Sunday, February 28, 2010

The things we think we want to know

"I'm looking back. I'm looking down a road of narrow beginnings and infinite ends. Traveling with them, through time."

In the late 1920's, consumers dubbed the term Fordism. This represented a seed of belief and change. The Ford Motor Company strictly adhered to their industrial design and continuity. Ford said, "The way to make automobiles is to make one automobile like another automobile, to make them all alike, to make them come from the factory all alike, just like one pin is like another when it comes from a pin factory."
Around the time of Fordism, America began to isolate themselves with regard to design, culture, and social conflict. This tremendously effected advertising and product development. As more Americans bought Ford cars, they became integrated into leisure and work activities. Thus the perception of luxury was used by General Motors (GM) to capitalize on the competition's uniformity. They did this by distinguishing their vehicles with colored enamels and new elements of machinery. The changes "rarely required significant engineering changes or substantial capital investments"; in a nutshell, they weren't really better. Through market research GM also learned, this mode of production would increase novelty and consumer appeal.

Here we see the industrial appeal of planned obsolescence, and the strategy of novelty. Originally, there was a societal concern for the consumer, since this industrial revelation was so valuable. It was even called consumer manipulation, but business owners quickly found an exception to the rule. The exception was called "the new 'consumer ethic'". This was the cycle of justified manipulation based on job production. The automobile companies were cautious at first, and they hired consultant industrial designers to mediate aesthetic ideals, commercial success, and social responsibility.

Fast forward 2010: We still see the outmodes and experience the discomfort of knowing that we don't have the newer model car. We still buy into novelty, and the implanted "novelty" of every product.
We feel this because of advertising and ,though some of us are keen enough to see it, we choose to feel this way.
I'll show you what I mean:
Below is an old school GM refrigerator ad outlining the benefits and product attributes. These are all physical advantages to the product. Next to it is a fairly recent ad from LG. Here they give us, not only, a visual for the physical advantages, but also give their perceptual two cents with the couple dancing at the beach.
So, through the evolution of this consumer ethic we are shown to be concerned with the color, its functions, and its ability to change who we are? Advertisers treat our discomfort of wanting with a convincing answer. In my opinion, the only way to preserve a consumer ethic is to stick to physical advantages of products, and leave the perceptions alone.
The perceptual implication of this ad is that, with this fridge, your life will be more glamorous and intimate. Isn't this is just a place to store our food? We want to believe that products will fulfill us and quench our thirst for intimacy, but its such a lie. Jesus knew that. He saw the void and said:
"If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water... Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life." John 4:10-14
So this is with advertising:
When we convey perceptions as truths, we perpetuate truths out of our own invention, for our own intentions and continue the cycle of dissatisfaction. Eerily, people start to look like the automobile: One like another until they're all the same, but selling some through novelty of pick-a-mix fullfillments.
*reference taken from History of Modern Design

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What happend to the melting pot?

By now you have probably heard the controversy surrounding Focus on the Family's thirty second super bowl ad staring heizman trophy winner Tim Tebow; and if you haven't you should watch it for yourself. This middle of the road commercial has spun some pro-choice head shouting anti-abortion. If you can believe it these activists still have whiplash.

USA Today has posted some research results of viewer responses: link

Culturally it's sad that our activists bullying society in to indifference: what happend to the melting pot? This place where we could thrive and mix and share. We burned with passion for our diversity. Now, what? At least we had that.

This is the image today:
A place where icons spend our money, and tell us who to be, as long as it doesn't get too deep we'll live in complacency. Where our exsistance is silly, and our ethics aquitted. And the only thing brough into question is comfort, conveinence, and pleasure. Noise will surround us till we fall to the stuper that rings in our ears, even in silence. So cynically, yes! Let's talk about equality and corporate responsibility as long as it means nothing and doesn't effect our body.

(Revelations 3:15-19)

This is so much the cry of my heart; to see people love hard without burnishing others. After all every faith is a journey to understand more about who we are, not what we are, do, or have; but the greater feeling of purpose that comes from the freedom of believing you are lasting and loved. I don't claim to be the epitomy of the things I believe, but knowing I am part of the journey is enough for me.
So, for me this hits home especially close because the only thing that makes marketing worth doing is to think that I can make a difference with it. That I can share the revelation that we are all on this journey together, but individually; and I hope that you will not ignore it like anti-this-and-thats tell us to.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Let the Redeemed Say So

After some reflection, and soul searching, I've realized that it takes more than an inquisitive study to answer the questions I posed in my last entry. I've learned that it's not so much about the communication, but the way we communicate. After all, I should know this; it is my major. I've been asking myself, what am I really trying to get at, and the bottom line is that social networks started with a noble cause, to unite people, and we have turned it into a selfish and competitive online world. The unity we seek is instinctual; God wired us to seek equality with others, my concern is that we are trying to close the door on God/love's work and throw away the key. When human interaction is forgone, we choose our own way; we choose who we show love to. As a Christian, I'm embarrassed that I do this because that is half the battle: to share the love of God that is living within you with everyone.

I heard a sermon this past weekend that reminded me of this issue. The message was given by a student, and I will paraphrase what he said:

"How many times have you let life changing events, or daily life, stop you from showing love to others? How many times have you opened the door to God's love, but locked it away in a guest bedroom for the people you are fond of?

Making space for love is not enough. We need to usher love in as we would an old friend, and show them around the whole house, not just the rooms that you've tidied and cleaned. This is an issue in those who seek Christ; they think that they have to prepare themselves to be accepted by God, but that's not the case. Love, especially God's love, transforms us and we have to show God all of our lives, and we have to let his love permeate all that we experience."

Scripture says,"Most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be will to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's condemnation." Romans 5:7-9

Therefore, I also believe that we, as beneficiaries of this love, should show this love to others. As we reference scripture, it also says," Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:12

So, what does this all mean concerning communication? It means that whatever you do it must be in love, and wherever God shows you there is a need you must serve it, because there is no guarantee that anyone else will have the same heart for the cause as you do. Whether you know it or not, those who listen to this selfless voice are doing God's will.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Computer Christianity

She walks out of her suburban household and sneezes at the buzz of the neighbor's lawnmower, slides into the four door luxury vehicle she bought online, and zips down the street with the Ipod shouting a play list of her select favorites. Pulling into the gas station, she unzips her wallet and pulls out a debit card. With a flick of the wrist, and a squeeze, she's all filled up and ready to go...
I did this terrible thing yesterday. Yes, in these brief moments of daily grind I was in the midst of transgression, and I hardly noticed it. How many people did I divert in my pursuit of convenience? My neighbor, the radio show hosts, the bank teller (a stretch), and the cashier at the gas station.

Looking back on a spring semester consumer behavior course, I recall my professor talking about how my generation and those after mine will have difficulty in their interpersonal relationships because they rely so heavily on the Internet and computer as methods of communicating. Let me just say that I have nothing against the advancement of technology, but it is important to consider how something as strong and lasting as the evolution of technology will change how we communicate, specifically the gospel.

As I see it, the human element of any demographic is the community fortified around it. When we forgo the human interaction of our daily pursuits we are losing community. While we will grow to be satisfied by the virtual communities we've create online, I can't help but be burdened by the thought that we would loose discernment for God's will by creating our own.
So I pose these questions:
What is Christianity in a world were we create our communities?
What is forgiveness/compassion/understanding if we elude those in need?
How do we discern Gods will while it is so easy and convenient to do our own?
And does Christianity have a real place in this virtual world?
These are the questions I will discuss and aim the answer over the next few weeks.
Please leave your existing thoughts and ideas with me, so that I can include them in my future responses.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Miraculous Model of Moral Marketing

I have begun another semester at the lovely Alfred University, and as I delve ever deeper into the myriad of marketing I find myself engaged in moral controversy rather than curriculum. Recently, in my consumer behavior class, we reflected on the question my teacher posed: What if people only bought what they needed?

This very broad and multifaceted question didn't go very far with my constituents. In reply he received answers like, “The economy would do poorly", or "The economy would do well", or "We wouldn't need marketing". To this my professor replied, “right, so why market when people only by what they need?", thus suggesting that the sole purpose of a marketer is to convince people that they need not only what vital to their survival, but more. My dilemma is that this is as far as our student minds were allowed to travel before we were pushed onto the next subject. If we had looked at what that statement suggested and turned it on its head, we would find that the true purpose of a marketer is to ensure that people have everything they need and more, but what if when we knew the consumer had enough we marketed as advocates for those who do not have all they need. Instead of pushing them to consume excess we would encourage them to convert excess to sustenance. This is the lens through which I see marketing as a Godly practice.

I will never be concerned for my own well being as a marketer, not because I believe in the selfishness of mankind, but because I believe in the tragedy that we will never live in a world were people's most basic needs are met. The required text for the class is The Paradox of Choice, a very good read. There is one particular statement in the book that I have taken to mean something quite the opposite of my professor, and possibly the author. The statement reads:

Existence, at least human existence is defined by the choices people make. If that's true, then what can it mean to suggest, as I have in these first chapters, that we face more choices and more decisions today then ever before?

My professor deciphers this to communicate a concern for the prevalence of diminishing returns in relation to an increased number of options, which is no doubt factual; but I see it as a resounding cry for social responsibility among marketers. If we have the capacity to suggest need, why do we suggest on behalf of those who have. If we suggested on behalf of those who have not, I believe many of our economic issues would be solved. For example, instead of convincing people that they need a cash incentive from our government to go out and buy things to stimulate the economy, we ought to focus in on jobs that deliver satisfaction of our primary needs. I certainly am not an economist, so I’m sure how far I can take this point, or if it sounds idealistic, or sophomoric, so I will move on to another point.

One of the greatest concerns for marketers is being lost in clutter. The claims of mass media are ignored when our need for a product or service is satisfied. We measure our satisfaction through experience, or suggestion. So, if marketers have the skill to cause people experience loss, dissatisfaction, or need, my question is do they have the ability to cause consumers experience the loss, dissatisfaction, or need of others? I believe they can and it would make all the difference in the world if we learned to satisfy a human need instead of a want for perfection, or eternal advancement.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cannes Lions 55th advertising Festival

During my experience at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, I had the privilege of listening to, and learning from, some of the best producers of advertising in the world. As they characterized themselves by stories of redemption, accolades, and innovation it became increasingly clear that these companies were not solely dependent on cash, or cleverness, but passion. These are the great businesses of our time and they are alive. Each technique or creative strategy was implemented to live another day. As life is to an individual, I am convinced that success is to every business - it cannot be formulated.

The most riveting experience I had at the festival was listening to the speakers on activism. They strived to connect with all walks of life, and do so freely and with such care. I am guilty of imagining marketing as a self-righteous, profit driven, sin machine. So these activist messages intrigue me. They are so closely related to the Christian message I hold so dearly. I believe we are meant to breakdown the ugly, corrupt, jaded, and unbelievable moments of our lives to find ourselves, and these people were helping others find themselves. Christianity and advertising alike try to hide these dilemmas in their attitudes, and in ignorance. These activists, however, have become martyrs for causes that I believe the Bible inspires. Among the chaos of sinfulness and injustice of organization they create an escape, reveal truth, and offer love as a peace offering.

The truth is always harder to believe, but we can learn to care. The most successful companies care about their consumers, just as activists do, and their consumers knows that they care by deliberate acknowledgements and involvement. This is where the novelties of interactive media come from. These ideas are important because it is activism of human life and just as the message of activism targets passion, the truth will always transcend the criticism of mankind.

Their greatness is obvious, but their notoriety, wealth, and achievements did not inspire me. It was their passion, the vibrancy of their words that made me wonder how their activism was related to me. I am amazed at how something as complicated as an individual’s passion could be explained through metaphors of business.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cannes Lions 55th advertising Festival 1

Advertising Activism: New Secrets For Going Beyond Propaganda

Presenters - Lewis Blackwell, Markus N. Beeko, Sam Roddick, Ted Royer, Tom Savigar, Jonathan Torgovnik

Briefly described beliefs:

Peoples’ inherent laziness inhibits their inherent goodness.

We all decide the world we live in – it’s up to us, it’s about empowerment.

What does advertising mean to activism?

Activism is a declaration of human rights and ordinary people making change; advertising has the ability to spread awareness, convey urgency, and remind us what we believe in.

Trend Research

Consumer: If you are inspiring me to do something, show me what you are doing.

Inline- Blur of online and offline

Increased multi channel

Increased collaboration

Constant “.com”

Immersion- Engaging all parts of the consumer (No Logos)

Reciprocity- Giving back to future generations.

There is an increased difficulty in the publication of many activist movements. However, media outlets are more likely to support content if subject is link to a cause, content, and resources.



Have worked to create a program that gives school age children a cell phone; this cell phone is programmed to be an element of the learning process. With earned minutes for good grades and scheduling capabilities this cell phone is a revolutionary idea to get kids focus on the classroom.

UNICEF’s largest fundraiser ever! Restaurants gave customers the option of buying tap water for 1 dollar, all across the world, to benefit those who do not have access to clean drinking water.

Listening to the passion and vibrancy of their words, made me wonder how their activism was related to my faith, and how they could similarly stimulate change.

They strive to connect with all walks of life, and so do Christians. So how is it that activists are able to convey their messages so passionately and, although many are passionate, Christians often struggle? How can we show the truth and still be respectful of the often ugly, corrupt, and jaded moments of our lives? These are the things that advertising often tries to hide, and we hide in our attitudes, and because of their unappealing attributes are hardest to accept. We need to show the truth, which in good adverts are always conveyed. The great thing about activist media: it is what it is. They don't need to appeal to an audience; they just have to get their attention: the cause speaks for itself. Much like the selflessness of scripture it is difficult to support in activist media efforts.

There is a point of enlightenment, that activist and Christians both meet (of coarse not the same, but similar) Similar in the fact that their actions reach out in love - their whole live become "love centered" by their activism. This is the diligence, love, and passion I believe the Bible encourages.

So, what do we support and accept/ what is acceptance? Jesus says love above all. When you love it is not about conscience act of acceptance - it is what it is. When you resort to acceptance is when you have established in your mind that your idea are right and their actions are wrong. This is not love, it inhibits love. Then, how do we love in this capacity? Be a voice for them, despite their differences they deserve pure love, and we cannot give that to them, but we can introduce them to it. These causes are not distractions of faith they are signs of it because no matter what you will have God to bring you to the place of wholeness that others have not found.
This is the activism of human life and, just as an activist advert, the truth will always transcend the criticism of mankind.