I made a career jump about four months ago, switching from the publishing world to the “dark side”—advertising. Despite the fact that my paycheck has always been furnished by ad dollars, part of me has felt all along that advertising is the main culprit behind the materialism, financial indiscretion, and covetousness we see so much of in our culture.
I felt good about making the career change though; it was a friend and member of my bishopric that recruited me for a job at his agency, and I’m working with a client whose products and services I genuinely believe in. So while I don’t take much pride in telling people I’m in advertising, at least I can sleep at night. (You lawyers know what I’m talking about, right? Right?)
I’ve been pondering on one of the stories from last week’s Gospel Doctrine lesson (the one Steve blogged about), and it’s made me think even more critically of my newly adopted industry. The lesson dealt with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and their first confrontation with Satan.
As you all know, Satan had an incredible sales pitch for the Fruit. I wonder how much work went into that pitch—did he take it through focus groups first? Did Satan’s team of fallen spirits develop brand strategies and craft brilliant PowerPoint slides to justify those strategies? Did they have Adam and Eve’s demographic profiles all worked out?
I don’t know what kind of background work went into Satan’s big line (what advertisers refer to as a “Call to Action” or CTA, or what missionaries refer to as an “invite”), but as we all know, it was certainly effective.
And advertising hasn’t changed much in the millennia since that initial sales pitch. “Take this (X). It’s good for you! Furthermore, it tastes great, and will make you wise/handsome/cool/popular! Act now and we’ll throw in a second one FREE!!!”
It worked then, and it works now. The key message in almost all advertising is the same as in Satan’s original message in the Garden: Your life would be better if you had (X).
The ads that are targeted at my demographic paint a picture of the lifestyle we could have if only we’d buy the right stuff. These commercials offer a peek at a hidden world of amazing all-night parties, close and comfortable shaves, fast cars, and hot, sexually unsatisfied chicks. Only one of those things actually exists in real life, but it’s easy to believe the lie and chase after it, maxing out your credit cards as you go.
Next time you see one of those commercials, recognize it for what it is: It’s the same lie that has been trotted out since the dawn of humankind.
And now I guess I should get back to work.