The German car maker was accused by the Environmental Protection Agency (APA) of modifying their vehicles to cheat in emission tests. The regulatory authority sets standards that limit the amount of carbon monoxide released by motor vehicles to the atmosphere. In addition, customers prefer purchasing cars that are compliant to the EPA regulations. This forces manufacturers to find creative ways to circumvent some of these standards as a way of increasing their sales. Volkswagen cheated on emission tests by adding software to control computers that would switch on or off the emission controls. The cheating device commonly known as the defeat device listens for testing conditions such as the switching off the air conditioning system. In this case, the car automatically activates the emission control devices and the results indicate compliance. However, the gadgets automatically switch off the control once the testing process is over.
In a recent interview, the chairman admitted that the irregularity was caused by the desire to increase the sale of diesel cars in the United States. However, the scandal has grown to cover over 11 million globally that need to be recalled and installed with new emission controls. In addition, the irregularities affect the three leading brands from the company namely Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche. The company admits that the environmental regulations were introduced to safeguard the interests of the customers. However, they failed to implement the necessary changes since they lacked interventions that were within their budget. As a result, they were forced to install software in the control computers so that it would regulate emissions. In this way, the company was able to attract customers by presenting standardized products while at the same time cutting down its costs.
The main reason for the diesel dupe scandal by the company was to increase the power and performance of the engine. The vehicles would achieve maximum efficiency by increasing fuel combustion, which in turn increase nitrogen oxide emissions by over 40 times. The motivating factor behind this cheating device was the need to increase the sales of diesel cars. In Europe, 53 percent of the vehicles run on diesel engines forcing the companies to develop ways of appealing to the target market. Further, regions such as the EU allow car sales for products that meet certain conditions and emission controls is the most important one. Therefore, altering the levels of emitted gases during testing provides the company with an opportunity to get market license as well as attract many clients.
In addition, the scandal seems to be an orchestrated procedure that has occurred for several years. The decision to rely on software devices was made by the executive board but they failed to reverse the procedure when they developed technical ability to manufacture the recommended gadgets. In this way, the company was more inclined towards making profits that adjusting their products to meet the international standards. For a long time, the company made steep profits from the sale of these cars by exploring the psychological status of the buyers. Clients were made to think that the vehicles were safe to use, which increased the company’s profits. However, since the scandal erupted, the shares have continued declining and their sales have dropped significantly.
She is an 18-year old Australian Instagram celebrity based on her stunning photos that attracted a huge number of followers. She provided marketing services for a number of companies that had contracted her to sell their products. Controversy started when she decided to delete her Instagram account alongside thousands of photos that had made her an Internet sensation. The main reason for this move was the dramatic editing of these photos by various companies so that they could portray her as a perfect and flawless being. In her videos, the included the original unedited copies and the difference is startling. Marketing companies rely on the emotional appeal on their clients by exhibiting perfection in their product description and brand ambassadors. In this way, the need to look like the models used in the campaign attracts a large number of consumers to the firm’s products. However, the customers fail to achieve the intended level of perfection since it does not exist and the images have been altered digitally.
On the other hand, models used in these campaigns are expected to undergo intense conditioning to maintain their looks. This involves dietary restrictions and numerous photo shoots that aim at creating the perfect image for the media. As a result, their social life is affected and their self-esteem depends on the popularity of their products or social media accounts. In this way, their life is affected since it revolves around the views and likes from the followers. This was one of the reasons why Essena O’Neill quit Instagram since her life was affected by the level of manipulation and the constant need to appeal to her followers.
In one of her posts, Essena claims that she was forced to forego some meals so that she could maintain her physical looks that were needed for internet approval. These restrictions promoted a dishonest and contrived beauty that is considered by many people legitimate. She was forced to restrict her calorie intake by having small meals or skipping them. In addition, she was addicted to internet fame, which forced her to look for photos of other models for inspiration. She would do whatever she could to achieve their tanned tight stomachs and slim thighs. In this way, these photos would motivate her when she was struggling with hunger after skipping her meals. However, people glorify such models and consider them an epitome of beauty without taking into consideration the type of torture they have to endure. Also, people wishing to emulate them but are not willing to make these sacrifices resent themselves when they fail to achieve their target bodies.
Internet fitness bloggers encourage people to have a healthy life by eating well and exercising. However, models used to promote products in these platforms are expected to have bodies that are free of any fat deposits. Achieving this is not an easy task and they are forced to adopt measures that contradict the campaigns of fitness bloggers. In this way, the followers of these models have to achieve impossible standards through unhealthy eating. Their activities are geared towards aesthetics so that they can attract more endorsements. Further, Essena claims that her viewers see the photos as ordinary images but they fail to see the struggle and endurance that the models are subjected to by their sponsors. As a result, people are attracted to beauty and fashion products without taking time to sympathize with the models.
On the other hand, the self-worth of these models is determined by the number of followers accumulated in the social media platforms. Essena claims that she would spend hours checking her account to see the number of people that had liked and commented on her photos. In this way, she was not free to grow, learn, and explore life since it depended on the reactions of others towards her looks. At times she would constantly count the weekly counts she had in her photos as she sought social media validation. In this way, it was difficult to focus on real projects that would improve her life. Further, simple decisions such as the choice of clothing were determined by the intended meaning she wanted to portray. These constraints made it difficult to cope with the stress associated with Internet fame. However, she has resolved to inspire women and uphold their standards by upholding the right diet and living a life that is not dictated by the number of responses received on social media. Consequently, she has started engaging in constructive activities that promote her skill set as well as encourage others to have a better life.
According to Jacques Ellul, “Propaganda is a form of information that panders to our insecurities and anxieties. (Hobbs, 2015)” It is a well claimed and accepted fact that social media and corporate sector have had a sudden boom in the past few decades. Twitter and Facebook are the top most social networking sites which shape and break things in the blink of an eye. Where these networking sites and this corporate sector is a window of opportunity it is also a source of igniting the seed of gossip and propaganda which sometimes gets out of control. A well-known celebrity “Perez Hilton” (famous blogger) uses his blog as a ‘meta’ tool to bring into view for the viewers the undignified articles about celebrities. Why he does this? That is still something he hasn’t told maybe just for the fun of it and maybe just for popularity. When an average person says something about a celebrity the only who would to pay attention are his friends or social circle, online and offline. But when a celebrity voices publicly something about his fellow celeb and into a website read by his followers then the ice catches fire! Some people who have been on his hit list include Lady GaGa, Amanda Bynes and yes his recent target was Jennifer Lawrence whose images were stolen from her personal iCloud as reported by sources.
A similar case happened with Emma Watson. Based on my own experience I Pratek Mathur, I am very pectinate in concept art and have extensive knowledge in Photoshop, I came up with this concept which went viral on social media, which is also a form of a propaganda. When Emma’s role was confirmed in the Disney movie ‘Beauty and the Beast’, As an artist I put this art into action. In an Interview with Tech Insider & business insider I mentioned “I am a huge fan of Disney, so when I learned about the 2017 live action movie, I went straight into Photoshop and designed this concept art, (TechInsider, 2015)I have compiled the pictures of Emma Watson, by taking different parts of her body from different shots of her in different appearances and put together this amazing concept of Emma in Belle’s clothes. I cropped her face from one image and taking her neck from another then focusing on finding the perfect match for her shoulders and later the slim arms were also photoshopped, followed by her graceful body. The end result was brilliant and created a buzz in the fan world of Emma Watson. Those images were posted n twitter and Facebook and soon they were re-tweeted and re-shared by die-heart fans all across the globe. Which is did not expect to get such great a response from this image. The image which I first released had the tittle written on the poster as “Beauty and the Beasta” adding an extra “a” would be the best and easy way for people to point out that the poster is not real as I didn’t intentionally wanted to deceive people. The amazing of this was the fact that although there were people who pointed out the extra letter naming it as a “fake” there were still people who believed that it was real. Later internet picked up the link of another website which I did not include the letter “a” though had to the bottom of the poster the description that the poster is not real. Internet earlier picked it up as real with blogs posting facts and proofs about its validity, to the point where people with a more attention to detail starting questioning its origin and later was reported fake as I published the making off video when I released the poster on social media. I believe that there were many ways an average person would point out that it is fake, with obvious visual traits about its legitimacy, though still people ignored these, and believed that it was real.
A bomb dropped on September 18, 2015—a Volkswagen bombshell, actually.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency notified Volkswagen of violating the Clean Air Act. Why? Volkswagen designed their vehicle software to bypass any test issued by the EPA. The software helped the company curb any suspicions regarding the Clean Air Act. Meanwhile, their cars actually emitted up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere.
The media naturally grew judgmental and skittish. A number of Volkswagen officials have already resigned.
But what does this mean?
Well, let’s break it down. The company tried to sell off large numbers of green grapes. Sounds simple, right? Well, what if they were a seedless grape company, but sold seeded green grapes instead.
Imagine if they sold seeded green grapes WITHOUT telling anyone they sold seeded grapes… while saying they were actually selling seedless grapes to increase sales? Yeah, exactly. That’s pretty dishonest, huh? I mean, honestly, no one likes seeded grapes anyway!
As for the follow-up, Volkswagen tried to win back the good graces of their consumers. To win back buyer trust, they began selling all new hybrid… red grapes. Or, electric cars, to be short.
Speaking of red grapes, there are a lot of companies who try to gain good publicity to build trust, huh? It even influences individuals—like Essena O’Neill, a young Australian Instagrammer. It’s pretty easy to publicize anything on the Internet, especially if you have the will and a good way to get people to listen.
How did Essena O’Neill get caught in the world of red grapes? She gained Instagram fame by uploading evocative natural photos of herself in various situations. Naturally, people responded favorably to such a beautiful pseudo celebrity.
But here’s where the grape metaphor returns with a vengeance. Essena’s photographs – let’s say red seedless grapes – were actually seeded red grapes all along. Sometime after her fast rise to Instagram fame, she revealed her health problems. That made producing all natural photographs problematic. Most of her photos, as it turned out, were photoshopped and staged. That revelation made people wonder how beautiful her photos could be if she posted them as they were naturally….
Speaking of naturally, you don’t actually need grapes to convey something naturally. Rather, you don’t need green grapes to express something to people on the Internet. Not red grapes, black grapes or green grapes. The nature of Internet means you don’t need any particular set of rules to generate publicity.
In fact, you just need a blank slate—or, in this case, blank grapes.
Take this recent Disney animator incident. An animator designed concept art for Beauty and the Beast, featuring heroine Belle on a poster. The poster naturally went viral and allowed audiences to decide for themselves the color grapes they preferred. Red grapes? Green grapes? Black grapes? As it turned out, most preferred red grapes all along.
In an interview, the animator revealed the design was actually unofficial concept art. They designed the poster around the time Disney announced the live action Beauty and the Beast film casting. The grapes weren’t really as ambiguous as the audience thought. But don’t worry—the artist eventually enabled the audience to decide what grapes they preferred all along. Follow the wind, they said, and the audience did. Famous sources like Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show also helped people decide for themselves.
What do grapes have to do with propaganda? Grapes show how people use propaganda to influence how their audience think.
Volkswagen used propaganda to convince audiences they followed the EPA’s Clean Air Act.
Instagrammer Essena O’Neill beautified photos to convince her audience she was something she was not.
A Disney animator convinced audiences their live action Beauty and the Beast poster represented something they didn’t intend.
Propaganda is information. It’s information used to stir publicity for something or even someone’s point of view. Marketing and propaganda come together far more often than we think… whether we like it or not.
Bananas, Sardines, and Sharks is a short film going for seven minutes. It shows a documentary that chronicles how the banana as a berry became a weapon of mass destruction, as well as, overthrowing the democratically elected Guatalmalian socialist government. By using various historical stock images and graphics, the audience would find out the reasons why a banana obtained from the Americas would somehow cost less than an Apple got from down the road. The Most surprising thing is that bananas are grown on plantations miles away from the market, loaded, transported/shipped and then offloaded. However, when they arrive on the supermarket shelves, they are cheaper than the apples that people grow just around them.
As the film continues, there is tie INS with the CIA, 200,000 dead bodies, multinational corporation United Fruit and the Guatemalan President Arbenz Guzman. The friendly looking sailor and the other less friendly looking train operator teamed up in 1899 to create the United Fruit Company. After ten years, the two were able to make bananas available and affordable everywhere. And what was their secret? They took complete control/capitalism. United Fruit owned the fruit plantations, employed the workers, built the railway line, and owned the ports while operating the ships. The short film shows the real cost of capitalism by just using the most simple of the commodities: a banana. Moreover, the illustration on the banana plantation is an image of a country that was overrun by communists. The short story is a story of a Cold War gives a warning that no matter how cheap and convenient something, there is usually a price to pay.
Adam Westbrook the director of this short film, have simplified the hole concept and make it veay easy to understand the network of how big companies accure almost all the resources to sell the product.
In his essay blog Adom says – “I originally wanted to make a video essay about an ordinary everyday object that we take for granted. Can a banana be fascinating? As soon as I started research, I realised there was actually an incredible story behind this innocent looking fruit, involving corporate greed, communism, the CIA and a deadly civil war. This is the most sophisticated video essay I have made so far, both narratively and visually. I use an ironic story structure which convinces the audience of one thing, before proving their assumption false. At the climax, I force them to revisit the first idea, now laden with dark irony. This was the first film which I storyboarded before writing the script, which had a big effect on the outcome: a lot more ideas are.“
However, this was Adam’s essay film which inspired me to get an idea about how I can simplify the propoganda for my essay film. Adam Westbrook – http://www.adamwestbrook.co.uk
- Volkswagen zeigt den E-Golf Touch (CES 2016) : youtube.com/watch?v=LHwmWtgL06A
- How to Cheat – Volkswagen Emissions(Parody) ft. DavidAlvareeezy : youtube.com/watch?v=fplBgaj6-_k
- John Oliver Volkswagen’s EPA mess : youtube.com/watch?v=Cdif-zK4z14
- Clean Air Act of 1970 : youtube.com/watch?v=yk8NN4nNgs4
- Instagram Star Reveals The Truth Behind Her Photos : youtube.com/watch?v=zsxSMdFC20E
- The Matrix (1999) – The Pill scene : youtube.com/watch?v=zQ1_IbFFbzA
- Your baby eat Lemon : youtube.com/watch?v=9iX7HNbn3Ac
- Babies Eating Lemons for the First Time Compilation 2014 : youtube.com/watch?v=9h5mwoTwDBk
- History of the Internet : youtube.com/watch?v=9hIQjrMHTv4
- Yeffeth, G., & Gerrold, D. (2003). Taking the Red Pill. Chichester: Summershade Publishers Ltd
- Propaganda by Edward Bernays (1928) – History Is A Weapon
- Advertising Now. Online by Julius Wiedemann