Investigating the anti-consumerism movenent in North America: the case of adbusters



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This dissertation investigates the anti-consumerist movement called “culture jamming,” the practice of critiquing mass media messages and their influence on culture by subverting their messages through artistic satire. Culture jamming, which views the media as a means of constructing a false reality, intends to challenge the frame of mind that internalizes media messages without thinking. Culture jammers, practitioners of this mass media critique practice, can be viewed as spokespeople for postmodern era culture critics. They create an alternative consumer resistance media that replies back to the mass media messages based on existing media artifacts. This dissertation explores the critique of advertising by culture jammers and how consumers respond to such anti-consumption rhetoric. It is important for advertising academicians to study consumer resistance movements, specifically anti-consumerist media activism that directly attack the cultural products of advertising. An in-depth investigation of such critical discourse would provide the advertising literature with the insight needed to evolve into an allencompassing arena. There is a significant lack in the body of knowledge in this area and this dissertation aims to put one stone in this gap. Thus, this dissertation aims to investigate the effects of consumers’ attitudes toward subvertisements on attitudes toward the brand depending on brand loyalty/familiarity. We hypothesize that except for the extreme groups on the loyalty scale, the consumers will struggle to distinguish between subvertisements and advertisements, which will result in all messages being read as original ads. As a result, subvertisements will reinforce their pre-test attitudes toward the brand. Thus, subvertisements will not function as oppositional messages; on the contrary, their effects will be similar to those of co-opted messages. This dissertation aims to gain insight on advertising professionals’ views on and anti-consumption rhetoric and co-optation strategies as well as consumer resistance movements