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  • Writer's pictureJess Ponce III

Brand Deception

Five ways to be a more informed media consumer

We are savvier than ever when it comes to personality brands. Many of us know immediately if someone is being authentic or merely saying what he or she thinks an audience wants to hear. We quickly assess whether this person is the real deal or a fake. But every now and then we are all deceived in ways we didn’t expect.

Take a look at Harvey Weinstein. He’s a classic Hollywood example. Many of us embraced him as a Hollywood icon. We bought what he and the entertainment behemoth sold us. We were duped.

Weinstein is just one example that brand deception is alive and well. There are other executives, celebrities, and politicians who exploit their privilege and position to mask a myriad of attributes many of us would find appalling, from racism and sexism to homophobia and xenophobia. Who they present themselves to be is not the person they are.

To combat this brand deception, here are five tips to being a more informed media consumer.

1. Awareness

When we look at personality brands as businesses, we better understand that we are really being sold a product. To some this human product, or image, is a trusted source, authority, or friend. Yet, on what criteria are we basing our purchase? Often it is likability and we blindly buy into what they’re selling. Being aware of what the product truly is, empowers us.

2. Research

Many of us do extensive research when it comes to purchasing big-ticket items like cars, computers, and homes. This research helps us prioritize our needs. It also helps weed out those product attributes we do not find acceptable. What if we did the same with personality brands? Too often our trust is based on a feeling.

3. Responsibility

It’s really easy to blame big corporations for what we buy; that distances our responsibility, but the bottom line is we have a choice. We are media consumers. The reality is these organizations work for us. Our choices pay their bills. As consumers we can dictate what is shown, the quality of the product, and how it is presented. We need to own that power.

4. Perspective

Every day when we engage in social media, we are generating media content. It is this content that keeps our social media channels in business; whether it is through direct advertising or demographic profiling to their sponsors. We have become media experts, but often we forget that we are both generating content and buying it.

5. Advocacy

There are measures being taken by the corporate media industry to get rid of deceptive personality brands. There are also many social advocates who are working to realign corporate structures. They are making efforts to educate and inspire younger audiences on what is and isn’t acceptable from these brands and bringing awareness to personal responsibility.

As informed media consumers we combat brand deception not only for ourselves, but for other consumers. We also create room for authentic brands to be seen and heard that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.


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