Marketing and violence

A review of Marketing is Violence: A user guide by Marianna Cage. 15,000 word ebook, Not So Noble Books, December, 2012.

Arianna Bove

marketing is violence cover and link to amazon

Many efforts have been spent in the direction of fighting the phenomenology of capital in its embodiment as marketing and advertising: from the adbusters and nologo generation, to the Yesmen stunts and subvertising that aim to damage corporations by revealing the truth of the practices behind their fabricated CSR savvy brand image. That we are made to live a lie and inhabit a world of illusions and phantasms is the cause of much of the cynicism and disengagement with the social production of meaning. A suffocating sense of inadequacy prevails when trying to make one’s voice heard through so much noise and saturation of attention.

Analytically, a strand of the critique of the phenomenology of capital has emphasised the effects of this saturation on the mind, most notably in the works of Bifo, Erhenberg and Parisi. That psychopathologies are epidemics cannot be unrelated to the increasing pressures advertisers exert on the realm of our senses whilst fighting for our attention.

Marianna Cage’s Marketing is violence adds to and yet is different from the above because it is both an expose and an antidote: where others haven't ventured in the minds of marketers, she gets her hands dirty and introduces us to the horrors of the way marketers themselves understand, propagate and refine the methods of their controlled aggression against the social body. Reading the book one gets the double feeling of entering something like a corporate training camp where ‘creatives’ and their academic consultants prepare for the battle, and a resistance movement to it.

While it’s known how cynical the marketer must be – Marketing is violence and many won’t find this such a scandalous statement – less is known about the academic who aids him. Perhaps this is most disturbing, as the academic is in a relation of doubly voluntary servitude. Why is it however that most academics, when they see it from near or a far, affirm marketing, fail to question it, fail to address it for what it is? Perhaps, if Cage is right, it’s because they are wrapped up in the schizophrenic condition of the corporation. A worthy read.

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