Youtube blessed me with an advert for a well known “fast food restaurant chain”, as Wikipedia calls it; I’ll leave you to figure out which I mean rather than give them any blatant justice (or disservice). As are the times the advert was essentially a short elaborate video with a Christmas theme (although not as elaborate as the M&S one I saw last week). That a typical TV advert might be a number of minutes long still intrigues me because it always seemed that when they were indeed aired on television (it has been a few years since I have watched TV) they were of a standard short snappy length, not any more; now many are short feature films in themselves with all the CGI trickery of a modern blockbuster movie (or so they appear). More on “trickery” later on.
The thing is, this particular advert amused me because the punch line was nothing to do with the selling of “food” but the selling of supposed “Good Times”, although aside from when they tried to push an air of healthiness and tell everyone they sold salads too, I wonder if they’ve ever tried to directly market their “food”. Then again, this is, I suppose, what 99% of all products (and services) and their advertising are really offering; an idea, a nice thought, the Philosopher’s Stone.*
*Coincidentally I’ve just begun reading The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in which he tells the story of an alchemist, because alchemy and other such fun things were popular at the time of Chaucer, and basically how budding alchemists were all duped on the idea of finding the Elixir of Life, the Philosopher’s Stone; the ability to turn a bunch of ‘stuff’, for which they were sold (and ended up broke because of), into Gold.
This idea runs through pretty much everything that is marketed these days; you’re sold a bunch of ideals to want and crave, whether it be love and luxury, happiness or, well something else that begins with h, but not hamburgers, no, you can go anywhere for those.
So anyway, the advert in question depicts a “toy doll” that year on years fails to sell, perpetually living a life of loneliness and sadness. Over the road she sees said “fast food restaurant” and before you know it she is navigating the busy street, through Christmassy snow, and then we’re blessed with images of “Good Times” therein. She, the “doll”, finds her partner therein and goes home with him. Another happy ending, providing you buy into it all.
Initially what bugged me about the advert was how the toy shop used was a “traditional affair”, you know the type with proper toys, not packaged plastic tat, whereas the fast food chain is all about “production line principles” and mass produced stuff that is shown as edible but provides questionable sustenance. Interestingly, the “companion toy” the girl “doll” finds is of a mass-produced type, but what else would you expect to find in such a place? Looking below the surface one sees that the girl doll represents a more traditional young person, who, due to that perpetual loneliness and sadness has to forgo her (I will use the word) honest background, give in, and buy into all that is mass-produced and fake; leaving her safe confines (where few people now exist) to bravely enter into that dangerous place beyond the bustling traffic; it’s almost like leaving the countryside to enter the big city. Therein we’re show those images of “Good Times”; all those others who have bought into that image and display themselves as young and happy, because after all, that’s what they’ve been sold, so they have to show it else admit to the fact they were duped, like the alchemist who bought that long list of stuff, and followed the directions dictated to him in order to obtain the so-called Elixir of Life, to be wealthy with gold, and to be happy for it.
Do you see the trickery of it? In the book on Kabbalah I was reading recently it had a page on magic and mentioned how advertising and marketing of goods and services is essentially a form of magic, and if you consider that there is either good magic or bad, then (such) advertising is surely the latter. To pull off a successful advertising campaign one needs to succeed in manipulating the audience into buying (into) the product or service, and you have to understand the science of psychology to achieve this. Now I realise why a book on “Persuasion Skills” I read a few years ago was called the “black book”, a book about making money and attracting people, i.e. programming people (NLP) into thinking the way you want them to think. You think a multi-billion dollar business can’t employ a psychologist or two for their marketing department? If there is a form of good magic, the white kind if you like, then I’m sure it works on the level of the soul rather than the ego; it comes from good place and makes the world better for all, rather than filling the pockets of an individual or two at the detriment of others.
I’m convinced that when you buy into anything that is mass-produced, especially if your eyes aren’t open, you too become essentially mass-produced, a sheep if you will (perhaps this is where the term to be “fleeced” comes from); whether it be with clothing, education, religion or food. I should also add that I have been listening to an audio book of the dystopian novel We by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin, because this may well be contributing to my current views.