A technosocial story.
The actors in mobile telephony include those who use as well as those who push.
In the advertising pushing mobile phones in NZ there are two major players. Its not surprising that the service providers will push the product, the contracts generate an ongoing source of income. Seems because of the costs of ongoing services the products can even appear very cheap if not 'free'. And then there are the other persuasive aspects these pushers sell in their advertising.
Vodafone is currently pushing the mobile ph (and contract) as it makes it possible to "take your bestmate with you wherever you go".
The accompanying imagery is a guy about to leave a flat but goes back packing his girlfriend by folding her as if a cardboard construction that folds successively small enough that she/it fits in his pocket.
"Now you can take your world with you when your part of the worlds largest network". His girlfriend then blows him a kiss from the screen of his phone before he puts her back in his pocket.
Or an earlier Vodafone advert had the miniature bestmate popping out of the pocket to share in the experiences to the accompaniment of a song:
Your my friend
and I'll depend
You'll be there forever
dear my friend
these words I penned
for your ears to treasure
oh my friend I'd like to spend
All my time with you together
let me be your second eyes
let me share in your surprize...
voice-over: with vodafone bestmate your together wherever
And the statement;
The opposition also plays on the best friend anywhere anytime concept. Telecom has Kaz, one of their smart toy range- a play on phones as smart toys- saying of her friend, "hi everyone this is totally my best friend Bex, we go everywhere together". And where texting continues while a conversation ensues, and the texting being so available that txting can occur until your paw catches fire.
What the advertising promises is that one need never be alone, your relationship is as far away as your pocket, with you everywhere anytime, available always.
However, it assumes relationships are attractive, going to be positive in the connection and that the connection will be this easy.
What of the need to have the contract, the prepay paid up, be in a region covered by satellites of the service provider, have a ph that is charged, have a best mate who also has a ph charged and paid and in cell ph cover area plus have a memory that's not full if by text, has a mobile ph turned on, as well as being carried with them....And more than this, have a bestmate that's going to be available anywhere anytime, can talk or text, wants to hear, listen and or look and all in a positive way. The ph becomes a part of me and a part of them; always on.
If the service had not already existed, the businesses might have needed to invent it.
Youthline NZ telephone and text counselling- just as well its here, the service providers do well to invest in it.
For the reality is that our friends, mates may not be as available to us or as helpful as the adverts suggest.
Apparently, according to telecom, a cell ph (and a contract with them) provides "everything your household needs to communicate".
Both Telecom and Vodafone go beyond selling product (phones and contracts). They are also attempting to sell dreams. What people might want is not enough, they try to create a demand, and they do this as Mol (2007) states of other advertisements "not with arguments but with seduction".
For example; get this phone, free, on our best ever txter plan....comes with fm radio, mp3 player....roam the web, maps, know where your friends are... what might seduce them into thinking telecom, vodafone will provide is freedom or even love...
"Share the love with a gift from us ( Vodafone NZ, Nov 2008, web banner).
What people want is not enough, a mobile also needs to look great...it appeals to people who want to go anywhere, its fun and its escape, captured.
In real life, relationships include sadness, loneliness and depression and can be distressing. The majority of calls and texts received by counselling agencies such as Youthline are about relationships causing distress.
In advertisements there is seduction and all-time, real-time, availability.
Who can't resist?