We’re all suckers for a good marketing ploy
In just a few short days, four giant demons astride winged, skeletal steeds are expected to swoop from the sky and hurl every man, woman and child into the dark chasm of the infinite.
“Curse you, Apple!” the terrified masses will scream as CEO Tim Cook desperately points out the improved 8-megapixel camera and upgraded dual-core processor.
But they won’t have it, those Apple customers. They wanted an iPhone 5. Instead, they got an iPhone 4S and now everybody has to watch as palm trees and baby lambs are cast into fiery oblivion.
But once the eyeball-skewering stops and the fires fizzle, they’ll probably still buy it – because that’s what people do. Despite the shrieks of disappointment and howls of fury that swept through the internet yesterday, the iPhone 4S is sure to be a massive hit.
These things are never about the product. They’re about the ritual. People will line up and wave at TV cameras and discretely urinate in Mountain Dew bottles because that’s what they did the last time, and the time before that.
At the heart of it all is the simple and enduring fact that advertising works.
Despite hundreds of years of learning to ignore ads, we’re not as immune as we’d have ourselves believe. Indeed, our belief in our ability to filter out the garbage leaves us especially vulnerable.
We’re enlightened, blissfully aware and cynical. We sneer at product placement. The man ain’t fooling us, man. We gleefully scoff at big budget advertisements and appropriately cringe at the idea of some slick-haired Don Draper waving his hands at oven cleaner executives while shouting about “nostalgia”, “trends” and “the cheapest Olsen twin”. “Wait ‘til Wil Anderson sees this one!” we giggle.
And then, on a particularly hot day, we find ourselves in a cinema, blinking and clawing at our skulls as Optimus Prime punches some phallus-shaped robot in the face and Rosie Huntington-Whitely runs through a collapsing building in six inch heels.
Over the past few days, pictures of Coke bottles with various names have started appearing on the Facebook pages of avid Mad Men and Gruen Transfer viewers. Cynical, furrow-browed folks are being reduced to giddy puppies at the sight of their own name on a piece of mass-produced plastic. Indeed, the ever-crafty Coca-Cola was this week named as one of the most valuable brands in the world by Interbrand.
It seems that for all our savvy and finely-honed scepticism, we’re still suckers for marketing ploys.
It’s why we shove spoonfuls of Vegemite into the mouths of visiting dignitaries, pretend to like Powderfinger’s later stuff or fill our shopping baskets with yellow stickers promising four cent discounts.
It’s the reason we keep finding ourselves watching Zack Snyder movies after being lured in with dramatic posters, frenetic trailers and blurbs along the lines of:
“Critics have praised its “strong violence”, “strong sex scenes” and unique “horror themes”, with many adding that the film is a perfect fit for “mature audiences”.
Our homes are full of eBay daily deals and low-carb beers because we’re quite happy to buy into promises of convenience and manufactured nostalgia. But there’s no shame in that.
Indeed, billions of people’s jobs depend on it. From factory workers and accountants, to pizza delivery guys, office staff, retail assistants and Zack Snyder.
At least, that’s what I’ll tell people when they ask me why there’s 23 bottles of “Jason” Coke scattered around my lounge.
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