in a past life, i was a marketing guru.
ok, guru is a bit too dramatic (surprise, surprise). in fact, i worked as a “Public Relations Officer” for a dental practice, developing their marketing strategy, promotional pieces and networked mcgee. it was a new position to this office so the expectations weren’t as defined, which was good since i had no marketing background and was teaching myself as i went along.
there was a lot of beauty that came from that experience, but also a lot of ugliness. marketing is simply the “packaging” a product comes in. it derives from a time when society literally went to market to purchase their goods. today, that “packaging” can look like a myriad of things: images of beautiful, sexy people smoking cigarettes, or children running free in a field of daisies, wearing Gap sweaters.
this is where the shady side comes in. you see, marketing is necessary to sell a product and understanding how that works has really helped me in aiding small, independent business owners. but the line quickly approaches where you are just packaging something to look like what people want and abandoning the truth.
i was walking by the Slippery Noodle here in Indy after a morning jog. a poster hung on the fence, featuring a young man, laughing and surrounded by beautiful people. it read, and i’m paraphrasing, To get chicks, you must have confidence, then had a picture of the vodka they were selling. Ie. drink our vodka and get, not only self-confidence, but all the chicks you want. you can spin anything to look good.
the key to marketing, in this manner anyway, is knowing what the hot buttons are in the general public–self-image, confidence, relationships, etc–and then keeping your thumb on them at all times. if you just relate your product to attaining any of the above, you can sell just about anything.
i think this points to a deeper condition in us, though. not just that we want to attain those things, but that somewhere within us, we still hope. we see a picture of a pristine meadow where the sun is shining, and long so much for a world that looks like that. we long to know the answer, the path that will take us back to a place of unbrokenness, where we can not only be confident, but can know ourselves. can live out of our true selves. the self we sense is there but don’t really know how to be bold enough to express. we want to step into the picture and never look back.
some of the greatest creative and artistic minds are designing these ads and i just wonder…what would it look like if we reversed the system and used marketing, not to bind people to consumerism and false answers, but to set people free?