Ok, I cannot say exactly here where I am right now, however he was in Istanbul for two conferences. I could not listen to him or watch him live, but I followed his actions and interviews from the media. Also, the reflections after him were interesting. There were many comments about his talks and many of them were about the current political situation of Turkey and his thoughts on hot topics of Turkey.
He gave two speeches, one of them was in a business-style meeting called “Intercontinental Advertising Cup” promoting local creativity in the course of advertisement competition. It has been organized regularly since 2007 and as the name implies it is basically based on adveritising and marketing. Under the name of the creativity the advertising (bio-)technology is discussed by the agencies and businesses. The second speech was at Mimar Sinan University and it is stated that the hall was full of people in addition to two other halls with screens reflecting his speech.
Zizek mentioned in one of his interviews before he came that they had invited him for a speech and all the costs were compensated by the CUP organization. He added why should he accept it so that he can also talk in the university. Furthermore, he said that he would attack to the advertisers in this speech.
In the web site of the meeting, in the end of his introduction it is written
“The conference will simply try to develop the consequences of such a negative approach for creative thinking in general and, in particular, for advertising.” (http://www.thecupawards.com/program/the-power-of-negative-thinking/)
What strikes me much was his engagement with initiatives such as this advertising competition. Especially, this emphasis on “in particular, for advertising” makes me think. It is written in the newspapers that he suggested advertisers not to be direct and to play on fantasies to be indirect (Something that advertisers and marketing people would not know!!). An interesting way of attacking to the advertisers. Obviously, he talked about capitalism and its problems however is it really a good place to talk about these things? Should it be like that? Should such a critical oriented philosopher admit the invitation of an advertising competition and tell them about how should the ads be? On the other hand, this was a good opportunity for the ones who would not have any chance to listen to Zizek. Should they thank to the CUP organization.
This may be his style, using such initiatives to also reach to other audiences as in the universities. However, such an engagement and such a justification of using business money to speak to others is a huge question mark for me. Perhaps, this is the best example of the ideology of cynicism. Acting in the field of capitalists but talking about negativity or talking about critical philosophy whilst adorning the speech with popular culture. He is a very succesful person and a good philospher but then there comes the main question how should it be? How critical oriented people manage their relationship with such organizations? Should they use this as an opportunity to show off about the critical ideas, or should they look for alternative ways of reaching other audiences. I do not think that Zizek is as naive as thinking that all these people in the competition would be impressed by his ideas and would think about the unfairness of the current economic policies or implications. Probably they will use such critical and philosophical ideas to adorn their advertisements.
There is also another important point considering the advertising agencies in Turkey. After the army intervention in Turkey in 1980 many left-wing oriented people struggled to survive and many of them founded advertising agencies or worked for them. They had worked on left propoganda formerly and they knew how to impress people with slogans and with attractive symbols. In the agencies (during the 1980s and especially during the 1990s) they used the same tools but for different aims. An interesting intersection with the Zizek’s visit that came to my mind.