The purpose of publicity is to make the spectator marginally dissatisfied with his present way of life, offering a improved alternative of what he is.
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It begins working on our natural appetite for pleasure. But it never celebrate pleasure itself but it is always about the future buyer, offering them a image of them made glamorous by the product it try to sell. It doesn't celebrate pleasure itself because it is not about pleasure but social relation. Its promise not pleasure but happiness; happiness as judged from the outside by others.
Being envied is a solitary form of reassurance. The spectator-buyer is meant to envy themselves as she will become if she buys the product. The publicity image steals her love of herself as she is, and offer it back to her for the price of the product.
All publicity works upon anxiety. The sum of everything is money. To get money is to overcome anxiety. Alternatively, the anxiety publicity plays is the fear that by having nothing you will be nothing. So money becomes life itself. Money becomes the key to every human capacity. The power to spend money is the power to live. And to be able to live is to be desirable.
So people lives in a contradiction on what they are and what they desire to be and it is refoced by the work condition. The interminable present of meaningless working hours is 'balanced' by dreamt future in which imaginary activity replaces the passivity of the moment. In his or her day dream the passive worker become the active consumer.
Publicity does not manufacture the dream. What it does is to tell us that we are not yet enviable - yet could be.
Publicity is the product of the consumer society. It propagate through images that society's belief in itself. It is the life of this culture - in so far as without publicity capitalism could not survive - and at the same time publicity is its dream.
The text is a resume from the chapter 7 of 'Ways of Seeing' by John Berger.