Orwell On Advertising

National Review’s Jay Nordlinger is wondering where he can go for entertainment that’s free of partisan politics:

Another pet theme, or pet peeve, of mine has to do with “safe zones” — my recent term for zones free of partisan politics. (These might include concerts, church, city tours . . .). A reader wrote me to say that he was sick of the intrusion of politics into the sports pages — hear, hear. Been singing this song forever. Those politics always — always — come from the left. And it’s easy to see why. More about that in a sec.

Anyway, my reader was irked in particular about this column, concerning Tiger Woods. The columnist wanted Woods to be more open to the media. And he wrote, “It’s not like we’re trying to pull President Obama aside for a couple of questions while he’s trying to save our country from itself.”

Yeah, yeah. Okay, here’s my theory: The sports guys are a tiny bit embarrassed — at some level — to be sportswriters. And they need to prove they’re every bit as serious — every bit as left-wing, every bit as “engaged” with the world — as the news and editorial guys. “Hey, don’t look down on me because I write about sports: I hate Bush too!”

You know?


Indeed, I do. Except during election time, advertising was once the most politically-neutral environment in newspapers and magazines. But with the rise of transnationalism, NGOs, and other forms of holistic government and the like, there’s virtually no aspect of postmodern life that hasn’t become politicized. Which is why, if he were alive today, perhaps George Orwell could do a better job explaining the semiotics of 21st century advertising than the late David Ogilvy.

In addition to the 9/11-related ads I mentioned earlier this week, including the latest example from the World Wildlife Fund, Tabitha Hale, the “Pink Elephant Pundit”, reminds us of this anti-smoking ad from last year:


Because sure, sucking down a Marlboro, and terrorists crashing airliners into a pair of skyscrapers are obviously synonymous.

Meanwhile, Jose Guardia writes:

THIS BRAZILIAN AD FOR WWF MOCKING 9/11 reminds me a lot to what the Madrid daily El País did back in 2004 (see here and here). The Brazilian ad is understandably causing a huge controversy. The Spanish newspaper finally had to apologize, amid a deluge of complaints coming from all over the world.
Gosh, can’t understand why:
As Jose noted in 2004, the ad’s headline reads in English:
“You can do a lot in one single day; just imagine what can happen in three months”

(click on picture for bigger version; via Arcadi Espada)

This is an email advertisement for the online version of El Pais, Spain’s main newspaper which belongs to the PRISA group, the pro-Socialist media organization that, together with its sister SER radio network, was behind the agit-prop campaign after the March 11 [2004] bombings.

It’s also the same newspaper whose main headline on September 12th 2001, all across its cover, was “The world, awaiting expectantly for Bush’s reaction”.

Yes, it was, and is, that disgusting. Shame on them.

UPDATE. A reader from California writes:

As I said to my wife this morning after seeing the amoral ad in El Pais:

“Honey, cancel our trip to Spain this winter.”

It’s kinda sad to hear this, but I’m afraid I can’t blame him.

Of course, 9/11 isn’t the only “man-caused disaster” to become politicized by a non-profit organization looking to (yawn) shock the bourgeois. (Or as James Lileks writes on Twitter, “Peculiar story: ‘Hitler sex video condemned by AIDS groups.’ Better headline: ‘Is Paris Hilton burning?’”)



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