Magazine article Marketing

Aesthetics Are Suffering from Commercialism

Magazine article Marketing

Aesthetics Are Suffering from Commercialism

Article excerpt

A bridge of over-indulgence during the festive season has induced corporations to perform mass absolution and put "ethics" firmly on the agenda for 1995. The caring, feeling consumer traits of the 90s are finally making themselves felt in the corridors of power: morality holds the key to competitive advantage and the covetable asset for the next few years is a corporate soul.

And so the scramble has begun; the scramble, that is, to occupy the moral high ground. Morality is the message and those working in the medium for the message are being drafted in to help. In a world that lives off face value, concern is equated with a loud proclamation of awareness rather than quiet consideration and modest action; a negative correlation exists between the marketable strength of an ethical positioning and real corporate action.

Ironically, the bravest ethical decisions are the ones that travel through the grapevine: Merck Sharp and Dohme have developed and freely supplied medicines for African river-blindness; Levi-Strauss ceased manufacturing in China over human-rights issues. But these are triumphs we hear little of; instead, as consumers, we are surrounded by the messages of calculated manoeuvre.

For marketers, ethical communication is big business. In design, the annual report has traditionally been the arena in which to communicate a commitment to ethical practice, but this tradition has now pervaded all other elements of the corporate identity mix. It is a dangerous time for corporate design: in the race to pander to client whims, the discipline is abandoning its own ethical practices and running the risk of over-commercialising a tradition which is founded on the aesthetic. …

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