Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day

This morning in the space of 20 minutes I heard no less than three commercials from a certain advertiser. Each one was a segment or whole version of their Mother's Day commercials. It goes like this:

A woman is at a "peer" group talking about how she's getting her fix by reprogramming her husband's GPS to take him straight to (the store), wallpapering her kid's rooms with the store's catalog, and finally, rearranging the refrigerator magnets to spell out "Forget breakfast in bed, I want a store gift card" All the while her peer group friends are encouraging her and making appreciative noises.

Prior commercials from same advertisor recently have also included the peer group theme with a woman talking about spring fever and how shopping is a prescription for it.

Advertisers have completely given up on trying to hide what they are doing and just coming out and saying it, aren't they?

What these commercials say to me is that this company:

Wants you to value their product over your family
Wants you to program your children to think that buying things is important
Wants you to continue the idea that a marriage is built on what you buy each other rather than who you are to each other
Wants you to be addicted to their product
Wants you to feel ill if you haven't shopped in a while
Wants you to feel like it is OK to value money over something your family makes for you with their own hands
Wants you to think it's ok to be a princess in a tower for a day at the expense of the happiness of those around you, your own financial situation and the planet's very own health.

People hear these commercials and may think they are funny - and yeah they kind of are. But most people don't realize the damage that these commercials do.

Human beings are very likely to accept something as "the norm" or fact if they hear it from someone who is a peer. In other words, middle aged women (and many who are not) hear these commercials and even though conciously they may think "oh that's funny" or not pay any attention at all, subconciously they are understanding that stuff = happiness. They aren't innocent fun. Because of the way the subconcious works, they are genuinely damaging and ultimately, people will come to the mindset that yeah it's ok to put money ahead of your family. It's ok to have changing decor every few months because otherwise you don't feel like you're keeping up or you got "the itch".

You know who IS aware of this aspect of the human personality? Advertisers. They know that even if you ignore or dismiss that commercial there is a good chance some of it is going to stick with you. They also know that if you hear something enough times you begin to believe it is a fact or acceptable.

So, my Mother's Day message to you:

Moms: please ask for something handmade by your family or at least handmade by someone local. Ask for a donation made to a charity in your name. As for a fun trip, dinner, a night in watching movies.

Families: Make something. Buy something from an artist or craft person. If you're going to give the gift of "stuff" make it something that really has love crafted into it. If you don't want to give stuff, do something fun with her. Bake her a cake. There are a million ways to show someone you love them, and buying stuff is only one of them.

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