Media Resistance to Consumer Resistance: on the Stonewalling of &Quot;Adbusters&Quot; and Advocates

Richard W. Pollay, University of British Columbia
[ to cite ]:
Richard W. Pollay (1993) ,"Media Resistance to Consumer Resistance: on the Stonewalling of &Quot;Adbusters&Quot; and Advocates", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 129.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993      Page 129

MEDIA RESISTANCE TO CONSUMER RESISTANCE: ON THE STONEWALLING OF "ADBUSTERS" AND ADVOCATES

Richard W. Pollay, University of British Columbia

Several new institutions have recently emerged with intent to comment on and counteract the commercialization of every venue of our culture: Adbusters Magazine, the Center for the Study of Commercialism (CSC), the Foundation for Media Education (FME), and the Cultural Environmental Movement (CEM). This presentation emphasized the activities of more populist Adbusters and CSC, with briefer comment on the educational FME and the association of academics, CEM, led by Dean George Gerbner, at Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications. Despite experience, expertise and appropriate financial resources, both Adbusters and CSC have experienced major difficulties getting their efforts carried by the media.

The Center for the Study of Commercialism is based in Washington, D.C. "to encourage a simpler lifestyle and combat Madison Avenue's advertising barrage." With experience and success (as an off-shoot of the Center for the Science in the Public Interest), CSC researches, documents, publicizes and exposes the "excessive intrusion of commercial interests." Through conferences, production of pamphlets, books and videos, lobbying efforts, pedagogical materials, it advocates measures to counter or halt certain forms on marketing, e.g. Channel One commercial TV in grade schools. Its first major study, "Dictating Content: How Advertising Pressure Can Corrupt a Free Press," was the subject of a press conference that was largely boycotted by major media. Subsequent coverage, led by NPR, focused on this boycott by commercial media.

Adbusters is a quarterly magazine with the twin goals of (1) raising consciousness of commercial excess and (2) elevating the media awareness and skills of those in the environmental movement. Distributed to 7,000 educators, environmentalists, business leaders and advertising agencies by the Media Foundation, this 72 to 96 paged medium has now completed 6 issues. It provides an "environmental strategist" column, advertising satire, and articles with provocative titles such as: The McBraining of America, American Excess, The Buy-ological Urge, The Casino Society, Guerilla Advertising, etc. It is proactive with its education of environmentalists and several on going campaigns such as a "Tubehead" PSA campaign against TV addiction and TV spots which highlight the "American Excess." The PSAs were be shown, a rare opportunity, as they have been typically boycotted by broadcasters despite willingness to pay for airtime. Sample copies of the current issue of Adbusters were available.

----------------------------------------