Archives for category: advertising

v-day.jpgNothing says, “Hey, you’re pretty cool and I would totally have given you this friendship card even if it were not basically mandated to give one to everyone in the class” like this Optimus Prime Valentine’s Day message that my daughter gave out to her preschool classmates today (among other assorted, totally non-sequitur Transformers messages):

Freedom is the right of all sentient beings, Valentine.

I suppose if you’re going to look for every possible (or impossible) marketing hook, tie-in or promotion, then you might as well really go for it. Maybe I can turn this into an Easter outreach postcard for our church :)

…for inventing the internets all those years ago. Without your help, I wouldn’t have been able to place the music of Anathallo in this Vick’s advert (or, at least, not as quickly):

While I do like the idea that this one, mentholated commercial singlehandedly financed the upcoming Anathallo album, it kind of offends my indie sensibilities to have massive corporations co-opt songs that have personal resonance with me solely for the purpose of trying to sell me more stuff. I did end up purchasing this box of Vicks flavored tissues at Target the other day, but only because they were on sale (or, maybe, these ads are working subconsciously).

Reminds me of other ads I’ve seen featuring music that I like. For example, nothing says, “I need more ink for my printer” than a slow jam from some mopey Brits (alright, so the song is called “Pictures of You” and the ad is for photo paper but what possible connection can we make between “How Soon Is Now?” by The Smiths and a Nissan Maxima or “Stars” by Hum and a Cadillac CTS?).

I can’t get “doing things is what I like to do” out of my head. But there’s not a Dunkin Donuts anywhere even remotely near here.

EDIT: This particular Super Bowl ad from E-trade was kind of clever (“You know, me and the boys were talking about what to do with all this extra coin and I was like, ‘I’m renting a clown.'”) but creepy X2  [clown + superimposed-mouth talking babies = creepazoid robots].

The term “Black Friday” always reminds me of the Depeche Mode album, Black Celebration (but with less new wave flair) or the Black Plague. This has become an annual, morbid, spectacle as we watch shoppers stampede, fight and generally clog up the works at our favorite big box retailers to the tune of $475 billion this year.

As followers of Christ immersed in this culture of consumption, what are we to do? Yes, yes, “Jesus is the reason for the season” and we must certainly “Put ‘Christ’ back into Christmas” but fighting the temptation to go bust down some doors to get that half-priced plasma television is an uphill battle all the way. These days, every other television ad spends considerable effort making it seem like a perfectly reasonable thing to get into line at 3am to shop or that upgrading to that 52″ plasma screen will infuse your life with more meaning.

Eugene Cho and David Park have raised some really provocative thoughts recently about consumption and what it means to follow Christ. Maybe it’s the conspiracy-theorist in me, but I love the idea of subverting all of the marketing of these megacorporations and the greed in our hearts by turning some of this Christmas shopping season madness on its head.

Eugene writes about Buy Nothing Day and some of the reservations he has about this movement. In general, I think movements like Buy Nothing Day or that gross Feed The Pig commercial (where a man is about to buy a king-sized TV that he cannot afford until his grotesque half-man/half-pig companion smacks his hand) are good at raising awareness about our consumer habits. Greed, overconsumption, debt, keeping up with the neighbors — this is the air we breathe, and it can be extremely difficult to see life from another perspective.

However, it is far too easy to feel a sense of superior righteousness or to participate in things like BND as a one-time only, special engagement. As followers of Christ, we are called to a lifestyle of good stewardship and of genuine concern for others. To paraphrase Bonhoeffer, when Christ calls us to follow Him, He bids us to come and die — and the struggle to deny our impulse for the latest and greatest gadgets and stuff does require a certain kind of death.

The Advent Conspiracy invites us to restore “the scandal of Christmas by worshiping Jesus through compassion, not consumption.” [h/t: David Park]. Like any movement, I suppose the AC runs the risk of becoming faddish or trendy — but I think it is worth that risk. I love that this movement isn’t about not giving gifts or being cheap (“Um, I gave you two rolls of toilet paper out of the multi-pack because I wanted to be, like, a good steward. Right.”) but, rather, about giving better gifts — our time, our creativity, our hearts. Read through AC’s list of relational gift ideas and see if you don’t come across something that would really touch the heart of someone you love this Christmas.

May God change our hearts so that we enjoy giving and may He open our eyes to see the opportunities we have every day to love and serve.  Prepare the way of the Lord!

Being in town meant that I would not be missing our Sunday at church. While there is a definite downside to not getting away for the weekend, I could sense how God was using the words spoken through Francis Chan and Doug Fields to enlarge my heart further for my students. Maybe it was nothing revolutionary for them — I’m sure I still managed to lull them to sleep during the sermon today — but I’m praying that, by the grace of God, my love and prayers for them would ever increase.

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After a full day at church, I hustled over to the Town & Country and caught the Q+A part of Shane Hipps’ first seminar. I chatted briefly with him and wandered with him over to his next seminar (which turned out to be a good thing, because I never would have found the seminar room on my own. I’m really bad with maps and have managed to get lost several times this weekend) which expanded on several of the ideas in his book The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, which I highly recommend.

One of the most important things Shane discussed was the oft-referenced idea, “The methods change but the Message stays the same.” This speaks to our efforts to adapt new ways of bringing the timeless, eternal Truth of the Gospel to different peoples and cultures. Unfortunately, though the sentiment is sincere and well-intentioned, it is also false.

As Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” Shane did a fantastic presentation of McLuhan’s life, thoughts on media and the future and how this impacts us as followers of Christ. We must be clear-eyed about the ways in which the media we use — and not only Media Shout or MySpace — fundamentally alters the message we are trying to convey. I saw this illustrated at every general session — although I was often sitting only several yards from the speaker, I found myself (and saw most of those around me) watching the giant screens rather than the actual person in front of us. Shane gave a great quote about this: The screen always wins — it’s almost a creepy, bizarro take on “Love Wins” but it’s so true.

Although this seminar was very much about our current media culture, Shane was really addressing worldviews. And, even to take a step back further from that, Shane was addressing the forces at work that shape our worldview. Another McLuhan quote is helpful here: “We become what we behold.”

The printing press ushered in an age of linear, sequential, uniform, repeatable thinking as normative. And, in the modern world, we find this repeated in unexpected places — from the assembly line of cars and cookies, to the orderly, linear pews in our churches, to reducing the entirety of the Gospel into a sequential formula (e.g., Repentance of sins + Acceptance of Christ = Salvation to heaven).

However, the world in which we live changed long before the advent of the internet. Shane argues that the invention of the telegraph, photograph and radio began a dramatic shift in how we see the world. The telegraph, or “Victorian Internet,” broke the relationship between transportation and communication. The photograph recalls the stained glass of the Middle Ages — consider the difference between seeing the printed words, “The boy is sad” versus this photograph of a sad boy. The words are rational, linear and left-brained; the photo is intuitive, non-linear, right-brained — qualities that describe the shift toward postmodernism.

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I will interact more in the future with some of these thoughts. Shane’s seminar today triggered quite a few thoughts that I’d like to work through — especially regarding the built-in fluidity and ability of Asian Americans to navigate between and through different cultures. He was extremely gracious in fielding all manner of questions, and taking time out to chat with me a bit before leaving to catch his flight. It was interesting to listen to the line of questions that people raised afterward — questions about doctrine, defending our faith and jumping straight to the “take-home” revealed their linear, sequential, rationalistic mindset.

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I’m getting packed up just in case we need to clear out of here because of the wildfires raging around here. Please keep us in prayer.

For years now, pharmaceutical companies have been marketing direct to consumers with ads urging them to ask their doctor about a specific company’s pill. Sexual dysfunction, high cholesterol, sleepless nights — nothing, according to these ads, cannot be solved without the help of their products.  Big Pharma, with the help of Madison Avenue, has perfected the art of naming their pills.  These strange words sound vaguely scientific, often tweaking an existing word or combining words to create an interesting hybrid.  Some examples: Nexium, Exubera, Rozerem… Even student loan companies have gotten into the act — doesn’t “Astrive” sound like a pill?

Of course, there’s the small matter of the pages upon pages of warning and side effects associated with most of these medications.  I recently saw an ad for a restless leg syndrome medication (which was strange enough in the first place to me) and was puzzled by the warnings:

This product may cause you to fall asleep without any warning, even while doing normal daily activities such as driving. When taking this product hallucinations may occur and sometimes you may feel dizzy, sweaty or nauseated upon standing up. The most common side effects in clinical trials for RLS were nausea, headache, and tiredness. You should talk with your doctor if you experience these problems

I’m pretty sure you will already have spoken to several ER doctors and a couple of surgeons if taking this medication caused you to fall asleep on the road. And, if I’m a restless leg syndrome sufferer, I’m not real happy about the hallucinations: “My leg stopped shaking, but I can’t get rid of this dragon that keeps following me around.”  What was that about the cure being worse than the disease?  Reminds me of a Steve Martin piece from awhile back about side effects.