How Advertising Is Getting Dystopian

Shopping at the end of the world
5 min readSep 29, 2022


Going through England I get a distinct feeling of dystopia. Everything looks nominally fine buy both scrawled in graffiti and in advertising are signs of the apocalypse. I understand the graffiti, THE END IS NIGH, EAT THE RICH, but what I find most jarring is the advertising.

In 2009 Mark Fisher said “Climate change and the threat of resource-depletion are not being repressed so much as incorporated into advertising and marketing” and now it’s everywhere. Take for example, Dunelm, which I’d never heard of before I needed a new set of lamps and rugs and shit, and which I know a lot about. Dunelm is an ordinary retailer, and its ads are extraordinarily grim.

Energy Crisis? Get A Blanket

Take their latest fall advert, timed with a fuel crisis cause by America’s latest imperial proxy war in Ukraine. This has successfully created a huge market for American arms and natural gas, while cratering the economy of Europe and plunging the people of that West-Asian peninsula into a very expensive chill. People are physically cold. They cannot afford the high heating bills required to ‘fight Putin’ with their shivering toes. Our relative here told us she was seeing how long she could go without turning the gas on, and stocking up on blankets. To me this was dystopian. To Dunelm—which stocks blankets—it is of course a marketing opportunity.

In their advert, a nice inter-racial lesbian couple (☑️☑️☑️) exits a dystopian street called WIT’S END, closes the door and pulls out a £10 throw, and suddenly everything is right with the world. It is, as the lady in the ad says, ‘bonkers’. The inability of people to afford central heating has been devoured to sell them personal coverings. This is what Fisher called “the vast privatization of stress” come to life. His book was called Capitalist Realism, but it increasingly feels like Capitalist Dystopia. The contortions in marketing are increasingly tragic and absurd.

Fuel Crisis? Get A Duvet



Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at, or just email me at