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The Mega-Marketing Of Depression In Japan Analysis

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In this rapidly globalizing world, the jobs of the advertisers and marketers are to make sure we, the general public, have no control over our wants and desires. It is impossible for them to gain full control, but they do a good job of restricting what freedoms we do have. Big companies want us to believe that we have control by changing cultural norms without us realizing they did. Ethan Watters discusses how marketers plan to redesign Japanese culture for their benefit in his narrative titled “The Mega-Marketing of Depression in Japan.” Watters makes it apparent big companies, such as the drug company GlaxoSmithKline, are reshaping Japanese culture to market a pill that supposedly cures depression. Society is constantly changing and companies…show more content…
It was the marketer’s goal to devise a plan to normalize depression in Japanese society. “The objective was to influence, at the most fundamental level, the Japanese understanding of sadness and depression. In short, they were learning how to market a disease” (Watters 516). Watters repeats the idea of marketing a disease throughout his narrative, even including it in the title. This concept caught my attention and brought up the question, can a company successfully market a disease? If so, we have a lot less control than we may have thought. Watters also says that the marketers were trying to “influence” Japanese understanding. I believe a more appropriate word would be to manipulate. In order to market something with such a bad connotation one would have to manipulate an entire culture. Japan views depression as a severe mental illness and marketers are normalizing it. This in turn affects what the Japanese would perceive as well-being. As what well-being means changes, people will change along with it because we all want to feel comfortable in the safety of our cultural norms. So overall, yes, the company GlaxoSmithKline can market a disease and in doing so they alter culture as well. Without us knowing it, big companies are changing how we want to feel without any suspicion from us, the general…show more content…
The company pretends to give the consumer a choice. Watters demonstrates this in his narrative while discussing how the advertisers will market their product. “Second, it suggested that the choice of taking medication for depression should be as simple and worry-free as buying a cough syrup or antihistamine” (Watters 524). Watter’s use of the word “choice” shows that the marketers want their customers to feel like they have a choice in whether they buy the product or not. This also shows that the consumer still has some autonomy over whether they believe they need the product or not, but it still coaxes them into buying the new drug. By fabricating a situation in which it seems like the buyer has the power we allow big companies to change what well-being means to us. Watters also brings up that the company will market depression by comparing it to a common disease to eliminate social stigma. “Who would think less of someone for having a cold?” (Watters 524). Again, Watter’s uses the company’s ways of advertising to bring up the idea of normalizing depression. Watter’s observation of GlaxoSmithKline’s sneaky ways of advertising their product shows that companies want to give their consumers the illusion that they have control. They also want their customers to have confidence in their choice. They are making it okay to have depression, which is a complete transformation
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