The Null Device

Cultural critic Thomas Frank on marketing and the commodification of dissent (via Arts&Letters):
I went to an advertising convention a couple of months ago and they had people from Nike's advertising agency who were getting a prize for an ad campaign they'd done ... The problem had been ... bad public perceptions of Nike. The answer was not to address the problem-deal with labor issues-but to fix their public image by hooking Nike up with an "authenticity" that no one could deny. So, they sent ad people all over the country looking for the most authentic sport they could find. It turned out to be high school girl's basketball because it's the most unpolluted. These girls are not going to become superstars. They might get a college scholarship, but that's a step in the right direction and hardly "selling out." These ad men spoke of it in the same way as the 1930s WPA authors who photographed sharecroppers. In fact, the photography in the Nike ads resembled those 1930s photographs for that exact purpose. It was "authentic." Sick stuff. Turned my stomach. They won the first place prize!

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