An example of a US ad connecting their brand with power or a sexual thrill is an AT&T ad which aired during the 2010 Olympics showing a female snowboarder flying through space like a superhero with the planet as a backdrop, under the caption “Possibilities.” A TV ad for Apple’s iPad showed a man using it with the statement “control the universe.” Nerdy guys communicate with a sexy woman by going to the web site Go Daddy in a Superbowl football ad, costing 2.8 million dollars per 30 seconds. Status is achieved with a car; a Toyota ad says others will be jealous if you have one of their cars. Hewlett-Packard named its laptop “Envy.” Otherwise, we’d all drive the least expensive, durable, and most fuel-efficient vehicles or use bicycles or mass transit. Analyze recent Superbowl ads on YouTube to see what they’re selling, keeping in mind they’re geared for male viewers, suggesting ways to be more masculine as deconstructed by an article on sexism in 2012 Super Bowl ads.[i]
Consumerism wants us to emulate successful people like Malvina Reynold’s 1962 song “Little Boxes” about everyone living the same lifestyle, the children going to university where “they come out all the same.” In the 2010 film The Joneses, a fake couple, played by actors Demi Moore and David Duchonvny, pose as a stylish family who move into a posh suburb. They are actually salespersons whose job is to get their neighbors to buy products like their car, golf clubs and hair products to emulate the attractive family, who are not in fact married and their teenage “children” are actors too. Their neighbors do buy things to try to be like them, leading to the suicide of a husband who went into debt to buy things to please his wife.
A Muslim adult, Yusuf Al-Khabbazy from Bahrain advocates that Muslims should learn to live more simply without so many things, focusing on needs rather than desires, since their religion teaches frugality:[ii]
Consumerism is in many ways a feature of modern life, and it is based on an expansive sense of individuality, which quickly gets entangled with notions of freedom and political liberty. The Americans have been quite good at making the connection between a consumerist activity like shopping and the idea of political liberty; many people have taken that connection for granted, and failed to question it.
Owing to the highly paid psychologists and public relations experts they employ, the consumerist industries have learned how to manipulate old desires and create new ones. Muslims have to fend off this assault on their personalities. This can only be done if they are convinced that life is better without consumerism. That is not easy, since consumption, broadly defined, is putting down stronger, deeper roots in Muslim societies, primarily through satellite television and its experiential cognate, the American shopping mall.
I would stop wars, make peace, make sure no one is living on the streets, and people not dying all the time. Not everything is about money and being number one. Talia, 15, f, Australia
Megan Kearns, “Top 14 Sexist Super Bowl Ads and the NotBuyingIt Campaign,” Fem2.0, February 8, 2012. http://www.fem2pt0.com/2012/02/08/top-14-sexist-super-bowl-ads-and-the-notbuyingit-campaign/
2013 ads: www.forbes.com/sites/brycecovert/2013/02/04/super-bowl-ads-serve-up-sexism. Estimates are $300 million was spent on ads.