Advertisements and Market System

My System: The Waste Removal System in New York City

  1. Something is thrown out
  2. It rots and gets stinky
  3. More things rot in the container, heat, and get stinkier, setting off the sensor
  4. The trash is removed from the container
  5. Trash is taken via garbage truck and transported to landfill
  6. Trash rots in landfill

Systems Analysis

1. What are the patterns, trends and commonalities evolving from your observations?
As I observed the advertisements displayed around the campus, I began to notice one common pattern: each advertisement was trying to resell the audience something they already had within themselves. It almost appeared as if the goal was to repackage an existing product and sell it off as something not new or different, but better. That product was the student, teacher or passerby that happened to look at it. Whether it was a photography student hoping to charge other photography students for “lessons” or a poster advertising self-help and mindfulness group meetings, it did feel like the marketers were trying to reach into an existing part of their target audience. Some advertisements were more extreme than others, suggesting that the person was incomplete or in need of repair, others felt like a folly attempt to make money off students’ insecurity and disposable income.
2. What kinds of structures/ realities allow for these patterns and trends? In other words, what causes and allows these patterns and trends to exist?
The cause of these patterns is the predatory nature of advertisers and their keen awareness of the behavior of the student population. Most of the individuals writing these advertisements are students themselves. Therefore, they know how to grab the attention of their peers. This can include anything from colloquialisms, language (many advertisements contained two languages, indicating just which type of student it was meant for), images, color palette, and campus placement. For example, advertisements near the plotter printers largely consisted of scrap fabric sales and used book advertisements. Plotter printers are often used by fashion students to print clothing patterns and project displays due to their large size and location to the fashion design studios.
3.What is the impact of these patterns?  (Which are intended and which are unintentional?)
The social impact of these advertisements can be measured without metrics. Most spend a beat or two looking at the advertisement, and another beat scoffing or making a quick remark. When there is constant pressure from professors, professionals, and then, peers, to improve one-self, feelings of inadequacy begin to seep in. This could potentially lead to students joining in the clubs advertised, joining self-help mailing lists, or buying used products if they feel it would better their education. However, the information for the turnout of advertisements is unknown. For now, advertisements will continue to pressure students to conform to the “New School Standard” by trying to resell them what they already contain.

My System and Interpretation:

I reimagined the systems map as hyperbolic statements and fictitious advertisements that I would expect to see around The New School. Once again, playing on the notion that advertisers try to make students believe they do not own and are not included in what they are initially trying to sell. My inspiration behind my advertisements was Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Insinuating that by buying into the product and mythology of advertisements displayed, the needs of the consumer would be satiated.

Part 2:

My initial system map consisted of 5 satirical advertisements parodying The New School marketing style: pastel colors, catchy phrases, and refined line drawings. I felt that the advertisements displayed around the school were site specific, and were focused on selling students the allure of a self-fulfilling prophecy, rather than selling them product. I came to this conclusion after several ads focused on telling students to improve their artistic skill by acquiring new art supplies, their friendships by joining clubs, or themselves by signing up for classes. I decided to create my own spin, and create ads that directly aimed to sell onlookers a sense of belonging, confidence, human touch, the need to fit in, and the need to be loved.


The next phase of this project was to post these “advertisements” around the school campus in site specific locations.

1) What are the patterns, trends and commonalities evolving from your observations?
Upon revisiting the advertisement around school, patterns that I have observed are mostly involved with artistic choices in addition to the messages conveyed. For example, most advertisements contain a combination of  illustration and text components, soft color palettes, and a select amount of information. Perhaps it is why vague wording can lead to multiple interpretations of a single phrase. If an ad has too many words, it is likely to be ignored. However, if the advertisement has few, it appears to be more concise, and therefore, one can think they are understanding the true meaning, whilst imagining their own definition. 

2) What kinds of structures/ realities allow for these patterns and trends? In other words, what causes and allows these patterns and trends to exist?
These patterns exist because the advertisements are created by students, for students. Students are able to approach one another an understanding of shared interests, responsibilities and stressors. Because of this, it is much easier for a student to appeal to another student than for a faculty-administered advertisement to appeal to the student body. 

3) What is the impact of these patterns?  (Which are intended and which are unintentional?)
The impact of these advertisements could lead to an unintentional increase in stress and insecurity among the student body. A student may feel that he or she is missing an integral part of her education because she does not own a $7 beginners sewing kit. Or, another student may feel like they are at risk for decreasing their potential chances for employment if he does not have a professional website to display his work, and therefore may seek out a student advertising web design services to create a website for him. If students are constantly faced with the idea that they must improve who they are and what they are doing, they may be left feeling that they are inadequate in their current state. 

The system can be resisted in two forms. The first form resting on the hands of the student advertisers. Before students make advertisements, they should take into consideration three important factors: who is supposed to see this, what are they supposed to buy, and where can they reach me? Identifying these three components is a much faster way of directly marketing a product to an intended consumer. The system becomes most vulnerable when the advertisements are unclear, as the message can become misconstrued, lost, or even offensive. A poor example of this is as follows:
The corporate Oikos logo is directly on top of the ad and the same font color as the middle text. This is visually confusing as it both stands out and blends in at the same time. The Meet & Greet is sloppily arranged over the page, coming to a close with the ill-fitted maroon frame. There are no specifications as to who the meet and greet is for, whether or not it is sponsored by the The New School Student Organization for Sustainable Economics and Management or if it is only for members of that club. In addition to this mass of confusion, the advertisement is undated. Rather there is only a time slot given for when the meet and greet is taking place. The second way in which the system can be resisted is on the position of the student audience. By disregarding advertisements, or ignoring the messages that encourage them to endlessly buy and improve, they will no longer be trapped in a system of belief that potentially holds them at the bottom. If students learn to look away from and look past the messages and mumbled advertisements, such as the Oikos meet and greet, The New School will be a much more positive and productive atmosphere, with students who feel more confident in the work they produce.

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