Thursday, May 3, 2012

PR As Sin

PR is the Great Satan.  The  Seven Deadly Sins – specifically  wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony are the tools of our trade.  

But, in the end, they all turn on fear, rooted right in the center of our brain.
Because cells in the brain are constantly transferring information and triggering responses, there are dozens of areas of the brain at least peripherally involved in fear,


As ever I rely on Wikipedia --I am prey to Sloth.
In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self. Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbour.

Buy the right shampoo, toothpaste, health drinks --or an SUV  (screw Climate Change and other unpleasant facts).   Get rid of the nagging fear that what the mirror shows is true.   With the “right stuff”, you will instantly become, yes, more important – and yes, more attractive.  “More” is the operant word because you become “more” than you were only relative to others.  

Excessive love of self”?  That’s also called “narcissism”,   a psychological condition rooted in insecurity – and constantly evoked by the media, which cleverly holds up impossible ideals.  

“Love your neighbor”?   Hah!   What if they have a nicer clothes, if they are better looking than you, if they have a Beamer and you have a 10 year old Ford?  Hah! Is followed by Nah!…. Hate thy neighbor is more like it.     

PR Pros!  Pay attention to what people are afraid of.


Those who commit the sin of envy not only resent that another person has something they perceive themselves as lacking, but also wish the other person to be deprived of it.

“Nuff said.  Ties into Pride right?    

TV commercials make good use of rich, famous and attractive people.  BecauseYou are not rich, famous, or all that attractive.    We understand our “ranking” by comparison --and most of us are near the bottom if TV sets the standard.   Celebs peddle crap just to make us feel shitty.  

Here starteth the lesson:  to be richer, more famous and more attractive, somebody else has to be less so.   This is the Loser Game.

Of course, if others know we feel that way –   they won’t like us -- and we will be ipso facto even less attractive.  So, we have to stress only the positive aspects of striving to “be better” and hide our true feelings.   

Oh, forgive me Father, for I have sinned.


Greed (Latin, avaritia), also known as avarice or covetousness.   A very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.

Obviously similar to Envy—  it is the result.   

As we have seen. advertising teaches us to “aspire” to More.  

Human worth can be calculated with a spread sheet and a list of possessions.   Every pimply faced 15 year old boy realizes that the hot girls go with the jocks who drive hot cars and dress well and are on the football team and don’t have to work part-time in an convenience store. . At the very least he needs a new IPad.   Even the Pope has his Popemobile.

Barack Obama keeps on telling us that he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. But he has a gold one now, fuck you very much.  Guess why he hired Tim Geithner and Robert Summers?    

TV and advertising promise nothing if not Wealth, Status and Power.   Jesus, by contrast, preached the simply life, humility, and love.  Obviously the Loser had never been to MBA school.  

Back to our theme:  Greed is created by Need. And Need is created by Fear. 


A (sin of excess) over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. 

OK, so America = gluttony. 

Buy, buy, buy. Consume, consume, consume.   A Big Mac is more than a hamburger – it is moral statement, --maybe even a philosophy.  

Have you noticed how all those svelte movie stars drink and eat and never put on an ounce?
When marketing gluttony, there must be a disconnect between excess and its consequences. 

One way to create this disconnect is to make it patriotic.  The American Dream is not about having enough. It is about having too much.  Fartilicious, our word for the day.

Remember George W Bush?  We’re at war he said.  So you have to shop more. 
Worried, fearful?  Times are bad?  Reach for the ice cream. 

Latin, Socordia). The failure to utilize one's talents and gifts.  Purgatorio he had portrayed the penance for acedia as running continuously at top speed. The modern view goes further, regarding laziness and indifference as the sin at the heart of the matter.

Sloth  is also known as convenience or ease of use.  Forgetfulness of all the mundane things we might have to do if we could ever get up from the sofa.  

Satan loves TV remotes and texting.  He also loves Facebook because you can have friends without really caring or sharing or any kind of responsibility.  And you can photoshop your pictures of yourself. .
Advertising sells ease of use.  Which is no doubt why America is a nation of fat people.   Of course, the fatter you get, the more envious and greedy and gluttonous….

How does this tie into Fear?  The less you do, the easier it is, the less risk.  Your couch is safe


(Latin, ira), also known as "rage", may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger.  anger

Now anger,   as it is used in PR is complicated!  Its obvious applications are in political advertising.  Right wing groups advertise heavily to convince working class white people that their freedoms are going to taken away, maybe their jobs and homes, by liberals, progressives, Big Government, Planned Parenthood, Muslims and Blacks.   In this case, fear and anger go together. 

Political advertising has wondrous spinoffs.  Weapons manufacturers capitalize on our fear.  Do we really need billion dollar stealth fighters to bomb goat herders in the desert?  

The War on Terror and the War on Drugs are huge moneymakers for all sorts of people from the companies that sell security devices to private prisons – but they would not be possible without extensive PR programs that exploit fear, resentment, and anger. 

And what would Hollywood do for action movie villains without the archetypal Muslim Terrorist, the Drug Lord, shiftless, high school dropout scumbags with bad skin?

Think: product placement.  Our action heroes who always have the latest gadgets – iphones and ipads and fast cars.  They are handsome or beautiful too. 


I’m all for lust actually -- just not that into prostitution, which is the marketing of sex.
Now, sex is the oldest come-on in advertising.  Marketing, as you will see,   encourages a special kind of virtual prostitution – that depends on an equally perverse kind of mental and emotional masturbation.

Advertising :
          a.) Appeals to juvenile fantasies of easy sex  (see sloth)
          b.)  Makes it easy if you buy the right stuff (remember my comment on prostitution?  No        money,no sex
c         c.) Links wealth, power and status to sexual success
           d.) Evokes the danger of   competition.

Relationships?  Nah.   It’s all about immediate satisfaction.  Buy lots of cool things and just sit back and wank.  

Underlying this too is insecurity

 Why would that handsome guy/girl be into me?   Quick – buy a new deodorant.  Or (if you are a guy)  maybe an SUV.  

Religions also play upon fear. The human mind hungers for certainty, stability and  simple explanations for why things .  It wants Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the religion of your choice and a house in Beverly Hills. We can live only partly in the real world – mostly we live in our imaginations.  Religion, art – and advertising – appeal to the imagination.  What is “faith” but “willing suspension of disbelief”. 

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