Thursday, June 17, 2010

General Observations - a complaint of an ALL ROUND nature (an open letter to the Advertising Standards Bureau - Australia)

To Whom It May Concern,

You may consider this complaint to be superficial and unofficial given your obvious stakeholders. And it is not in response to a 'particular advertisement' but rather at the way things are going across the board.

However, I am a mother of three children and I have a few things to pass along.

I don't watch television much anymore... Because of the advertising. Our television never leaves the ABC (kids shows) hardly, because there is no advertising (despite the fact I also have programming concerns, another issue obviously). I am offended that advertising is constantly thrust in my face, it is incessant and annoying. I have a budget and when I need something I go looking for it!

I am a trained Advertising Professional with Marketing experience and a Graphic Designer. I know the psychology of advertising, in fact I spend a great deal of time with the Art Action Union collective teaching people about it and how it is used to brainwash you to part with your own dear cash, but also how these brainwashing principles can be used positively - i.e.. the opposite of what you see around you and always allowing ETHICS as your guide. I guess in that sense, you are an enemy to my cause :-)

ETHICS... I am compelled to say this again, ETHICS; MORALITY.

As a mother of three who understands the marketing strategies that some (perhaps not all) advertisers employ... I am continually appalled and angry, really bloody angry, that bodies like yourself judge things in the way you do. Lets face it... for every complaint you get there is a plethora of people out there who feel that they don't have a voice at all (regardless of services such as yourselves) and that when complaints ARE made and nothing is acted on you all look like your taking cash in paper bags from the high rollers... sorry, but it's one perception.

Now, sexualisation of children, sexualisation of women in general and the general marketing that takes place for the lowest common denominator of human response is so rife I wonder if people (as you say you base your standards on the GENERAL FEELING IN THE PUBLIC, possibly based on skewed focus groups to a degree) ... what if our public aren't exactly as educated or as behaved as we would like to be as a nation?

Women and children are, according to the UN, marginalised and at risk in many many countries. I am increasingly ashamed in a personal sense, that there ARE NO intellectual or intelligent ads anymore. Before soft porn became the norm in GENERAL media areas (which I have to think this body has benchmarked things that way) you saw some really well thought out and clever ads. Artistic expression in advertising was at an all time high, now advertising executives seem to not be even able to THINK in alternative strategies when presenting to certain potential clients their concepts. These industries are clearly defined to the viewer, but I won't go there now.

What I really want to ask, above all else is to goddam show some community leadership please!

I will state again, Women and children are, according to the UN, marginalised and at risk in many many countries (this one included) and I am constantly, constantly engaged in conversations with other parents about the appalling 'standard' of the advertising in this country when it comes to SEX in a generalised sense.

For one thing not everyone gets turned on by public nudity, in fact some people are actually sickened by it. Not everyone is having sex, particularly not every teenager and for goodness sake let kids be kids...

In some ways the fact that YOU need focus groups to tell you if the community ETHICS of a commercial are in line with "people's level of desensitisation, or rather tolerance" is the opposite of what many believe a leading body in a media (that eats people's brains alive) is supposed to be doing, ETHICS don't change, people's adherence to them does though, and this is evidence in itself that you are out of touch with a dedication to preserving our community morals.

Of course the advertisers are going to pressure you to not regulate them... because SEX sells, but it also keeps people in a state of sexual arousal, particularly if one person is prone to engaging in pornographic activities, and it could validate negative social behaviours in a worse case scenario.

Could you please listen to the academics that place importance on the psyche of our nation, as a born entity of this media that we are told to be obsessed with?

Could you please understand that your complaints system is flawed, for many will not complain because we are told we are prudish or uncool if we don't want to boof that chick in her jeans while her top is off... ETC.

This is an emotional response to a news article, and I have wanted to complain many times, but MUM and DAD are BUSY trying to keep our kids happy and homed and fed, but the increasing drama? The thing I spend more time doing than a lot of things these days, is making sure that my kids understand that they are NOT sexual entities because of marketing. Kids ask questions, they get curious - but letting them be kids and not be caught up with what they should be for another man or woman is MORE important. More important than profit!

Our school's billboard marketing says this week: "Every child, Every chance, Every day" - media removes these rights from marginalised families and communities.

I haven't even started on the psychology of these things for the MANY MANY MANY victims of sexual crime in this country.

Sex also can be traumatising for some... with the philosophy and strategy you have on public display (particularly at this time of reassessment for your body) you are saying:

1. Everyone in this country is of a particular moral standard and there will be NO negative effects in the long psychological haul of life ... I mean, I have seen extreme changes in my life and I am only 34!

2. Everyone in this country agrees with small focus groups, not possible - show me the independence of the survey please. Show me the demographics of the social groups please. Show me the MARKET RESEARCH in a TRANSPARENT and non-industry biased format please.

3. Everyone in this country treats women and children with respect, crime stats attest to this imbalance. Again, as does the UN and World Health Organization.

4. There are NO victims AT ALL as a result of incessant and community complacent advertising over time.

5. That continually pandering to desensitisation of sexual violence, crime and objectification of women and children (and men even) is a GOOD thing for us (yes, your marketing is saying that to me). There can only be one eventual outcome... what happens when no one cares anymore about protecting people sexual rites to abstaining from sexual based materials? ... what are the future of your decisions for the FUTURE of our SAFE community in AUSTRALIA? I guess the church are no longer morally relevant since the worship of money became the new 'religion' therefore we only have YOU to rely on, having said that I don't go to church and maintain my own spirituality, however, for a while there they were our moral lobby group weren't they?

6. That there is no need to tailor campaign to a target audience any further, because if the country are desensitised enough, you can use the general audience to perpetuate massive branding campaigns based on SEX, because it sells to the broadest category of unthinking people willing to part with their cash because some company successfully made them feel horny, or that they should be horny, or that making you buy a product and then use it will make you more bonkable to the opposite sex.

Playing with people self-esteem in this way? What are the social and community actions that will eventuate by continually ALLOWING private advertising to MESS WITH HEADS and marginalising people in their own social group?

7. That every parent is responsible, again statistics attest to this NOT being the case.

These aren't knew topics are they? It's a concern to academics, it's a concern for parents and it's a concern for single thinking people too.

For example, this letter of complaint took me an hour away from my kids, now what if I was to complain about every ad and billboard that upset me to the point of shaking and crying in disappointment and anger?

I would never leave my computer and you would consider me a serial pest... Now should we discuss the personality demographic of those that are brave enough to speak up? We all have different personalities apparently but not if we are getting sexual ads thrust in our sphere of thinking.

The ONLY course a parent can take is to be kind of controlling over content (which we would rather not do), which causes marginalisation and disharmony between parent and child and consequently the household in general, and also pits parents against parents as some people really don't care what their children are exposed to and are exposing other children to. Therefore the fallout is that you say that your kids can't play with their friends because you don't trust their parent's judgement and that kids like to share, particularly if they think they are being more grown up and competitive with their peers.

Also, why the hell are we having cases of 6 year olds sexually assaulting other 6 year olds? Probably 30-50% of mothers and fathers have been at the wrong end of sexual abuse at some stage, maybe we are all getting protective of our kids more than ever... why, because we know we are hurting still to this day and - that the bullies telling us to loosen up and stop thinking 'frigid' are most likely those that abuse.

What will be the fallout?

This seems a desperate correspondence, but I have lots of question marks here in this note... I expect someone to answer them intelligently and personally please.

I also feel obligated to let you know this letter will be published to our activist art network, with up to 3000 people... not to publicly humiliate but to raise awareness... not all of them of course will consider this their view but for the last 10 years, this topic ALWAYS arrives in the conversations I have with other parents. ALWAYS, and they are TOO pressured by all the things we are supposed to be doing to complain about every abhorrent ad... and that also makes me think that if advertisers ASSAULT the community during this DEREGULATED time with marginalised sexual ads, that they create desensitisation in the community very quickly and overwhelm the complainers ... which gives them a good footing with you lot doesn't it, a good argument for their case.

See, everyone wants branding of their product don't they - it's the ultimate retail glory! But you can't achieve branding without marketing to the broadest catchment audience... can you? It's a flawed formula for community value if your product is an adult product!

Please, respond, I am anticipating your rebuttal.

Thanks for listening.

ps. THE the article that stirred me to finally spew at you:

If you would like to make your voice heard, do it NOW, this body are re-evaluating ... Totally happy for you to take any part of this letter for your own purposes if you agree with the wording.

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