When the SCOTUS Citizen United decision came down some years ago everyone wondered what impact this would have on democracy, elections. Speculation ran rampant from what the value of an individual vote was (in U.S. dollars) to a government totally independent of the window dressing votes – a politics of high finance. Now the dust seems to have settled and some of the nitty gritty, everyday actualities of this decision are coming to the surface. For one, we have the marketing of government much in the same manner as the marketing of utilities, hospitals or educational facilities. No, we’re not talking about government programs but private enterprises like electric or natural gas providers, hospitals or clinics, public, private, charter elementary schools. The choices are extremely limited and usually “predetermined” (in an accident most injured folks won’t rise up on the gurney and tell the EMS personnel that they want to go to Saint Ann’s and not Grant). Branding is what a large chunk of what private companies’ marketing/promotional budgets strive to establish. With government’s need to act with the speed of business, we see vague, L.L. Bean style feel good ads marketing a political party (“if that makes me one, well, it’s not such a bad thing”). In addition to this, we have the entire creation of entertainment venues in order to “soft sell” (subliminal marketing) the products of that political party – much as Disney or Pixar create animation movies to be able to market Star Wars Light Sabers or Buzz Lightyear PJ’s, or action FX movies with no plot or story specifically created for product placement or rollout (fashions, transportation or technology). Now we have the continuous marketing of Fox’s upcoming reality game show “the First Debate”. Only the top ten will make the stage! Who will it be? All the news sites (including NPR and PBS) have been promoting the roll out of this new entertainment venue much as they do for Harry Potter books or Star Trek releases. To say it is brilliant marketing would be an understatement. The projected summer reality show is cut from the same cloth as American Idol, Ultimate Survivor, Dancing With Cigars and other such “competitive” shows where winning or losing can make or break the entrants careers. And of course, it’s still winner take all! This is what Citizens United looks like in real time where democracy is now “enhanced” by being marketed with value added entertainment for a quality voting experience. These premiums make anything unbranded unsaleable and irrelevant (you can even bundle your vote). Governments create markets (don’t believe it? Check out NAFTA, the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Outlet Mall coming to 36/37 in Delaware county, as well as Newark’s own Canal Market District). With Citizens United we’ve begotten the marketing of democracy with brand loyalty determined to be THE critical issue of any election. Who will make the stage in Cleveland for Murdoch’s Fox network summer block buster? Who will have the most shelf space on stage? The front runner has the highest brand recognition, who will win the tenth spot? What will be Apple’s next tech “must have” differs little from who will make the debate ten. This fall, freedom will be on the ballot in the form of an amendment to the Ohio constitution granting marketing exclusivity to ten, and only ten, brands.


Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: