From hidden desires to public relations, from subliminal advertising to lifestyle marketing, from consumerism to politics this BBC documentary is a must-see for all marketers. The Century of Self is a four-part examination of how Freudian-informed strategies adopted by marketers and politicians have for the better part of a century manipulated mass consumer and voting behavior by appealing to our unconscious hopes and fears.
Are we a people slavishly ensnared in libidinous forces of aggression and the desire for power? Does democracy only work within a culture of “happiness machines”, a docile, satisfied population who demand emotional fulfillment as consumers and expect it as citizens? Do we really even want the responsibility of rational thought when making our purchase decisions or casting our votes?
The Century of Self is a frank examination of 20th Century marketing and its role in the birth of individualism. And if nothing else, it’s a provocative retrospective of our trade. Covering the rise of all things marketing from focus group testing to polling to market segmentation, we see the evolution of our craft over time from its antecedents in WWI propaganda through its embrace of EST principles in the 1970s.