothpaste packages, Duz detergent bottles. On a wall of Paul Earle’s office is a framed, five-foot-by-three-foot sheet of uncut “Wacky Packages” stickers — those 1970s trading-card-size brand-parody images that rendered the word Crust in the style of the Crest logo, for example. Earle has a Midwestern everyman quality about him: he’s compact, with a big and friendly let’s-get-along voice and a penchant for deadpan jokes. Only his designer-eyeglass frames deviate from his overall demeanor.

Earle loves brands. They are not mere commercial trademarks to him, but pieces of Americana. He seems not just nostalgic but almost hurt about the fate of the “castoff brands” of the world. “If commerce is part of the American fabric, then brands are part of the American fabric,” he said to me on one occasion. “When a brand goes away, a piece of Americana goes away.”

Earle’s professional entanglement with branding began at Saatchi & Saatchi, where he was a cog in a gigantic ad agency working for gigantic clients, like General Mills and Johnson & Johnson. That was in the mid-1990s, and he saw what happened as conglomerates merged: brands that didn’t have the potential for global scale got squeezed to the bottom shelf, or out of existence. He was attracted to the idea of working with “noncore” brands, but when he figured out that big-agency economics made it impractical, he left Saatchi and went to the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and then took a brand-management job at Kraft.

At Kraft he observed the same mergers-and-consolidation process from a different angle, and he seems to have found it equally frustrating. “These are American icons with loyal consumers,” he says. “It’s not their fault a $40 billion company doesn’t like them anymore. Consumers like them.” He sees reviving brands as “a civic mission” of sorts. “If it weren’t my job,” he said, “it would be my hobby.” He says this in a way that sounds not just plausible but hard to doubt.

Even so, he has set out to make this particular civic mission turn a profit. While he recognizes that a given brand might not be able to survive in the portfolio of a multinational, different sorts of business models might work to sustain it. As surely as the ownership of brands has consolidated through one megamerger after another, the consumer market seems to be moving in the opposite direction, with an individualism-fueled demand for almost unlimited variety. Earle’s theory is that such demand means room for brands like the ones River West owns, and his idea is facing its most significant test to date, by way of the reanimation of Salon Selectives.

Helene Curtis began selling this line of shampoos in 1987, and sales shot past the $100 million mark within a year or so. It was, one Wall Street enthusiast claimed at the time, “probably the most successful hair-care launch in the history of the universe.” Heavily advertised, the brand was a pioneer of the sales pitch, now routine, of a “salon” product available for home use. Unilever bought Helene Curtis in 1996, acquiring a new batch of cosmetic, shampoo and deodorant brands that had to be integrated into those the conglomerate already offered.

It’s often hard to pin down the exact moment a brand disappears, because a product can linger on retail shelves for quite a while before it’s sold down or otherwise liquidated. But by the early 2000s, Salon Selectives had become a casualty of brand-portfolio consolidation. A few years later, River West acquired what was left of it: intellectual property like the trademarks and the original formulas.

River West’s partner in the Salon Selectives effort is called SSB, which has five full-time employees coordinating the efforts of various subcontractors (manufacturers, package-makers) out of River West’s offices. Selective Beauty is run by Gene Zeffren, a former top executive at Helene Curtis with a Ph.D. in chemistry. Earle and Zeffren are partly motivated by the belief that there is a core of Salon Selectives fans out there who miss their product and are eager to buy it again. You would think, then, that the goal would be to give those consumers their old brand back, just as it once was. And sure enough, when I visited Anne West, the chief marketing officer of the new Salon Selectives, there was an array of pink plastic bottle samples in her office, part of an attempt to match the old color as closely as possible. She showed me a video in which a surprising number of randomly confronted Chicagoans, asked if they remembered Salon Selectives, responded by singing the jingle.

Then she showed me storyboards for new Salon Selectives ads, which were not much like the original ones at all. She went on to explain that while the bottle color would be the same, its shape would be different. The reintroduced line also includes a number of new products, and the products are now more aggressively marketed as “customizable” (by hair length, thickness, texture, etc.) than they were in the earlier incarnation. Then there’s the apple scent. West said fans of the brand in its heyday frequently cited that signature smell as one of the things they missed most about the shampoos. So the new version will have an apple scent — but even that was being tweaked and “updated.” The bottom line is that Salon Selectives isn’t coming back just as it used to be, but sort of as it used to be.

West figures that fans of the brand who are nostalgic for their long-lost product just need to know that it’s back. But the real point now is to attract younger customers who probably never used the stuff. The name “Salon Selectives” might sound familiar to them, so the strategy must balance that familiarity with something that makes the product seem fresh and novel. Later West sent me the new Salon Selectives ads, now running on VH1, Lifetime and other cable networks. The spots do not announce the return of a favorite old brand, or even allude to the fact that Salon Selectives was ever gone. In one, a woman escapes from prison and immediately washes her hair. The cop who confronts her admits that she doesn’t look like an escaped con but (punch line) as if she “just stepped out of a salon.” This is followed by glimpses of the (pink) bottles and a quick “mix and match” pitch and then, at the very last second, a snippet of the familiar old jingle, rerecorded. West calls this snippet a “button,” and it clearly aims to function as the slightest mental nudge: this is something you know about.

Among River West’s various projects, this is actually one of the more conservative in testing the boundary between the positive associations of a familiar memory and the attractions of novelty. There’s less room to test that boundary because Salon Selectives hasn’t been “dormant” all that long: At least some fans of the old apple scent are going to have opinions about the “updated” version. Much will depend on specific associations with a product — which is not the same thing as a brand. Brands aren’t quite so tangible, so quantifiable. That’s what’s interesting about them.

One of Paul Earle’s professors at Kellogg was John F. Sherry Jr. (now at Notre Dame), who has devoted some study to “retromarketing” and “the revival of brand meaning.” In 2003 he wrote an article (with Stephen Brown of the University of Ulster and Robert V. Kozinets of Kellogg) on the subject for The Journal of Customer Behavior. “Retromarketing is not merely a matter of reviving dormant brands and foisting them on softhearted, dewy-eyed, nostalgia-stricken consumers,” they asserted. “It involves working with consumers to co-create an oasis of authenticity for tired and thirsty travelers through the desert of mass-produced marketing dreck.”

I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but Sherry turned out to be more straightforward in conversation. “There’s no real reason that a brand needs to die,” he told me, unless it is attached to a product that “functionally doesn’t work.” That is, as long as a given product can change to meet contemporary performance standards, “your success is really dependent on how skillful you are in managing the brand’s story so that it resonates with meaning that consumers like.”

The holy grail example of brand reanimation is the Volkswagen Beetle, which a few years ago rose from dormancy and became a hit all over again in an updated form that was both nostalgic and contemporary. The reintroduced Beetle layered “nostalgic reassurance” over modern functionality. “It’s a brand that’s memorable for a lot of different reasons,” Sherry said. “But largely because it evokes this past that never was — that was morally superior or simpler, an era of better craftsmanship. That kind of thing.”

Such abstract notions are much on display at the Licensing International Expo, an annual event at which the owners of cultural properties — TV shows, movies, cartoon characters — meet with makers of things and try to negotiate deals granting them a paid license to use the properties to add meaning and market value to whatever things they make. It is a good place to contemplate the business potential of “the brand” in free-floating form, unmoored to any product or company that may have actually created it. A surprising number of the symbols represented at the expo held last summer in New York were simply brand logos. Spam, for instance, had its own booth. IMC Licensing was there on behalf of its clients Oreo, Altoids, Dole and Oscar Mayer. At one point I encountered a person dressed up as a can of Lysol, which is represented by the Licensing Company.

Another firm that represents a number of consumer brands is the Beanstalk Group, which staked out a rather large chunk of floor space at the expo, complete with a coffee bar and about 20 tables. Owned by Omnicom Group, Beanstalk is the licensing firm for a wide range of cultural properties, from Harley-Davidson to Andy Warhol to the United States Army. None of these are dead brands, of course, but Beanstalk’s track record with converting brand meaning into revenue is the reason Paul Earle was at the licensing expo. Beanstalk was exploring strategies to revive the Coleco and Brim brands as, essentially, licensing fodder.

Michael Stone, the president and chief executive of Beanstalk, has a refined sense of the licensing business, and how consumer brands fit into it. He knows what many people think the business boils down to: I make plastic lunchboxes and you own the rights to reproduce images of Spider-Man. How about a Spider-Man lunchbox? Stone cheerfully explained to me that this is merely a “decorative” form of licensing, and that’s not his game. As a point of contrast, he told me about Beanstalk’s involvement with Stanley Works, the venerable maker of hand tools.

Stanley hired Beanstalk about nine years ago. Stanley conducted “consumer permission research” to try to determine where the Stanley brand could go. “I remember looking through the focus-group tests, and there was a guy who absolutely swore that he had a Stanley ladder in his garage.” Stone paused. “Stanley never made ladders.” This is an excellent example of what “brand equity” really means in the marketplace.

In contrast to the fanatical-devotion theory, part of the point of most branding is very specifically to circumvent conscious thought. Psychologists use the word “heuristics” to refer to the mental shortcuts and rules of thumb that allow us to resolve the various routine problems of everyday life without having to make a spreadsheet for every trivial decision. Brand owners want a way into your purchase heuristics. Often it is not so much a matter of, say, a Stanley Works fanatic seeking out all products bearing that trademark; it’s a matter of looking for a product and choosing one with a particular trademark that, for whatever reason, we find acceptable. This is not brand loyalty. It’s brand acquiescence.

We’ve all seen the Stanley name, for instance. And by and large, we trust it. We have a general idea of Stanley that fits into our hardware-store purchase heuristics. But there is a great deal of imperfection and vagueness in these thought processes, and that is good news for a licensor. It suggests that there’s potential — or “permission” — for the Stanley name to migrate onto new products.

What Beanstalk did not do when it took on Stanley as a client was recommend investing in a ladder-production facility and hiring a bunch of workers, plus a sales force to blitz potential retail channels. Stanley Works, as a company, has actually been moving in the opposite direction, closing factories and outsourcing its manufacturing since the 1980s. Instead, Beanstalk worked out a licensing deal with Werner, which was already the biggest maker and distributor of ladders in the country. “They needed another brand because they couldn’t expand the Werner brand anymore,” Stone said. So Werner started making and selling ladders with the Stanley name on them. This gave Werner a way to get more shelf space, reach more consumers and make more sales. What it gave Stanley was its name on a new product and a licensing fee. Beanstalk has worked out many such deals, hooking up the Stanley brand with manufacturers of work gloves and boots, power generators and a variety of other things that Stanley never made (and does not make now).

Too many such deals, or the wrong kinds, can boomerang: this happens with some regularity in the fashion world, when a famous designer name gets spread over so many products, with so little regard to quality, that the entire image of the brand sinks. Still, if you see a ladder made by Stanley, you may well think, Well, there’s a name I can trust. What you’re trusting, though, isn’t Stanley workers in Stanley factories upholding Stanley traditions and values under the watchful eye of Stanley managers. What you’re trusting is Stanley’s recognition that a badly made ladder with the Stanley name on it could be highly damaging to the Stanley brand. You are trusting Stanley’s recognition of the value of its brand and its competence in defending that value.

We circled back around to Beanstalk’s ideas for River West’s brands, particularly Brim. Stone mentioned White Cloud. White Cloud is a brand of toilet paper once owned by Procter & Gamble. P.& G. also owned the Charmin franchise, so eventually it let the trademarks on White Cloud expire. These were then acquired by an entrepreneur, who worked out a licensing deal with Wal-Mart to make White Cloud an exclusive Wal-Mart product. It became, essentially, a store brand, but infused with equity of mass-market familiarity. It’s very doubtful that the typical White Cloud buyer is aware that the product is available only at Wal-Mart. It’s also very doubtful that P.& G. (which would surely prefer that its Charmin didn’t have to compete against a brand that P.& G. itself created) will let anything like that happen again if it can possibly help it.

This is essentially the situation that River West brokered with the Nuprin brand, which was a dead line of ibuprofen painkillers (once upon a time backed by the widely known “Nupe it” ad campaign). Its trademarks were acquired by River West and sold to CVS, where it is back on the shelves as a stealth store brand. (And presumably enjoying better margins than it would if, like a traditional store brand, it competed solely on low price, not trustworthy-brand familiarity.) My read was that this is what Stone thought should happen to Brim — and that Earle had mixed feelings, believing, perhaps, that Brim could come back as something bigger. Even Stone seemed at least somewhat intrigued with the possibilities of licensing a brand that was familiar but dead. “With Stanley we have to be careful — this is a famous brand; we have to do everything right and mitigate all the risks,” he says. “But with Brim, the risks. . . .” He paused. “There really are no risks.”

This brings us to Earle’s ideas about the potential upside of faulty consumer memory. Maybe, for instance, you’re among those who remember Brim. But do you also remember that it was a decaf-only brand? That’s actually why you could “fill it to the rim.” River West’s research found that many who recall the Brim brand have forgotten the decaf detail.

The relationship between brands and memory (faulty or no) is a specialty of Kathy LaTour, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In one of her most interesting studies, she worked with Elizabeth Loftus, a memory specialist and now a professor at the University of California, Irvine, and a third researcher, Rhiannon Ellis, to take the issue to its logical extreme: What if, for example, an advertising campaign “implanted memories into consumers of things that never happened?”

The researchers found that subjects presented with a fake Disney World ad inviting them to “remember the characters of your youth: Mickey, Goofy . . . ” were significantly more likely to say they recalled that as children they had met “a favorite TV character at a theme resort” than those who didn’t see the ad. The fascinating thing was what happened when they repeated the experiment, tweaking the ads to include Bugs Bunny, who, of course, is not a Disney character at all. About 16 percent of subjects subsequently claimed that, as children, they shook hands with Bugs Bunny at a Disney theme park. Repeated fake-ad exposure apparently led to higher false-memory rates. In a separate study, Loftus asked subjects with Bugs in their memories what, exactly, they recalled about this incident; of these, 62 percent recounted shaking Bugs’s hand, and more than a quarter specifically recalled him saying, “What’s up, Doc?”

Earle says that this imperfection of memory can be used to enhance whatever new Brim he comes up with. This is “a benefit of dormancy,” he says. The brand equity has value on its own, but it can be grafted onto something newer and, perhaps, more innovative. “Consumers remember the kind of high-level essence of the brand,” he says. “They tend to forget the product specifics.” This, he figures, creates an opening: it gives the reintroduced version “permission” to forget that decaf-only limitation as well and morph into a full line of coffee varieties. “ ‘Fill it to the rim with Brim’ stands for full-flavored coffee,” Earle says, with a chuckle. “Fill it to the rim — it’s great stuff!”

Finding the deceased brands that consumers are likely to remember — sort of — is a process that can begin, of all places, in the library. Earle spent hours going through old issues of People, Time, Glamour and other magazines, “looking for brand names that sounded familiar but that I hadn’t seen lately.” This results in many, many possibilities that don’t work out for one reason or another. But every so often the process yields an Underalls.

Earle was intrigued with Underalls. Produced by Hanes from about 1975 to the mid-1990s, Underalls was once a prominent brand, advertised aggressively. (“O.K. America — show us your Underalls!”) It spawned “flanker” brands like Summeralls, Winteralls and Slenderalls. It was unique and memorable: a good brand. “You see the memorabilia on eBay,” Earle says. “That’s usually a good indicator.”

By way of MarketTools, a research company, River West asked 1,000 women ages 25 to 54 to answer an online survey about hosiery brands. About 850 did so, and among these, 72 percent had heard of Underalls. Among those who recognized the brand, about three-quarters remembered the “Show us your Underalls” tagline. Promising. But River West needed a partner to actually manufacture and distribute whatever the new version of Underalls might be.

It found that partner in Phantom, a hosiery maker based in Toronto. Phantom’s main product line is called Silks, the dominant hosiery brand in Canada. The company also manufactures a number of store brands. Phantom wanted to get into the crowded U.S. hosiery market, says Svetlana Sturgeon, vice president of sales and marketing for Phantom, and it made a certain amount of sense to leverage a name far more familiar to American consumers than Silks would be. Sturgeon jokes that, at first, she did not want to admit at meetings that she remembered the brand (“I’m much too young for that!”). But she did.

The point of the original Underalls was that they combined panties and stockings into one undergarment. (“They were the pioneers in the whole idea of eliminating panty lines,” is how Sturgeon puts this.) In early brainstorming sessions, Phantom and River West tried to come up with “the most expansive but credible definition” of the brand, Earle says. In this case that turned out to be “intimate-apparel solutions,” which means anything you wear under something else that’s “functional and fashion-forward,” Sturgeon says. This includes camisoles and bras and other things the original Underalls never sold. The San Francisco design firm Thinc came up with a new graphic identity and packaging ideas that referenced classic elements of the old ads, but radically updated them. New slogan: “Lovely underneath it all.” With the prototypes complete, Sturgeon has begun the process of meeting with boutique and department-store buyers, in the hope of getting products into stores, at least on a test level, in the fall.

Brand familiarity alone guarantees nothing. Sears owns several well-known brand names — Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard, the Sears name itself — and is viewed by Wall Street as a basket case. Multinationals routinely go through cycles of acquiring and creating brands and then paring back when, inevitably, some underperform. A tiny number of hard-core loyalists not only doesn’t mean a whole lot when reviving a brand, it might be a problem because those people do remember. A number of the more cultish devotees of the VW Beetle, in fact, forthrightly rejected its reanimated version as a fraud. In that case, those consumers were marginalized by a far wider buying public who weren’t such sticklers.

And really, something like the Beetle is actually a special case: it wasn’t just a well-known product, it was a cultural icon on a level that very few products or brands ever achieve. River West is trying to reanimate brands that are sort of familiar but don’t have anything like a VW level of built-in cultural capital to draw on. If there is a cult of Brim out there somewhere, it’s pretty small and very quiet.

What River West really wants is to bring back these brands in a way that not only builds on their former popularity but also manages, via the skillful management of what we do remember and what we don’t, to transcend it. This would be quite a trick. A few months after he returned from the licensing expo, Earle more or less dropped the strategy of turning Brim into a glorified store brand. These days he’s talking about finding a “really innovative” coffee-manufacturing partner who could make the Brim brand an umbrella for groundbreaking (but unspecified) coffee advances that would work in the general market, not just one chain. He sounded almost protective of the Brim idea, and possibly a bit frustrated that he hadn’t hit on the way to bring it back. “Brim is, within our company, one of our best-known brands,” he said to me at one point. “In fact it’s our absolutely best-known brand. So expectations are high.”

Later he added: “The strength of a dormant brand is we can remake this however we want. The challenge is we can remake this however we want.”

Eventually, Earle introduced me at his office to Scott Lazar, chief executive of another River West partner, Reserve Brands, which is overseeing the revivification of Eagle Snacks. I’d never heard of the brand, but I was assured that plenty of Midwesterners knew it. Eagle had once been owned by Anheuser-Busch and was the beer maker’s way into the salty-snack market dominated by Frito-Lay. Its most well known product, it seems, was the honey-roasted peanut, particularly in tiny bags given out as snacks on airlines. Anheuser-Busch eventually pulled the plug, selling its equipment to Frito-Lay and the trademarks to Procter & Gamble in the mid-1990s. Lazar said that while the new Eagle has acquired those trademarks, the new and expanded product line consists largely of snacks that the old Eagle never made, with names like “Poppers!” and “Bursts!” These are rolling out in a variety of grocery stores across the country. Lazar tried to give me about six large bags of samples, but I demurred on account of limited luggage space.

I ended up with two bags, which Earle and I took downstairs to the bar at the Ceres Cafe. It was crowded and loud, filled with big Chicago men who in some cases had spent the day screaming on the Chicago Board of Trade floor and who in all cases were not shy. We found a place to sit, plopping the Eagle snacks in front of us. And one man after another leaned into our space and pointed at the bags and boomed, “Eagle!” Big hands reached toward the bags to get a scoop of snacks that the old Eagle had never made, and at the time were not in stores, and big voices declared, “I remember those!”

Rob Walker writes the Consumed column for the magazine. His book, “Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are,” will be published by Random House next month.
I was reading the NYTimes and found this article. It really is interesting to know that Brim was killed. I didn't know it, but I did know the brand and just suspected that it wasn't available in my markets. But I know the brand very well, I can even see the coffee cans in my head.
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