08 February 2008

Luxury advertising: The envy of glamour

"The state of being envied is what constitutes glamour. And [advertising] is the process of manufacturing glamour. … [advertising] is always about the future buyer. It offers him an image of himself made glamorous by the product or opportunity it is trying to sell. The image then makes him envious of himself as he might be. Yet what makes this self-which-he-might-be enviable? The envy of other. [Advertising] is about social relations, not objects. Its promise is not of pleasure, but of happiness: happiness as judged from the outside by others. The happiness of being envied is glamour. … Being envied is a solitary form of reassurance. It depends precisely upon not sharing your experience with those who envy you. You are observed with interest but you do not observe with interest - if you do, you will become less enviable."
An observation from John Berger's (1972, p. 131) book Ways of Seeing (London: BBC & Penguin Books).

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