By Melanie Swalwell
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Additional resources for Aesthetics and Hyper aesthetics. Rethinking the Senses in Contemporary Media Contexts
I would argue that no one actually believes anymore that performance can be continually ‘enhanced’ whilst staying calm. There is a frenzy about the very demands for increased productivity, matching the physical frenzy perhaps of those striving to meet raised targets (as did Charlie Chaplin on the production line in “Modern Times”). However, the success of this particular, limited conception of what constitutes productive behaviour means that it is rarely the subject of scrutiny. Nor are indices measuring efficiency, or the assumptions on which measurements are premised – what counts as an ‘outcome’ or ‘product’, for instance – often the subject of analysis.
Stimulation, particularly that resulting in intense sensation, has virtually become an end in itself, as one advertisement after another promises that with the use of a particular product comes an extraordinary sensory experience. In this chapter, I will examine three recent print advertisements in detail – for Jolt Cola, Onkyo home theatre, and Panasonic Mini System stereos – heeding the claims each make for the experiences resultant from their use. Whilst there is a large literature on advertising and its effectiveness, it is not these aspects which preoccupy me in analysing these advertisements.
This can be seen as an extension of the claim, popular in business and communications at the moment, that “the old rules don’t apply any longer”. In part the features of this break are traceable, though it is also a break manufactured for its marketing potential, for the novelty that inheres in a new start. Casting the old in a pejorative light, Jolt steps into the breach, differentiating itself by its break with tradition. As a relatively new entrant to the ‘cola wars’ (and perhaps also in part to avoid being labelled an imitator), Jolt identifies as the “maverick”, the underdog, the “upstart” of cola companies, attempting to singularise the company ‘vision’.