‘The Hidden Persuaders‘ by Vance Packard was first published in 1957, which means it is nearly 60yrs old.
I was just flicking through it and came across this passage.
It made me think how TV ads for new toys and gadgets will be on children’s TV channels and junk mail will be coming through our doors encouraging housewives (and househusbands) to fill kitchen cupboards with biscuits and bottles of wine.
“What is the morality of the practice of encouraging housewives to be non-rational and impulsive in buying family food?
What is the morality of playing upon hidden weaknesses and frailties – such as our anxieties, aggressive feelings, dread of non-conformity, and infantile hang-overs – to sell products? Specifically, what are the ethics of businesses that shape campaigns designed to thrive on these weaknesses they have diagnosed?
What is the morality of manipulating small children even before they reach the age where they are legally responsible for their actions?
What is the morality of treating voters like customers, and child customers seeking father images at that?
What is the morality of exploiting our deepest sensitivities and yearnings for commercial purposes?
What is the morality of appealing for our charity by playing upon our secret desires for self-enhancement?
What is the morality of developing in the public an attitude of wastefulness toward national resources by encouraging the ‘psychological obsolescence’ of products already in use?
What is the morality of subordinating truth to cheerfulness in keeping the citizen posted on the state of his nation?”