Words: Kartrionae Alfantica-Ossai May 2020

Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke, there has been much talk about the virus signaling the dawn of a new era from conspiracy theories between China and the United States to the fall of superpowers perpetuated by the end of Capitalism. One thing we have all accepted is for certain- ‘things will never be the same again’.

Dubbed as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ by the World Economic Forum and by some as simply the ‘First Digital Revolution’ the new wave seems to be anti-industrialization in favour of digitisation signaling alarm bells for the possible end to Capitalism.

The market has changed as we begin to see ‘individualism replace collectivism’ and despite the recent black death, there have been many slow changes that have precipitated the end of Capitalism. As The Guardian pointed out back in 2015:

  1. The growth of information technology and automation with the latter having reduced the need for work and the former having provided excess information in the market that corrodes markets ability to form correct pricing structures. The Guardian speculates that while markets are based on scarcity there is an abundance of information and to correct this, the system often adopts a ‘defense mechanism’ in the form of monopolies.
  • The disruption of the ‘demand and supply’ chain as well as job cuts in large economies due to the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced consumerism significantly forcing people to survive only on necessary commodities for what seems to be the long run.

Amongst many other reasons pointing out to the demise of Capitalism, some schools of thought are thrilled by this possibility with hopes of “social ownership and the democratization of economic power” as cited by ‘Forbes’ in a March article this year. Purpoter’s of  this notion seem to favour the idea of equal societies, and “the fall of the mighty rich”. They also believe that events such as the recent pandemic have shown governments the ability to regulate economies and level disparities between the rich and poor.

In as much as it sounds sweet to the social justice advocates’ ear and many of us on the ‘receiving end’, it leaves us advertisers wondering: ‘If Capitalism is indeed the beast, we are definitely the fuel behind the beast’. As Philip Kotler pointed out in The Marketing Journal “Marketing is the enabler of Capitalism. It is the Engine of Capitalism. Without marketing, capitalism would collapse.” He further explains that for Capitalism to succeed there must be enough buyers for all the goods and services that it produces. Marketing and therefore advertising as an arm of it, gets people to want and buy these goods. If Capitalism were to fall, how else apart from digital marketing, would advertisers have to survive?