The Art of the Spin

by Art & Survival on

The Art of The Spin…Creating dangerous “Realities”

Media & marketing spin masters keep spinning us to death…

This case study, even after five decades, continues to provide corporations and their political servants a model – a successful template for intense media & marketing campaigns that sell us everything from the war on…to the latest and greatest drug we should be taking for…(far too many to list in each of these categories unfortunately).

As artists we often lend our talents and skills to promoting products and ideas that may cause great harm, whether we are aware of it or not. Because of the skill of our presentation, the often unrelenting message is regarded as fact. Such a strong case is made that most people,” Simply know that it’s true.” Too often these assumptions are deadly. This is one such case, one that continues to threaten us even today. (See accompanying documentation on Fluoride at the end of this article.)

My personal story…

Turning dangerous fictions into “Truth.” Yes, like so many other artists that’s what I was paid to do.

It wasn’t as if I was being dishonest. I believed that what I was promoting through my work was beneficial. I even bought, and felt connected and loyal to the products and ideas I was promoting. As part of an advertising team, I pushed the envelope more than a little to emphasize the message, but that was the whole point. Whether a product or an idea, our job was to sell the message to the prospective buyer as effectively as possible.  As a young man in the field, it all seemed so glamorous, so important.  Upon reflection I would even call it… intoxicating.

In my mid-twenties, I was a relatively successful art studio owner, servicing ad agencies in the Chicago area. Grueling hours and impossible challenges were a way of life as deadline after deadline was met, no matter how impossible or how much lost sleep was required. This was an absolutely essential element in maintaining success in advertising: meeting deadlines, no matter how unreasonable or arbitrary. A common comment in the field was: “There is never time to do it right the first time, but always time to do it over.”

Yet, in spite of all this, it felt so important: “A former street kid, combat marine, makes good.” At that time, this illusion, delusion, still drove my life.

One day in 1959 the word around the Chicago art world was that the ad agency servicing the Proctor & Gamble account was looking for an artist to launch a direct mail campaign targeting dentists to introduce an exciting new product. The mailing was to have a fine art look, perhaps on the abstract side – a series of covers that would characterize the dental field as making breakthroughs in new technologies, offering an appeal to heroic dentists whom they hoped would embrace and push this product…at the same time increasing The dentists revenue stream by introducing another scheduled procedure; the regular topical application of fluoride.

Vested interests were now complicate in moving this myth forward. Of course, at the time I knew nothing of these subtle machinations.

Meanwhile, I    was working on some new painting approaches and decided to enter the competition.

Weeks later, my attention was drawn back to the P&G project upon being informed that I was the chosen artist for the covers. Needless to say, I was blown away by this opportunity. It was great for my reputation and for my growing family’s financial outlook. Of course, finding a hat to fit my increasingly large head would be a problem to be dealt with.

Why am I recalling this incident that occurred over fifty years ago? Because it was the beginning of one of the greatest of many such assaults on human health and on all of life on this planet… and it continues unabated today…because of an unrelenting mass media spin.

assisted in my own small way in the promotion of this deadly industrial waste product: Fluoride. After years of use as a rat poison, fluoride (only slightly more toxic than lead and slightly less toxic than arsenic) was now the active ingredient in CREST TOOTHPASTE.

Today, and since that time, fluoride is pouring into our municipal water systems, thus avoiding the expensive cost of storage in toxic dump sites (where it would be mandated without a commercial application.) A loophole in environmental laws allow for an exemption, (ironically also true of depleted uranium, which was used in weapon and munitions production.)

While fluoride was used as a rat poison, the amount needed for this purpose was far less than the tons on hand required costly disposal, from the aluminum and fertilizer mining.  So industry’s solution to pollution was dilution…dump this toxic material everywhere and say it will stop tooth decay…another big lie regarded as truth. (Please see accompanying documentation.) Turning dangerous fictions into, “Truth:” Yes, that’s what I got paid for…This is one of the many reasons I left advertising.

Today it is clear to me that as artists we can play a critical role in the transformation of our society from a literal death machine – a collection of dysfunctional beliefs – to one of imagination and celebration of our interrelatedness, and the inseparable nature of all life.

Living at this critical time in the human experience, we have the opportunity, no, the responsibility, to cut through the media flack and rediscover who we are at the core…to create our own narrative through an exploration and inquiry that moves beyond programmed existing  beliefs. Flouride_The_Deadly_Legacy

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

susan hoenig September 9, 2011 at 4:29 am

I really liked hearing you on gary null’s show yesterday. Your writings are beautiful… means a lot to me at this time.


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