COGNISANT

I sell; you sell; he/she/it sells; we sell; you sell; they sell. Whether we realise or not, we all willingly buy and sell. We sell our services, we sell our products, we sell our time, we sell pieces of our minds and we buy. We buy services and products, we buy other persons' time or advice, we buy promises, we buy everything that was, is and will be physically or virtually created in this wonderful world and even beyond it so that some of us go so far as to be willing to buy few acres on the Moon with a very nice view of the Apollo 11 landing site.

In a society where everybody sells and buys, in a world as competitive as the one we live in, it is of course understandable that companies are continually searching for new ways to expand and increase their presence and thus their revenue. Therefore, companies and brands need to be looking for creative opportunities to communicate and advertise their services and/or products, or to present the differences between the services and/or products being advertised and those of competing companies.

However, in so doing, from Kellogg's popular Rice Krispies cereals claiming that the cereal improved a child's immunity with "25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients — Vitamins A, B, C & E” and later sustaining that Mini-Wheats could make you smarter by improving "children's attentiveness, memory and other cognitive functions, to New Balance which stated its shoe could help wearers burn calories claiming to use hidden board technology that was advertised as calorie burners, there are numerous companies that have pushed the truth off the cliff and crossed the line into a deceitful or false claims territory.

Masses of companies like L'Oreal (Olay), Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Lumos Lab, Taco Bell, Eclipse, Splenda, Extenze, Hyundai, KIA, New Balance, Kellogg, Tesco, Under Armour, Dermitage, Apple, Samsung, Virgin Media, Nesquik, Nando’s, Colgate, Jetstar, Volkswagen, Danone (Activia), Lush, Red Bull, Unilever (Dove), Wrigley, Coca-Cola to mention but a few, have been marketed mediocre products, using false and unsubstantiated claims, or exciting claims like "scientifically proven" with "guaranteed results", giving consumers a misleading impression of the effect the products could achieve.

Brands or companies have the responsibility to promote their products truthfully. However, pushing the truth has become such a common practice that Procter & Gamble statement “it is routine practice to use post-production techniques to correct for lighting and other minor photographic deficiencies before publishing the final shots as part of an advertising campaign" turned into an unwritten law in advertising.

In some countries advertising is regulated, and in order to prevent unethical or misleading advertising, there are certain practices and rules that companies should respect, codes such as Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) in the UK requiring that “advertisers hold evidence to prove the claims that they make before they are published or aired” and authorities such Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) (having its “mission to make every UK ad a responsible ad”) which responds to consumer and business concerns and complaints and takes action to ban ads that are misleading, harmful, offensive or irresponsible.

From my perspective, it is not so important how one (company or brand) acts but rather how we, as a beneficiary of their services or as consumers of their products, as people react seeing or observing something that is, from our perspective, out of integrity.

I mentioned the idea of acting with integrity. While talking about integrity, I am not speaking here about the moralistic sound that the idea of integrity might encompass, since in this sense integrity may very well vary in space and time and the morals of the different areas or countries in our society can be very different sometimes even completely contradictory, hence there is no unity in having the exact same understanding for everyone. Nor am I talking here of the social integrity or order that is based upon the integrity of the individuals forming that particular group or society.

What I do mean while talking about integrity is the understanding that we are all one, one integrated whole, that we are consciousness expressing ourselves as a physical being, that everything that we experience as a physical reality exists within us, and is one thing with us; is an expression of us, understanding the great connection while living in flesh with the natural environment, understanding the interrelated nature of everything, the interrelationship of things in reality.

Acting with integrity expresses itself as being mindful that everything is an expression of us; that everything is an extension of us; that everything is a reflection from us, and to us. Acting with integrity presupposes the fundamental understanding that our reality is an integrated whole, and we are treating everything with the same respect as we would demand ourselves.

Now, companies are not just some abstract notions or just some paper certificates. Companies are made of people, companies are larger or smaller clusters of people who all contribute, to a greater or lesser extent, towards achieving a certain common goal for that particular cluster. Regardless of the size of a company, each has its own human management, which to the best of its abilities defines the goals and sets the guidelines for achieving those goals.

In creating an advertisement for a certain product or service, within each company, whether they use external services or "in house" creative teams, there are certain people who actually create the ad and some who approve it. The final ad is a direct result of the skills of the team or teams of creators, but what it always reflects is the set of beliefs of the team that requested and approved the ad, of the management of the respective company.

Simply put, while creating unethical or misleading adverts a company is fundamentally trying to push or to “force” the customer to buy the said product. Now, the idea again of someone who acts outside of their integrity and forces something on someone else is someone who is expressing powerlessness. They do not believe they can create the reality they desire without involving the change in other people, without forcing that change in other people. Perhaps, they do not understand that the only thing they have to do is change themselves to see a change in the reality in which they exist.

Any individual (company) who has to force a point of view on someone else clearly does not believe in the power of that particular point of view. Else, they would not have to force anything. If something, if a product, if a service, if a point of view is that powerful and is that positive, one would not need to convince anyone to of it.

When people are convinced that the self is not worthy, for whatever reasons or belief they may hold, then instead of enjoying in the use of their abilities, exploring the physical and mental environments, they begin to contract their abilities, to overcontrol their environments.

Misleading or forcing or any similar so called negative action is that which assumes that one is not so powerful and therefore that the only way one can create what one desire is to forcefully or misleadingly dominate and control the reality around him, without realising that he is creating the reality anyway around him and that he is already under his control.

Therefore, any time we see an individual in a situation expressing lack of integrity, understanding and realising that it is in fact a lack of power they are expressing, a belief that tells them they are powerless, we should love them, we should love them unconditionally. At the same time, we should be consciously aware that the unsatisfactory belief that one holds is only an idea about reality and not an absolute aspect of reality itself.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that each and every one of us has the right to his or her opinion. Each and every one of us has the right to take any action he or she feels to. Each person chooses for himself the individual patterns within which he will create his personal reality. We can make a statement or we can take an action with integrity, as mentioned we have the legal framework that allows us to take such actions (e.g. above mentioned Committees of Advertising Practice)

However, no matter what action we take or not, being aware that not taking action is an action per se, we should not judge, we should not blame. Under no circumstances can judgment mean integrity. As an opposite to integrity and integration, judgement stands for the separation of the self who perceives, and therefore judges and values, from the object or action which is perceived and evaluated.



 

NOTES

The series comprises 30 photographs

Screen Printed on Somerset Printmaking Paper

Black Velvet · 280 gsm · 100% Cotton, Acid-Free

Mount: Natural White

Print Size: 56 W x 76 H cm

Mount Size: 71 W x 86 H cm

Limited Edition of 12