Friday, July 14, 2006

who told you so?

I received the following email last week.

Hi there,

I just wanted to follow up on the newsworthy and very interesting Discovery Channel show "Global Warming". The TV special airs this coming Sunday, July 16.

It would be great if you could possibly promote the show on your site and announce the premiere.

Click on the link below to find assets, including photos and a clip from the show.

Please let me know once the promotion goes live on your site.

Thanks for your consideration.

Maria

GLOBAL WARMING - premieres July 16th on Discovery Channel

Hosted by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw and produced by the global alliance of Discovery Channel, the BBC and NBC News Productions, the two-hour special presents the facts and leaves it up to the viewers to determine their own truth about global warming.

Maria Park Crew Creative Advertising 1157 N. Highland Ave, Los Angles, CA 90038

At Maria’s request I’ve removed the link she provided for access to the assets webpage meant to provide me with information to use in promoting this television program. It allowed me to see a clip of the program, provided me background information for the scientists in the show and gave me access to images like this.

In total I received two emails from Maria concerning this television program. The first had a grammatical error which led me to believe she was in fact an actual human. I checked into her company and they are in fact an advertising agency often hired to promote TV and Movie product. Personally I won’t be watching Discovery Channel’s “Global Warming” special this Sunday, July 16th. I would if I had a television but I don’t. I looks like it will be very informative and I applaud the Discovery Channel for continuing to chip away at the ignorance of the American public concerning this issue. I guess I could have said fighting corporate propaganda and let the American people off the hook. Lately though I’m feeling like we won’t really get anywhere until we begin again to take responsibility for our own actions; both as individuals and as a nation of citizens not of corporate stockholders. But I digress…

One reason I didn’t immediately post the information provided by Maria is that I was skeptical about promoting a show I had not seen just because I was asked to do so by some stranger. In truth it wasn’t the global warming special that intrigued me. The real eyebrow-raiser for me was the ad campaign being used to promote it. Stop for a second and examine what we, those of us writing on the internet, have become. We are powerful enough now that ad agencies are turning to us to help get their message out. Discovery Channel paid Crew Creative Advertising, who in turn paid Maria to find my little blog, with all of 16,000 hits to its name, and find my email address and send a message, albeit fairly generic, in hopes of getting the word out about an upcoming program.

Interesting.

It’s happening. This isn’t your 1990’s internet. Those who have a message (and who doesn’t) are onto us. Steve at deconsumption wrote recently about trolls- people paid to surf the web and steer conversations on the internet with the hopes of changing public opinion. Here I’ve experienced another, if less sinister and more straightforward, attempt to use the blogosphere to help the sheople, do what others want them to do.

I’ve heard it said that advertising is a sign of an unhealthy economy. What if there were no advertising? Imagine for a second going to the store and arriving on the alcohol aisle only to find 6 types of beer in exactly the same sort of blank bottle. The only way to tell them apart would be the number they have on the outside of the bottle. You could choose Bottle Number 1 or Bottle Number 2 or Bottle Number 3, etc. What would happen? Well if you were alone with no one to ask you might pick Bottle Number 5 and take it home to try. On your next trip you might decide Bottle Number 5 was great and buy more or you might decide you didn’t like it or it was too expensive and try Bottle Number 6. Maybe you would try them all to see which one was best or how they were different. Perhaps you’d ask friends and neighbors if they’ve had a chance to try Bottle Number 3.

Eventually you would probably form opinions about each of the bottle numbers. You could use these opinions to decide which bottle to buy when shopping for beer. Your information would be based on trial and error and perhaps information provided by other beer drinkers you know. In this climate I think good beer would be rewarded with an increase in purchases as it became apparent which beer was better or worth the price. In other words the positive and negative feedback loops that promote a healthy free market would do their jobs and product superiority along with price point would rule the day. What happens in the real world though? We are constantly bombarded with advertisers telling us which beer to buy. They appeal to us in ways completely unrelated to beer. They use humor, sex and sports stars to get us to believe that their beer is the best. They market beers to take advantage of the low carb crazy. They even put beer on the sides of race cars. I thought alcohol and automobiles don’t mix?

I am aware of the power of advertising. I try and stay conscious of the fact that corporate America is constantly trying to get me to make decisions that make them money. I guess that’s the best I can do in this day and age. That and help others recognize where all this information comes from. So watch the Discovery Channel special, “Global Warming” this Sunday July 16th. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it helps with the awareness of this truly important issue. I bet if you do it will make Maria happy. I wonder if this was what she had in mind.

More on propaganda Part One

More on propaganda Part Two

UPDATE: Just after finishing my post I saw this article over at Grist. In it David Roberts says, "...Tom Brokaw is hosting the Discovery Channel's special, "Global Warming: What You Need to Know." This has enraged the hack factory that is the Senate Committee on Environment under the hacktastic proprietorship of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Clowntown)."

Apparently Senator Inhofe said, "Brokaw's partisan past and his reliance on scientists who openly endorsed Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and who are financially affiliated with left wing environmental groups, has resulted in a documentary that is devoid of balance and objectivity." Now if that ain't propaganda talking I don't know what is.

I like to imagine Senator Inhofe speaking at a ceremony for chopping down the last tree on Easter Island. I can hear him now, "There is no proof the trees won't grow back! The treehuggers would have you believe it's not our God-given right to use trees as we see fit. There needs to be more fair and balanced examination and study of this issue before we harm the economy and the timber industry with a moritorium on tree chopping. Blahblahblah..." This rant brought to you by a question once posed to Jared Diamond. You know what Easter Island looks like today right?

It hasn't always looked that way. "The civilization of Easter Island was long believed to have degenerated drastically during the 100 years before the arrival of the Dutch, as a result of overpopulation, deforestation and exploitation of an extremely isolated island with limited natural resources." More on Easter Island here.

How big would you say OUR Island is Senator?

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