consensus or non consensual

3 facts that surprise me:
1/An acquaintance of mine has been sleeping  on the living room floor with her teenage sons in her mother's house since she split with her husband a year ago.
2/ the neighbour of a colleague of mine gets his water from a stand pipe in the street. His house has no running water.
3/ A senior agency figure trains congregational members in martial arts so they can provide security for London synagogues

I mention these because they sit completely outside the presumed consensual reality where people sleep on beds, do up their kitchens, shop in supermarkets and go on foreign holidays. And advertising unfailingly references the consensus – what the average or slighly above average person is presumed to be doing.

Today I met with Janis Wilson from Archetypology - I can't tell you much from our meeting apart from to say that there's something on the brew. She is really interesting on how advertising works. She points out that advertising deliberately references a shared reality – that's how it does its magic. Interesting because although she is approaching this using archetypes, she is also interested in the interface between archetypal thinking and neuroscience – how the brain is actually constructed. I had foolishly assumed that she would use archetypes independent of the hardware of the brain when she is working her way towards an integrated theory of how archetypal thinking contributes to brand success.

I mention this because we appear to value original ideas so highly in advertising. When actually the ideas need to be general. They never reference unique persons and situations. They do reference everyman. It would be very useful to prove that this generalised approach actually works. Because I am concerned that it just washes over people. I would love to see more uniqueness in ads. But suspect that isn't going to happen.  I wonder if this is why advertising seems more dull by comparison with the grit and detail of thousands of lives sampled via social media channels – where particularity is what makes it interesting. It is the possibility of sharing an individual's experience. Unless brands can find a way to participate in that kind of particularity then I really wonder why they try to 'befriend' people in these spaces. Universality misses the point. Its not why we're there.  I hope that the pendulum is shifting away from universal consensual realities to something much more diverse.



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