Life’s a pitch

The world of advertising is an idyllic one. Families have two parents and two kids. Women with lovely long hair impress handsome young men who wear aftershave. Every group of friends is by chance multicultural. Everyone is always happy and no one would ever be caught farting, or forgetting their car keys. The world we propose is naive and ideal. And – the cynic would add – manipulating. Because we’re selling our client’s products by selling this ideal world.

Outside advertising, worlds are being pitched just as well. Having recruited enough young men, it seems that ISIS is now convincing more and more young women of the fact that life in the caliphate is much more appealing than life in plain Holland. Quite amazing. And then there is the far-right PVV party´s pitch of a country upset by refugees, foreigners, globalisation and intellectuals. This pitch seems to be doing better than ever. And so is D66´s political pitch about a money-squandering government and profitarians.

The world of simple pleasures that advertising sells, is seen as manipulative and pernicious. Probably because it is the only discipline that openly acknowledges its corporate interest. Meanwhile the great masters of manipulation – spin doctors, party leaders, revolutionaries – use exactly the same techniques to disguise their utopias as reality.

Lately I´ve found myself returning to the famous quote of Marshall McLuhan: The medium is the message. Regardless of what is being pitched to us, in the end it is the messenger selling himself. This is how rulers establish their power. We have found ourselves in a cynical world full of advertising pitches. Actually true brands are the only ones who still have to wait behind the ad-break crush bars before their broadcasting time starts.

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