Researchers guesstimate the average American is exposed to hundreds, or even thousands, of ads each day.
But PBS’s “The Persuaders” maintains that the marketers may be losing ground.
In the film, author Naomi Klein compares consumers to roaches — we’ve been sprayed so much that we’ve begun developing immunities.
That, Rushkoff believes, doesn’t make the situation any healthier.
“As advertisers develop their techniques and we develop our resistance, the landscape of American culture becomes more of a battleground,” he said. “Americans have to spend more time and energy on these messages that are coming at them. That has a tangible effect on the American personality, on the way we approach the world and each other.”
Rushkoff describes one result of living in a culture overrun by marketing: an increasingly fragmented society. The “shooting star” is just one of Acxiom’s 70 different consumer categories. According to the company’s website Taking Hold, Married Sophisticates (PDF) are childless thirty-somethings who like modern rock, golf and tennis and “are avid photographers, clay throwers and gardeners.” Their favorite shows: Will and Grace and King of Queens.
Using buying patterns to home in on us as consumers is one thing; using that kind of data to pigeonhole us as voters is substantially more troubling. But that’s exactly what political campaigns are doing.