Sprint and the Structure of Society: Images of Efficiency, Opportunity, and Power
A current advertisement in the New York Times featuring a struggling company, intent on persuading the audience that Sprint is the best company in the technological sphere of business, shows the lengths that a company will go to sell products to an accepting society. Many ads show the mirror of society and its wants, needs, and desires, but the Sprint ad is especially interesting as the mirror of society in the way that technology has changed people, products, and the landscape of what Americans accept as the norm. The ad contains many interesting underlying themes, such as power, a sense of urgency, speed, and efficiency in everyday life, and opportunity, such as living the “American Dream”. But Sprint does not dismiss the obvious desirable traits in its products, such as the affordability and simplicity of them, implying that in making a small investment in a product this will make life easier. There are other more subtle, but intriguing aspects of this ad, as well. The Blackberry Curve is marketed as sleek, sexy, and even the name itself denotes a latent sexual tone to it. Similarly, the black backdrop of the ad with the vibrant brightness of the text denotes a sense of one stepping out of the dark and into the light, so to speak. With all these obvious and not so obvious components of this ad, we can view society by the lens that the Sprint advertising executes view their audience.
Society today is unique in history, as a society that relies on more technological means to communicate and work with others. Face to face communication is viewed by many to be too time consuming and uncomfortable while text messaging and e-mail is more comfortably used and less time consuming. Sociologists of the past have commented on the state of cold and uncaring bureaucracies and technology has made bureaucracy even more complicated, intricate, and complex. While more people are able to work more efficiency outside of an office by telecommuting with technology provided by companies like Sprint, those still in an office setting are subject to a bureaucratic and technological way of dealing with others, making people seem more like machines themselves. Emotion is replaced by mechanical efficiency and interactions are carefully scripted in e-mails and texts. People are becoming further alienated from one another and the ad shows life without their product as black and dreary and the technology itself as a bright light. It should be noted that normal human interactions that involve lively discussions and traditional communication really is just what lies in the black shadows of technology and in the recesses of the past in that black backdrop of the Sprint ad.
In American history there has always been the idea of the “American Dream”, an idea that implied in the ad. The idea that regular citizens can have the same technology available to them as big businessmen helps to foster this idea. As well, Sprint attempts to use the idea of improvement to show that their products are improving to create an atmosphere that speaks to all people to improve, to have better products and to be better people. While Sprint is retooling, people are expected to retool their lives to keep up with others. Society reflects this idea that one should always be busy, engaged in technological invention, and constantly pursuing their lives to make them better. The irony of this, is that this very technology that society is supposed to embrace is used to outsource jobs, replace workers that are no longer needed, and as mentioned before, to turn people into the machines that they use. Society may be said to be more efficient, but it is colder, less personable, and very harsh to victims of job loss and/or downsizing, because technology has been the catalyst for cheap work. Those, who do not realize the “American Dream” are looked at as lazy in a world that will not tolerate what is viewed as an inability to keep up.
The Sprint ad uses an overall tone of power and success, sex and simplicity. With Sprint you can have it all, the ad seems to say. This feeds into the societal greed that is permeated by Capitalism. In this manner products are valued over people and those people use products to fill up the void in their life that is left from the alienation created by technology. We are judged by what we own and not the ideas we have. Though Sprint makes it seem as if their are limitless possibilities with its products, in contemporary society, limits are usually only placed on money and buying power. Though it is easy to confuse buying power with actual power, all advertisements like to use this ruse to convince consumers that buying is power and an investment into their technological future, so to not be left behind.
In conclusion, the Sprint ad featured in the New York Times tells a great deal about society and the audience, who would see these types of ads. Americans are driven consumers, driven by time, efficiency, and technology. Individuals in society are growing increasingly alienated from one another by this efficient technology, although the Sprint ad shows the opposite, the light out of darkness effect. Many people fear being left behind in an increasing digital age and this fear is shown by their consumer behavior. In the place of fear is a sense of power that ads like Sprint provide, an idea that everyone can have the same technology of those, who have achieved the “American Dream”. This power translates into buying power and benefits companies like Sprint very well.