April 11, 20121 Comment

Are the values we instill in our children leading us towards a sustainable future?

This is a guest post by Tim Burns, Head of Waste Watch.

In 2009, the children’s marketing sector was worth £100bn - and it's still growing. A significant portion of this total is spent on food marketing, predominantly promoting energy dense, low-nutrient food and beverages - typically unhealthy for children, but marketed to exaggerate health claims - and messaging (often with the help of celebrities) to suggest popularity, performance and mood.

There is worrying evidence of the impact advertising can have on children's dietary behaviours. One study, for example, showed that children exposed to junk food advertising ate 45% more junk food than children not exposed during the trial[i]. Furthermore, the Hastings Review found evidence that advertising can have an effect upon the nutritional knowledge, food preferences, purchasing behaviour and diet of children.

But can marketing influence beyond behaviours to our values and identity? Read more

March 28, 20121 Comment

Treating people as consumers boosts materialistic values

“One of the most profound changes in our modern vocabulary is the way in which ‘We the People’ are defined”, observes the academic David Rutherford. “Not so very long ago, we ‘pictured’ ourselves as citizens. … Today, we are most often referred to (and therefore increasingly inclined to ‘see’ ourselves) as consumers.”

Too true. There has been an inexorable rise in the use of the term ‘consumer’ over the past forty years – a stark trend evident in both newspapers and books. But whilst the rise of consumerism has been well-documented, evidence of its negative impacts have proven harder to pin down. Does it really matter that we’re all consumers now? Read more

December 12, 2011Comments are off for this post.

The High Price of Materialism

Tim Kasser is professor of psychology at Knox College, Illinois, and author of The High Price of Materialism. He has been of great help in developing the Common Cause work.

In this animation, produced for The Center for a New American Dream, Tim discusses how America's culture of consumerism undermines our well-being. When people buy into the ever-present marketing messages that "the good life" is "the goods life," they not only use up Earth's limited resources, but they are less happy and less inclined toward helping others. The animation both lays out the problems of excess materialism and points toward solutions that promise a healthier, more just, and more sustainable life.


October 25, 20112 Comments

Opening the ethical debates in advertising

We’ve suggested elsewhere that there are two broad categories of response to Common Cause.

The first is to focus on the implications for the campaigns and communications that we are already producing: how might we campaign on biodiversity conservation, or disability rights, or cancer research, while simultaneously helping to strengthen those values upon which systemic concern about these issues must come to be built?

The second is to ask: what might we begin to do collectively, across the third sector, to strengthen the cultural importance of intrinsic values and reduce the pervasiveness of extrinsic values? Here there are many opportunities for new joint campaigns. One of the most obvious – but it is only one – is on advertising.

There is persuasive evidence that advertising serves to reinforce the cultural importance of extrinsic values – and to undermine the importance that we place on intrinsic values. As such, it will operate to reduce public concern about a wide range of social and environmental issues. This is an effect which is likely to be further strengthened by the fact that advertising is so pervasive – we literally can’t avoid it; and by the fact that much of it is targeted at children – people who are likely to be more vulnerable to its influence on values.

PIRC and WWF-UK have today launched a report highlighting the evidence for the cultural impacts of advertising. George Monbiot has written about it here. And you can download the report below.

We’ll now be hosting a conversation – with people from the third sector and business alike – on the cultural impacts of advertising and possible responses. Do get in touch if you would like to be involved in this!

[wpfilebase tag=file path='reports/Think Of Me As Evil - PIRC-WWF Oct 2011.pdf']

April 1, 20088 Comments

Sir Martin Sorrell on deliberate obsolescence

This blog was originally posted on the website Valuing Nature.

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the global marketing group WPP, recently called for an end to deliberate obsolescence, citing Apple as a prime example of a company that exploits this as a strategy to flog more stuff:

"Sorrell cited Apple as an example of a brand creating products that consumers quickly jettison in favour of the company's newer ones. While nobody can deny that Apple produces desirable, design-led objects, they do tend to become outdated very quickly. The company cut the price of its 8GB iPhone model and scrapped the original 4GB model only two months after launch."

Green marketers are increasingly willing to embrace strategies to encourage consumers to buy fewer, more expensive, longer-lasting things, rather than what John Grant, in his recent book 'The Green Marketing Manifesto' calls a "superfluity of crap commodities".

Grant writes:

"If our money was tied up in a few big budget items, we would buy classics that don't go out of style, we would treasure them and take great care of them and we would derive status from their ownership."

The problem with this approach is that it needn't necessarily do anything to encourage people to embrace less materialistic sources of meaning. And as other posts on this site have argued, the only systemic and lasting response to the sustainability crisis we face is to work towards the emergence of such alternative means of securing our identities. If consumers consume because they need, psychologically, ever more new stuff, then making this stuff longer lasting but more expensive may simply lead them to work harder, or borrow more, to finance the increased costs of their new consumption patterns - with negative personal, social and environmental consequences.

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

©2018 - 2019 Common Cause Foundation

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