With Christmas quickly approaching (I saw my first Christmas commercial on September 17th!!), there will be an onslaught of product advertisements coming for you. Marching one after another through your television, cell phone, social media accounts, radio, and wherever else they can ooze through into your mind. It is difficult not to get caught in the feelings all of these products deliver. The perfect kiss brought you by a piece of jewelry (because only gold can mean true love), peace on earth handed to you by a soda drinking polar bear (because they really still are in a winter wonderland, and global warming hasn’t affected their habitat yet), or believing in the magic of Santa and not having the candy melt in your hand as you faint. I will be the first to admit that I get swept up in the romance of the holidays. I devour holiday chick-lit and holiday movies as if they are hot buttery popcorn at a movie theater (fun fact..most of that “buttered” popcorn is vegan!). After years of playing Black Friday roulette, I finally started to ask myself if everything that I purchased is going to make mine or the recipient’s holiday season more joyful. No. No, it won’t. For me, the best part of the holidays -besides the holiday books and movies- is making breakfast for my family on Christmas morning, watching my cats and guinea tear through their holiday stockings (usually a bag of treats, a package of food, and a small toy they haven’t seen in a year because it has been buried at the bottom of their toy box...yes, they have a toy box!), and then curling up on the sofa in my PJs to watch the remaining few hours of the 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon. I know it may sound like I am a hypocrite because I just mentioned I give my cats a holiday stocking, but these are items we purchase for them on a weekly basis. I think they received new treat bowls a few years ago because their old bowls kept breaking. I still give some gifts at the holidays or for birthdays, but I make sure they are meaningful and ethical. I will go into a little more detail about this tip in a coming post! But my point with this tip, is that before the holidays consume you, stop to ask yourself, are any of these products going to bring more joy? This question also goes beyond the holidays. Try to count how many advertisements you see on a daily basis. There is always time to stop and ask yourself this question.
In addition to asking yourself if products are needed or will bring joy, ask yourself what the motives behind the advertisements and the companies are? In reality, every corporation, good or bad, is trying to make money to stay in business. Is their message genuine? For example, on the opening day of the 2018 NFL season, Nike released an ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. In the ad, Nike was standing up and showing their support for Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem. That was his way of being an activist and his form of protest for true equal rights in America. I, wholeheartedly, agree with Kaepernick’s actions, activism, and message, and was thrilled to see a large corporation supporting him. However, Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, made a terrific point when he talked about the Nike ad. As he mentions in this clip, Nike is still a corporation, and they are trying to sell a product (Noah, 2018). people spoke up and said they would buy Nike products because of this support. I am not saying that Nike doesn’t have the best intentions, I am saying question that intent. Is it genuine?
43. How does it make you feel?
Pay attention to how advertising and media, in general, makes you feel. For my undergraduate studies, I majored in Communications Technology (a fancy way of saying graphics and website design). One of my assignments was to create a media set for a fictitious company that built homes. The entire point of the task was to create a feeling to bring in customers. I had to develop a feeling of safety, coziness - basically the Danish feeling of hygge. Marketers want you to feel that sense of euphoria when you think about their products. On the flip side, marketers also want you to believe that you need their product to be complete. You are never good enough, sexy enough, young enough, or respected until you have all of these products to complete you. This is the feeling I felt when looking for ideas for my home as I mentioned in the previous post. I had to question my feelings and insecurities before I realized where they were coming from, and that I was falling prey to marketing messages.