In proud association....adverts, spending money and New Statesman

 "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need".

Tyler Durden, Fight Club

The older I get, the less resilient I become to the powers of marketing. Although, as a principled lefty, I try as much as possible to resist the consumer urges that get projected into my psyche by advertising companies and PR agencies, I seem to be getting progressively worse at defending myself. It feels a bit like when you've been going out with a girl for a really long time and it just becomes easier to agree whenever she says something you've done is typical, or asks you to spend more time with her stupid friends; sometimes it's just seems easier to lose a bit of self respect and do what you're told for the sake of peaceful life. It doesn't mean that she's won the argument, but acheives victory through waging a war of attrition. In this way, it increasingly feels like its more effort resisting unnecessary purchases than it is to deal with mounting debt and a very cluttered bedroom.

But while I'm definitely getting more suggestible to spending, it also seems like the people in charge of adverts and branding are getting more and more adept at their jobs. Whenever you watch a video from a few years ago and dont fast forward the adverts, they look really tacky and simplistic. Everybody remembers that silly Shake and Vac advert, but I suspect that particular culprit probably looked pretty daft even then. But if you think back ten years to the ad where the woman came out of the space capsule wearing Levis (pretty high up her stomach, if my rather fond memories of girls' waist bands from the mid-nineties serve me correctly), the one with the misleadingly good Babylon Zoo sample and out of proportion special effects budget, you'll remember being quite impressed at the time. I suspect if we watched it now it would just look rubbish and ineffectual. This isn't just because girls have (thankfully) stopped sporting trousers that start at their armpits, but because the people who get us to spend money have developed far more sophisticated and diverse methods of convincing us to part with our cash.

So to extend my dodgy analogy, maybe after a long period in a relationship not only do you become lazier about sticking up for yourself, but your girlfriend develops much cleverer and affective methods of getting you to do stuff. I once made the mistake of telling my girlfriend at the time that when I was a kid, I knew I was in real trouble when my parents said 'We're not angry, were disappointed.' She never raised her voice to me again, but after a few months she had expressed more disappointment with my general behaviour than Glen Hoddle inspired in three years as England manager, and I was far more obedient as a result.

Even during my long years as a teenager and young adult when I was much more successful at avoiding the pressures of advertising, I think with the advantage of posterity I need to give the people who make them more credit. While I might have credited myself at the time with possessing sufficient moral resilience to consumer conformity, it's much more likely that as a penniless youngster the advertising companies had no reason whatsoever to try and motivate me to part with my non-existent cash, so they didn't bother.

As a kid I remember they'd pack breaks in the middle of Dangermouse with adverts for remote control cars and small plastic machine guns and Lego spaceships. This was worth it because although I was without money then too, I was not without influence. As soon as things on the box degenerated from decent cartoons to Blue Peter (or even worse, the Lowdown) I'd run through to the kitchen and tell my mum in no uncertain terms that unless I got an Etch a Sketch come December I'd set fire to the younger kids at Sunday School. Kids are very good at getting what they want; a very profitable fact for people who make toys.

But by the time you have the option to opt out of the way the TV tells you to live your life, the omnipotent small-screened overlord sitting in the corner of your front room probably isn't interested in you anyway. Whether you go through a phase of buying t-shirts at charity shops and watching Fight Club twice a month or not, as long as your making the transition from a financially influential child to easily influenced, salaried adult, the men and women who try and make us buy stuff couldn't care less that you've disappeared from their radars.

I guess part of the reason that all these flat screen TVs and luggage sets and camera phones are starting to appeal more now is that I'm almost there. Alright, I'm still a student, but I've tasted life as a young professional through my friends lifestyles and my occasionally regular employment and, frankly, I liked what I sampled.

I often tell people that I don't want to be rich, just affluent enough not have to worry about where the money for bills is going to come from. What I actually mean is affluent enough not only to not to have to worry about them cutting off the electricity bill, but also any resulting inability to use the scores of unnecessary household gadgets that rely on it. Life would be difficult enough without being able to switch on the lights, but without getting my fix of nutrients through lazily putting every type of vegetable available through my juicer, I'd probably just kill myself.

It seems that adverts are increasingly tailor-made to appeal to particular social groups. Whilst its really, really easy to scoff at campaigns aimed at other types of people, its all to easy to be sucked in yourself.

Anything aimed at girls our age is either spell-bindingly cringe making or downright hilarious. How can women not be mortally offended that these companies try to make out that the only two states of mind that young women can experience are a) really worrying about their figure (and therefore buying diet related products) or b) revelling in really not worrying about it (and therefore buying chocolate)?

It's so easy for me to look at all the tat they try and flog to girls related to these two state of minds and chose not to conform to it, because, of course, the advertising men couldn't care less whether I can see through their agenda or not. However curly my hair whenever I occasionally grow it out, theyre not reliant on my money to keep hair straightening product manufacturers in business.

But of course the same works the other way round. My favourite advert of all time and, I'm willing to admit, probably a contributing factor as to why I drink the black stuff, is that one with the horses and waves for Guinness. The drama, the power of the imagery, the way it was shot, the concept, the effects, the haunting simplicity of Leftfields thumping bass line. I always thought it was a work of art, and I know I'm not alone, as its frequently cited as the most popular of all time.

But not my mum. Despite drinking stout while she was pregnant with me (which is probably the other reason I have a quite a taste for it), Guinness is clearly not aimed at middle aged women. To my mum, the advert was some stupid horses in the stupid sea, with some stupid bloke talking absolute rubbish (something about a fat drummer if I remember rightly) over a noise that barely resembled music.

As a strict G 'n' T girl, my mum couldn't give a monkeys about a product, or its marketing, that was still to some degree trying to get over stouts association old, Irish rural types and adverts with pretty ginger girls riding horses bareback through council estates by appealing to the self-declared intellectuals of young middle class England, and with them their weighty purses. In reflection, she was probably right. What's a fat drummer and some surfers got to do with getting drunk? Nothing, thats what. But having written those last three paragraphs I really, really fancy a pint of Guinness...

None of us are immune, it seems. Responding to the plethora of compelling messages that I get hit round the head with every time I open my eyes, I've spent a fortune with no real improvement to the quality of my life. I don't need to receive irreverent pictures from my flatmate on my phone but it still seems like not having a camera phone means you're a relic of a bygone era. I don't need to have a reclining leather armchair with matching footstool, but I have both. I don't need more than 4,000 songs available at one soft stroke of my forefinger whenever I leave the house, but my 15 gigabyte I-pod is starting to make me feel I might as well be carting round a gramophone. I never use my pestle and mortar, George Forman, video sender or gym subscription but would feel defectively primitive without any of them. I've paid up, spend an afternoon uploading all my photos onto a website but forgotten to tell anyone the address. I own four different types of razor blade and two sets of clippers. And for some reason, no matter how easy it is to smile at the shopkeeper, put my card in that slot and tap out my pin number whenever my subconcious yearning is awakened by a stroll round the shopping centre, by the time I get home I'm not really any happier, just that little bit poorer.

So that's it. I've had enough. Although I'm sure I'll still chose to turn the TV off at the end of the ad breaks rather than the beginning, I'm no longer willing to let them determine my life.

As Tyler, the acknowledged moral guru for men my age says, "The things you own end up owning you" and I'm not going to let it happen. I hereby publicly resolve to live a life free from materialism from now on. No more purchasing. No more gadgets. No more wasting money. I will be the Taoist Monk of Clapham Old Town.

But as Tyler also says "Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken". And there's no way in hell I'm giving up my juicer.

Anyone fancy A Guinness?

Damn you, fat drum boy.

Anway, the reason I started this particular blog was actually because I bought New Statesman today. I stopped buying it years ago when I came to the conclusion that it was a barely concealed right-wing social democratic, Labour-apologetic, anti-working class excuse for a publication, and therefore a terrible waste of money.

But this month they've relaunched it, you see, with a glossy new layout and more celebrity columnists. 'Might as well try it', I thought. You never know, maybe they'll have improved their analysis too. Plus my journalistic ambitions means I now spend a fortune on newspaper and magazines without feeling guilty about it at all: it is, after all, research (although I'm not sure Lingerie Buyer qualifies).

Anyway, in its beautifully remarketed new format the first page is an advert for BP, the letter of the week denounces Chavez, and its editorial begins "It might seem strange, perverse even, to talk about the resurgence of radical politics at a time when the ruling party of the centre left is on the slide." Eh? It's featured article is with the new hero of the centre left, David Cameron'

Marketing, eh? Will I never learn?