Wednesday, September 4, 2013

To Market, To Market

Selling the Sell
or check out the subtle home invaders!
(The Brides Guide was in my mom's library, history is everywhere)

Today's issue: Designing the Housewife or how Marketing to the “lady of the house" helped create the modern "Goodwife." This is about attaching ego to brands in the guise of supporting a woman's sincere efforts to help her family be healthy, happy and successful;  to partake of the American Dream. This is about seduction.

Women were cajoled and trained to really "shop" after WWII. Granted, the whole euphoric "war is over" period did lead to dancing in the streets and a cultural lovefest. North America was on a high and celebration was in order. Ego and systems belief rose to new levels of possibility. Spending was easier as goods that had been scarce now seemed abundant and unending. Consumer economics was part of the new plan and it appeared to be a winner.

Companies saw ways to turn their war making materials into peacetime profits and the future looked bright. Rebuilding Europe and Japan made good diplomatic and economic sense. The over there helped drive the home turf industries, making the case for household or microeconomics and women's spending.

It also makes the case for the "military, industrial (congressional) complex that former President Eisenhower said to be wary of, but highs are not grounded and consequences seemed far away.

Home was the reason for all the fighting. Home was the  haven and havens were about security and comfort. Home was pretty much an answer on many fronts. But by the 50s a new driver was needed to fulfill the economic wet dreams of the financiers and bankers. Freedom from fascism meant freedom to exploit and so it was.

 "Authorities" and friendly persuaders, movie stars and academics all chimed in to help craft and tune the American Dream Machine. And many of those machines were about household conveniences, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners, ovens, mixers, cocktail shakers and ice makers. Autos were aimed at this new era woman and she enjoyed the "freedom."  Style was stressed and design took off.

Aggressive campaigns hit this booming middle class via the homemaker. Like who would ever think that the red and white checked household staple; the Betty Crocker Cookbook and the later Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, were really marketing devices, full of processed food stuffs called  "time saving" wonders. I mean i received "Better Homes" as a gift when i married and never thought it a wolf in sheep's clothing.

TV, radio, magazines, newspapers all presented stories of the consumer litany, the mantras of the modern world.  Articles presented information  that was so aligned with ads that an umbrella of sacred consumption covered the lot. All the latest and greatest ‘stuffs” showed women how to keep husbands and children happy, healthy and in good cultural standing. (Wise was also bandied about but the education experts had that domain)

As men went out of the house to go earn "the bread"  the ladies were being shown where and how to spend it. All those modern conveniences left her time for more shopping. Being the good housewife meant dressing the part, so this was not without perks and justifiable ones at that!

These advisory messages were often dressed up to be "about the family."  However it was often more  about acculturation and creating an underlying group think, while sporting individuality and "i did it my way" on the surface, This stuff had/has layers of meaning.

Ingenious, clever and "successful" in its own way, marketers and media rose to new heights on the new hype.  (Though how we can call a concept a success without considering all outcomes, all "life cycle" impacts, damages and dis-ease, is a mystery of financier clout and sleight of hand)

The consumer economic belief is now fairly hardwired into the system. The term sustainable economics is rising (as with public benefit corporations) but sadly, this often just means more dependency on corporations.  as services replace tangible goods; and doesn't change the core processing ideology.

I stand behind the word sadly, as corporate thinking that justifies a focus on profits and the subsequent right to profit, is a unique human form of crazy. We humans are capable of great imagination which created the idea of money, wealth and profit - all the economic "manage and control" devices we have mustered into existence, all about us! That these concepts became "real," so "real" that they now over take the larger realities of planet systems, well that is crazy. 

All the while the very imagination, the very gift of being that thought up the money idea and is at this moment helping many reconsider this whole agenda, well that is the real wealth of the species. Let's not squander it. Let's not blow it. because this time running away from the mess is really unfeasible, not practical and certainly not admirable.

We all deserve better.

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