So, here’s my rant for the day … What I’ve realized about marketing is that companies that want to sell you something always create an image of how you should be, what you should look like, what makes you valuable as a person (and the companies are the ones defining ‘valuable’). I’m always fascinated by the cycle of promotions every year. Prior to the Christmas holiday season, we are bombarded with internet ads, and television and radio commercials advertising toys, clothing, jewellery, decorations, food; and the list goes on and on. The subliminal (and sometimes not-so-subliminal) messages are: if you’re a good host or hostess, you’ll serve this food and decorate your home in this manner; if you’re a good spouse, you’ll buy your partner this jewellery; if you’re a good friend, you’ll give only this brand of card; if you’re a good parent, you’ll buy your kids this toy or electronic gadget; you have to look fabulous when you go out with friends and family, so you have to wear this brand of clothing; to show you truly value your family, you will only take them to this specific restaurant; if you really love her, you’ll buy her this brand of chocolates. Indulge, indulge, indulge!
Then the holidays pass, and the message changes. You ate too much over the holidays, and wow, now you’re overweight! You really need to purchase a gym membership! You need to try this diet shake because you overindulged so much at all the parties. You should feel really guilty for everything you consumed and did over the holidays! How dare you? Guilt, guilt, guilt! Now is your time to feel better about the choices you made then, and the only way to do that is by buying even more products – this electronic gadget will help you lose weight; this cream will get rid of that nasty cellulite; this undergarment will hide all those bumps and lumps because we wouldn’t want your natural body to show through your clothing. See this girl? Yes, we know we airbrushed the photo, but we want to remind you that you don’t look like this girl. Yes, we realize that she doesn’t look like that either, but you’re not supposed to think about that. You should only think about looking like this girl, and the only way you can achieve that is if you buy this brand of makeup, or if you stop eating real food, and eat only this diet breakfast bar instead. See this airbrushed photo of an athletic man? Yes, you too can look like him if you drink this protein shake or take this fat-burning pill.
Just as we start to feel better about our feelings of guilt, the next marketing phase will kick in reminding us that it’s time to indulge again. If you’re a good partner, you really need to buy jewellery and chocolates and romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day. Then after we indulge in treats over Valentine’s Day, we are bombarded again with the guilt and the ‘you’re not worthy’ messages. We are reminded again that swimsuit season is coming and we really should go out and get our fake tans, our manicures and pedicures, and start dieting again to look good in that swimsuit. And remember, the only way to attract somebody and gain companionship is to drive this particular convertible.
I realize that this is the world we live in, that companies need to find some way to sell their products, that we all ‘need’ some products to a certain extent, and we all enjoy having treats every now and then, but I just get tired of the indulge/guilt cycle that marketers use to manipulate people. It has a huge impact, especially on children’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth; and I get annoyed that I fall prey to it myself sometimes too. We’re all aware that it’s marketing, but the volume of ads affects us, whether we like it or not. It’s nice to show your family members and friends that you care, but it doesn’t always come from a store. Hell, the most romantic thing for me is when someone cleans the snow and ice off my car after a bad storm. Yes, you can be fit and healthy and look great, but it doesn’t depend on a product. It’s you and your state of mind that make the difference! Okay, my long, rambling rant is over; thanks for reading! ☺