Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dow Chemical Company

While writing my journal on the uses of language and its ability to illuminate or obscure meaning, I recalled a Dow Chemical Company commercial I saw this summer. Observe the use of sight and sound perception, as well as the language they use. Please click the link below before continuing to read this post.

Watched it? Good. Dow Chemical Company was one of seven major U.S. chemical companies supplying Agent Orange to the military for use in Vietnam during the 60's. To this day, veterans and Vietnamese suffer from the long-lasting implications of exposure to this herbicide. If you want evidence of this, Google Images search 'Agent Orange'.

So, in response to what they saw as utter hypocrisy on Dow's part, put out their own commercial and posted on YouTube:

Just thought I'd share an interesting example of the power of language in conjunction with sense perception.


klneff said...

These were definitely very interesting and I actually went on to watch more videos on "Agent Orange," and found some better than others. Over-all with all the films in mind, it's amazing how differently a situation can be portrayed. It's scary to think that one cannot simply believe something as they first see it, because chances are there are two very different sides...

Specifically in this case as they were both videos, images really pulled me over as well. In the first video for Dow the images were extremely unthreatening and gave no reason to suspect the company could be responsible for such horrible incidents. Another video against the company however, used a different genre of images and I found myself looking at photographs of horrible deformed and hindered children and adults. Between the two it's hard to choose which to believe--they are both so extreme, and it makes me wonder how hard is it to really come by a happy medium in anything today?

JuliaC. said...

I find it interesting that the Dow commercial isn't even really advertising anything. They're not selling a specific product, they're just trying to make people associate their company with all these wonderful peaceful images. It's like those commercials for prescriptions where they don't even tell you what the drug is for. It's just another example of how corporations are trying to manipulate our perception of them through our senses and through language, even if it's not for a specific reason.

Mr. Pseudonym said...

Harassing the DOW chemical company for creating a chemical is like harassing Boeing for building the Enola Gay which dropped little boy.
Yes, DOW may have contributed to the harmful treatment of Vietnam Veterans but I see it as more of a fault of the government itself than of the company. I would just as soon start a witch hunt against them as Boeing for allowing the dropping of the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima by building B-29 bombers.

Charlie Vest said...

No one's suggesting a witch hunt, though, yes, Boeing made bombers and Mitsubishi (a modern-day electronics and motor company) made Japanese A6M Zeros during WWII. All I'm saying is that their commercial assembles a series of images, music clips, and phrases that really don't have anything to do with the chemical company's product, yet make us feel benevolent towards Dow. These elements of advertising, to me, attempt to hide the pervasive image of the 'evil chemical company' that became popularized in the 60's. Whether the label is true or not, they're using every advertising technique they can to break it, and I think it's useful to observe what those techniques are and how they can be turned around into satire.