Public Opinion, Soft Drink & Spectacle.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
Edward Bernays

Public opinion is the most popular opinion if a survey were administered and the top results collected. It does not require a logical explanation, a position held may be arrived at by different approachs. It is this public opinion which democratic institutions should define and apply. It is this public opinion which advertising firms seek to manipulate for private gain.

Public opinion is not entirely free, nor entirely national. Restrictions on free speech vary from false advertising, to inciting riots, to threats. International opinions are beyond any single nation, and Earth Day is a demonstration of public opinion unrestricted by national boundaries. Attention given to dissent varies in quality and quantity, and this feeds back into public attitudes about the current state of affairs.

This ‘invisible government’ is not as coherent as it may soiund. Public health government  departments and Coca-Cola advertisers both influence public behaviour and opinion in effectively opposite directions. It is an scary world where the best & brightest in this field are more likely found in a private company than public service. That is where they are though, for good or ill.

The competition for the public attention is where the Spectacle proper begins. NYC regulations of soft drinks began a Spectacle which reached Australian shores and for good cause, obesity is a major health problem here & there. A major public health problem, treated with socially supported medicine, the cost of which can be assisted by taxation on the billions of profits of soft drink companies.

The then mayor of  NYC, a city 50%+ obese, sought to regulate and moderate soft drink consumption. The anti-soft drink aspect of the Spectacle expressed itself in forms of newspaper stories, talk show segments and billboards displaying health messages. The pro-soft drink aspect of the Spectacle manifested in the same forms but also could draw on the Spectacle of the brand. Brands which advertise as though a tropical getaway were taken with each sip, or at least when you feel like a holiday, sip that feeling away. Truly there are soft drink brands which are international, and these brands won (by constitutional appeal that government exceeded it’s authority).

Ability to influence public opinion is found much more in the private pursuit of profit than in public service. This dynamic, of pursuing a fantastic representation for a wage, elevates the Spectacle beyond reality. A company is better known by advertising than by the real conditions, and in pursuit of a sale companies (Fair Trade Coffee) advertise the real conditions, as though your purchase is needed to validate decent working conditions. Coca-Cola is not the company which supplied a cocaine infused tonic to the public, it is not the company which drained drinking water in poor, rural India, Coca-Cola is the Spectacle manufactured by the marketing department. It is global. It is not going away soon. There has got to be a better way.

“The Indian parliament has banned the sale of Coke and Pepsi products in its cafeteria. Indian parliamentarians should take the logical next step, and ban the sale of Coke and Pepsi products in the entire country.

The ban came as the result of tests, including those by the Indian government, which found high concentrations of pesticides and insecticides, including lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos, in the colas, making them unfit for consumption. Some samples tested showed the presence of these toxins to be more than 30 times the standard allowed by the European Union. Tests of samples taken from the US of the same drinks were found to be safe.” – source

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