Thursday, December 10, 2009

Creating Need

Once, when I was a lad, I dreamed of being a football player; but after puberty hit and I was assured of achieving only average stature I gave that dream up, and hey who are we kidding, that type of dream takes work and I’m lazy.

I was raised by wolves… wait no I wasn’t. I was raised by an ex-US Marine and I credit him with my smart mouth; between his smart ass replies and my mother’s sense of humour I ended up being pretty creative, funny and mentally quick off the draw (at least I think so, and really that’s what counts).

When I began to think seriously of a career I looked around and saw the fields that were open to me. “Where can I take my skills,” I thought. “I have only to the ability to insult people and get away with it because they think I’m joking. What kind of career would let me do that?”

The answer of course was: Advertising, with a side of marketing.

Sadly this realization didn’t strike me until I was in year 4 of my English Degree. So I finished that off and then promptly went off to do a Masters in Business Administration (specializing in Marketing). With that degree in hand I promptly took my over educated self off into the market.

It was there, in the cold hard marketplace, that I realized something; it’s not just about creativity – it’s also about morals – more importantly a lack thereof. And while I will never be a role model for how anyone should live their lives, I have trouble telling people they need things when it’s obvious to me that they don’t. And so I find myself trained to convince people they need things; but unable to do so unless I believe they need it.

And thus my disgust when listening to the radio this morning and hearing the people of Spence diamonds telling me that buying my wife a diamond will “make me the hero she needs me to be.” And I’m like what you say?

First off, if the only way I will be a hero in my wife’s eyes is to buy her a diamond, then I picked the wrong woman (and while my wife does like diamonds, she’s never, upon being presented with such, said: My hero!” So I picked the right woman). Secondly, stfu Spence Diamonds, my wife might hear you and say – wow! All I have to do is say: “My hero!” and he’ll buy me diamonds! Thirdly, saving my kids from my burning house will make me a hero, buying someone a diamond will only make me poorer the cost of said diamond.

Advertising, at its core, will either make people aware of a product that fits an actual need – such as your average toilet paper commercial (though I stand by my belief that the phrase “Does a bear shit in the woods” is NOT a good basis for a series of toilet paper commercials) or it will seek to create a need. This latter can be found in commercials for such things as new cars, tickets to sports events and virtually any toy you can think of.

Advertising to distinguish your product from others in the same field for things which people need is okay; for instance you can assert the Honda Civic is better than the Toyota Corolla through advertising, that seems fine to me; but the moment you start telling people they need to buy someone a car for Christmas that’s when you cross the line.

No comments: