I found Imani’s application of mass culture critique to the Samsung galaxy ads to be spot on.  In order to fully understand and critically engage with the present day ad, it is important to consider it in a historical context, which she outlines at the beginning of her post via a brief summary of the creative revolution in advertising during the 1960’s.  Certainly, Bill Bernbach and like-minded pioneers paved the way for advertisers to create content that both engaged and critiqued the masses, which is a practice that continues to be in place. 

 

It is also interesting to consider how the Samsung ad ties into the ideas discussed in Klein’s article, “Alt. Everything: The Youth Market and the Marketing of Cool.”  At the center of the Samsung ad is a message that conformity to popular products of the mass market is often accompanied by an abandonment of independent and genuine thought.  The Apple users in the ad clearly don’t understand the technology in question, nor are they concerned with the functional aspects of the product—they merely want to buy into the brand.  As everyone knows (and as supported by mass culture critique), this behavior comes across as being totally “fake” and inherently not cool.  Enter Samsung: the “alternative” savior.  The Samsung phone is presented as the solution to being a mass produced drone, which until the creative revolution and implementation of mass critique strategies, hadn’t been considered as a problematic.  By linking their product to the ideals associated with being alternative (read: hip), Samsung hopes to interpellate consumers who want to build their own identities (through consumption) around this idea of being alternative and distinguished from the masses.

 

Of course, as Klein points out, the idea that “alternative” as a philosophy can be manufactured and sold on a mass level is entirely contradictory to any pure notion of what being alternative means.  Klein writes, “…branding’s insatiable cultural thirst just creates more marketing.  Marketing that thinks it is culture” (66).  In this sense, the branding of sociological values/movements in order to masquerade as pseudo culture is nothing short of crude exploitation. 

 

Furthermore, it is common knowledge that by the rules of “coolness”, once something becomes mainstream, it can by definition no longer be considered alternative (or cool).  This is also explored in the Frontline special we watched in class regarding “cool hunters”.  Clearly, the purpose of advertising is to successfully market a product to as many people as possible.  Thus, even if the strategy used employs alternative or mass critique elements, the goal is always to become mainstream. This paradox is perfectly embodied by the evolution of Apple advertising.  Prior to their domination of the market, Apple advertisements played heavily into the notion of going against the grain, and offering an alternative solution.  Their “1984” ad and the Mac vs. PC campaigns are prime examples.  Now that they’ve achieved mainstream success, they must find new ways to market their products, and watch as Samsung seeks to overthrow them as the new “alternative”. 

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