Watching television growing up, my younger sister would pay vastly more attention to the advertisements than the actual programme. She would find the programme boring — the colours and sounds uninspiring.
When the ads would come on, the rest of us would walk away for bio breaks or to fetch snackage. The loud music, flashing glittery colours, and heavily-made-up celebrity faces using voices they would otherwise reserve for speaking with toddlers or pets — would enthrall my sister. She would wait solemnly through the programme for the ads, and when they finally arrived, she would leap up to clap, sing, and dance along.
Like many of us children of modernity’s consumerist societies, she bought into all the messages being sold. What she learned from those ads became the core of her identity as a consumer — which is indeed what we are all seen as within the age of late-stage capitalism.
The ads are designed to capture our attention, sell us an idea, and get us to act on that idea.
True long-term success happens when an ad doesn’t even have to sell a product or service — it sells you a feeling. An idea in the form of a brand. A brand that is carefully crafted so that you, the consumer, begin to adopt the beliefs chanted like a mantra — until you are manipulated into forming the mantra into your own personal identity, and the collective identity of your inner circle of friends and peers.
For me growing up, it was Adidas’ Impossible Is Nothing, a commercial slogan championing the underdog yet featuring those already on top.
adidas lets its biggest athletes including David Beckham, Haile Gebrselassie and Muhammad and Laila Ali face their fears, defeats and challenges only to prove that, indeed, impossible is nothing. The slogan became the synonym for reaching one’s goals.
— Adidas Group History (archived page)