find they are actors in a single narrow script of how goods and services are defined, here is a verbatim blurb from an actual company that is trying to attract new employees:
"[Name of company] serves the U.S. by accelerating the transformation of Federal healthcare through the application of new strategies, technology and processes. Our case management solutions offer a high benefit, low risk implementation of case adjudication and processing. We provide transformational functional subject matter expertise and health IT services to multiple civilian…"
and so on. It's a real problem, especially with big business. By its nature, late capitalism creates an incestuous upper layer of interchangeable merchants who offer basically the same shared pool of workers and the same commodities to the same gang of high-level corporate and government clients: business lions turned politicians turned business lions. Money buys membership into the revolving swap meet. The problem with trying to advertise to these cloistered buyers is that at this late date in the alleged "marketplace" there's very little left to say about most products and services that is distinctive.
Or I guess it's more accurate to say that there's very little left that's permissible to say about most products that is distinctive. The goods are all generally the same stuff, made with the same labor and the same materials, sold to the same captive customers, but branded with different names and contrived stories. And the rules of advertisement, agreed upon by the moneyed gang, forbid blantantly truthful pitches such as, for instance, "Ours is just as dangerous/fraudulent/generic as theirs, but our stockholders want you to buy ours." So, in the absence of Adam-Smith-style market meritocracy, most of today's monopoly capitalist sales messages are forced to devolve into bald-faced meaninglessness. Banal corporate slogans blend into an obscuring mist. We can't tell one from another, and we rightly believe none of them. It's not that the world has ever been a very credulous place. It's that the Western capitalist world, in particular, has stirred itself into a near-homogenous blend of vanilla dishonesty.
This is why most corporate advertising agency creatives -- of whom I was one for years -- now rely on a shared vocabulary of gibberish for general awareness campaigns, and why their clients -- corporate marketing directors, for the most part -- delude themselves into thinking that their own ad agency's latest confection captures the compelling personality of their brand. The truth -- that there is little or no material to work with -- is unacceptable to the enterprise. So the folks at the table have two choices: they can believe their own hooey, or they can pretend to.
Actually, there is a third path as well: they can be among the few ad creators who actually weave meaningful or memorable messages about what is sold. There are not many of those. But there are some, and their ads --whether truth or lies -- are the ones that make us laugh out loud, or feel understood or respected, or at least remember what they tell us, which is a feat in itself. You probably have some favorites. I do.
The majority, though, are expensive goo. For every brilliantly intuitive ad messenger who divines the day's magic words for the public mind -- and I know a couple of them -- there are 99 barkers who hack their way into public speech with semi-methodologies of messaging (known as "creative strategies") that yield noises and images that are just good enough to get paid. I was one of those people. Most in the ad business are.
That is why it is now universal sport to mock adspeak, and why an especially apt act of ad satire, like Kendra Eash's "This is a Generic Brand Video," goes viral with contempt and hilarity. What our society has done to human work, and to speech about human work, deserves all the snarky ridicule we can muster.
So what do we need to do to change it?