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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Attention advertising : the cultural economy of voluntary watching and involuntary looking Shortt, Jennifer


This thesis investigates the visual event of consuming advertisements as a form of labour. Using Heller’s "attention theory of value", the thesis argues that among the most valuable forms of labour in today’s capitalist society is the productive value of human attention. The attention of viewers is interpellated by advertisements in two ways: watching and looking. To illustrate how viewers consume advertisements by watching, a case study focused on product promotion on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" is presented. In order to interpellate viewers’ attention, companies use product promotions such as "free gifts" within shows in order to avoid possibly losing their attention in commercials. Looking as labour is illustrated via a case study of advertisements in three different Vancouver restaurant restrooms: 99 Cham, Moxie’s Classic Grill and TGI Friday’s. The placement of advertisements in restrooms is also strategic, in that viewers’ attention is captured by the simple act of looking.

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