3.2 Fetishism in anthropology

Fetishism is also an interesting subject to discuss in
the field of anthropology applied to this field of study. Marx argued that commodities were fetishes—objects that
possessed power beyond their physical structure (Marx 1990 1867: 163-177). For
marketing and advertising strategies, beginning in the late-nineteenth century,
had as their objective not only selling products, but also “selling the
system:” (Jhally, Kline, Leiss 1985, 3)

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As it entered the era of
generalized mass production and consumption, towards the end of the nineteenth
century, marketing faced the task of “binding” products to culturally-approved
formats for the satisfaction of wants. To employ technical terminology,
marketing seeks to construct a field of mediations between persons (as
consumers) and things (as commodities) (Jhally, Kline, Leiss 1985, 3). The most
significant modification, however, was the creation of a category to measure
the role of the product in the “lifestyle imagery” ads. It was
necessary to add this category for the television ad because in it the product
is presented “symbolically,” or visually, rather than textually (8).

 

Simply put, it is a concept of celebration of an object,
which humans put various social meaning into it. We objectify our lives in the
materiality of the concrete world in the process called ‘objectification,’ take
what exists outside of us, and, by our activity, make a part of our daily
existence (Jhally 2016, 2). Also, as a result to new commodity fetishism,
consumers derive utility from goods both from their embodied characteristics
and from the ‘environmental conditions’ of their use (Jhally 2016, 18). Jhally
(2016) also emphasizes that the individual acquisition of goods takes place
within social context. In other words, it is the meaning that we put into an
object that plays reciprocal interaction in influencing each other.

 

According to Marx’s ‘commodity of fetish,’ reality of the
commodity is its representations of congealed labor through which it derives
its value. In its unreal or fetished form the commodity appears to have
aboriginal value derived from its material feature. However, it is not merely a
special kind of objects, or defined in terms of their generic functional
attitudes (Ellen 1998, 213). Fetishism rather reveal a variable combination of
three underlying features of categorization and representation characteristics
of all thought: these are concretization, animation or anthropomorphisation,
conflation or signifier with signified, and an ambiguous relationship of
control between a person and object (Ellen 1998, 213). Simply put, they lie on
a processual continuum which begins with the identification of categories,
relationships and phenomena, and proceeds via reification and iconification to
their personification. Using this complex method, the relationship between
fetishism and the items or image the commercials depict would be discussed in
the following video analysis.

 

When applied to this research, fetishism acts as a key
role that facilitate the effectiveness of the commercial. We generally have
positive image in certain types of music, sports, high quality fashion and so
on. The video contents that follows make use of these positive effects that we
have fetish about into these commercials. The image we have on these sources
are a socially constructed norm that has been developed empirically, being
handed down from past to the present. In this research, similar approaches can
be seen in the cigarette commercials; how they connect smoking to these
positive images, making positive and attractive “fetish” about it. Also by
evaluating how an object or certain behavior is depicted as in commercials; in
this case, smoking habit, different types of fetish smokers had in the past,
and will have in the future is researched.

 

3.3 Language of Commercials

The third concept this paper uses is the language of
commercials. Basically, it is investigating the language tactics and skills
that the advertisers use in order to grab people’s minds into buying their
products. Language conveys culture specific knowledge and values (Roitsch 2014,
14). Therefore, it is through ingenious and clever anthropological approach
that can convey the message that an advertiser tries to deliver, and earn
people’s support. There are quite a few ideas about how language plays a role
in advertisements; Schroder’s The Language of Advertising (1985) demonstrate an
aspect of the question by arguing that advertisers take a certain behavior or
attitude as the norm, without explicitly saying so (Tanaka 2001, 6).

 

Also, Halmari and Virtanen
(2005) argue that the language of advertising is the product of a linguistic
adaption to a context in which messages are aimed at a vast audience
representing an array of backgrounds and presuppositions (137). For instance, commercials
can link cigarette to finding peace in mind by showing a scene where a man
takes break in daily life using cigarette as a gateway to new state of mind, it
can also be understood as behavior of finding ritual related anthropology.

 

Indeed, the advertising agencies, television stations,
newspaper companies and many production companies tend to do their best to
impress their visitors with modern buildings, expensive interior designs, and
spacious halls and offices (Moeran 2007, 2). Some advertisements use attention-getting devices to engage the
audience to make people want to listen. (importance of proper lighting for mood
setting, memorable music themes associated with products, and the use of
dancing to add flair) (Alatis and Tucker 1979, 278). Also, in advertising texts
describing items in common usage, the need for explicitness will be broadly
equal across different catalogs and that any language not primarily fulfilling
an essential descriptive information purpose will be left out (Halmari and
Virtanen 2005, 141).

 

After all, it is how they introduce and use properly word
their product that results in better sales. With marketing and persuasive
communication being the two major components of advertising (Moeran 2007, 27)
commercials try to shape its product in a way that would be most attractive to
its customers. Use of comparatives, using adjectives such as top-quality,
longer-lasting, and connotations such as showing armchair to show comfort are
also some of the instances of language that can be found in commercials (Kannan
2013, 4). For cigarette companies, it would be wordings such as ‘fresh’,
‘peace’, ‘mild’ that are commonly used in commercials, which are the languages
that imply that the customers can earn them when they buy the product. High
quality, artistic, outgoing images all fall into this category, as people tend
to be attracted to these features.

 

3.4 Anthropology of advertising

Creating a successful commercial requires a full
understanding of one’s culture inside and out. Charles Winick, the author of
the book, Journal of marketing,
argues that there are at least three kinds of situations in which the knowledge
of anthropologist has been employed in marketing: specific knowledge, awareness
of themes of a culture, sensitivity to taboos (Winick 1961, 56). Gathering
information about one’s culture, ordering that information within domestic
institutions, and then instituting policy decisions based on that information
parallels the ethnographic process in anthropology (Englis 2017, 103). Indeed,
anthropological approaches to consumer’s lives take a holistic approach that
incorporates the range of behaviors that people are involved in on a daily
basis (Malefyt, Morais 2013, 13). This intersecting of lives, resources, and
technology is only one illustration of research projects that link our thinking
with the larger landscape of consumer experience, category fluidity, and
cultural interconnectivity (13). This process also demands
that we engage a range of intellectual approaches within anthropology and from
outside of anthropology, in disciplines such as personality and social
psychology, linguistics, literature, and philosophy (13).

 

Likewise, understanding the right
coding is essential for commercials to function. For instance, Japanese tobacco
commercials made a dramatic shift from smoking promotion to coexistence, by
emphasizing that we are all different in nature and deserve to be respected. It
emphasizes how smokers deserve to smoke in public places as long as they keep
manners, and we all must respect that. Seeing how conventional smoking ads,
which merely beautified the act of smoking, changed into this manner, we can
understand how important anthropology of advertising is working is. Realizing
that the conventional smoking promotion ads no more work with masculine and
artistic men smoking, and especially with the recognition of health issues, the
tobacco company now focus on justifying and protecting the right of smokers. Indeed, they excel in reading
the stream and the atmosphere of the society, understanding and applying this
idea in cultural coding of Japanese society.