Editor's note: Want to know what the other side thinks? I received the following hand-written letter from legendary comic book artist R. Crumb in response to my inquiry whether he would be interested in illustrating for Promo. A disclaimer: the author's opinions are his own and do not reflect the magazine's sentiments. But we would appreciate your comments on his perception of the business. Please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm glad you sent me those copies of Promo. Every page is dripping with an approach to life and business that is a bit shocking to a layman.
In the four issues that you sent me, I found only one small critical article, the one in which the professor questions the ethics of product placement. I commend you for running at least one article in which ethical questions were discussed.
Yes, it was educational to read Promo. My wife Aline and I learned a lot about how they're planning and scheming to "lure" us with "incentives" to "drive" us as "consumers" to "target" our "demographic." It's kinda horrifying, Larry. Children need to be protected from these people. They're preying on our hearts and minds to get our money. Many of them use the word "fun".. "the fun personality of the brand." Right... "Fun," that's the ticket.
I can't imagine doing a cover for this magazine that wouldn't be offensive to the advertisers and the typical Promo reader, as I would have to portray these marketing geniuses as something close to child molesters and heroin dealers. To me the level of morality in what they do isn't that different...the disregard for the sociological consequences of their actions (though it's all perfectly legal, of course) is appalling to behold.
Promo, in that regard, is a real revelation.
I believe that in a society that inundates its members constantly with manipulative sales pitches, we all suffer a kind of brain damage. Truly, it is harmful to us, to our minds, our intelligence, our emotional well-being. The alert individual finds that he/she must cultivate strong habits of resistance, and a strong, constant critique of the "fun" being sold to us.
I wonder that so many people can be engaged in this business of preying on the "consumer."
But like I said, I'm glad you sent the magazines. We get to see inside the business. Our knowledge of how it works is increased.
"Guerrilla marketing." That's gonna be the next big thing. Ho boy...STAY ALERT...