December 28, 2012
I just realized that the key to advertising can be summed up in one word: Bullshit.
That’s right, the key behind every single strategic slogan, even the greatest ones—Nike’s “Just Do It,” McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It,” and L’Oreal’s “Because You’re Worth It”—is pure bullshit.
It’s all about making the customer think that those one hundred dollar tennis shoes work ten times better than the twenty dollar ones, even though they’re made of the exact same materials. It’s about making people believe that the Big Mac is the tastiest American sandwich—despite the fact that it’s over-processed, slightly dry, and full of pink slime. And last but not least, it’s about making each and every woman think that putting on L’Oreal’s latest nude lipstick and waterproof mascara will make her look like a million dollar celebrity.
As a marketing director at Statham Industries, the number one software company in the country, my team and I have the “privilege” of coming up with new bullshit every day. Everything our company produces—cell phones, laptops, advanced tablets, et cetera—needs a savvy slogan and a matching promotional campaign months before it can be officially released.
My job is to make sure that only the best campaign ideas get sent up to the approval committee, so in all actuality, nothing should be sent up. Ever.
All my associates are recent college graduates and future copyeditors. (God bless their poor, unfortunate souls...) Some of them have potential, but the majority of them don’t. Whenever I reject their proposals with pages of red-inked notes, they whine and say, “Can’t you just give it a try? Can’t you send it up anyway? I got an ‘A’ in Business Marketing in college!”—as if that means a goddamn thing in the real world...
These “grade-A” geniuses recently submitted the following taglines for Statham Industries’ sPhone, the iPhone’s biggest competitor: “sPhone. Because ‘s’ comes after ‘i’.” “The new sPhone. You so want it.” “sPhone. Because we can.”
See? This is the type of f**kery I have to listen to (with a straight face) for hours on end.
To make matters worse, the CEO of the company—who never makes an appearance, sends out incessant memos about policies that don’t make any sense. He recently implemented “hourly parking zones” in the parking lot to “better enable employees to get home quickly and safely,” but the real reason is to discourage overtime. (Cars left in the lot after five fifteen are immediately towed away)
How ridiculous is that?
He also paid some idiot two million dollars to speak to all company employees, an idiot who passed out bean bags and “energizing packets” to boost employee morale.
We now have to attend weekly “Zen sessions,” monthly “coming together” focus groups, and spend thirty minutes a day writing in our “Zen journal,” i.e. you.
Yes, believe it or not, you were almost tossed into the trash seconds ago, along with the rest of that useless “Zen” crap. However, something told me to reconsider that once I flipped through your empty pages...I guess I can use you as a therapeutic device instead.
I hate you and I hate my pathetic excuse for a career,
PS—I promise I don’t normally curse that much...on purpose...
My reflection was lying to me.
She was showing me a happy woman in bright red lipstick and coral eye shadow, a woman who looked like she’d just won the lottery—not a brokenhearted woman who’d spent the past four years trying to put her life back together.
You don’t look your age...You don’t look your age...
I could practically pinpoint where my wrinkles would come in, where the creases near my eyes would multiply and spread out over time; where my lips would eventually thin out and dissolve into my mouth. So far I’d been lucky, but I was pretty sure the hundreds of anti-aging and wrinkle-prevention creams I’d been using were the real reason why.
I was turning forty in two weeks and I was suffering from all the symptoms of a mid-life crisis. I was questioning everything I’d ever done, comparing myself to all my friends, and wondering if I would ever find more fulfillments in life. I’d even started making a list of everything I needed to do once I hit the big 4-0:
1) Make a plan to quit my job in five years and pursue my dream career: Interior Design.
2) Pay off all my credit cards and start making larger mortgage payments on my house.
3) Stop reading so many romance books...
4) Save up enough to take my daughters on a week-long cruise in the summer.
5) Stop looking for potential wrinkle-lines and quit considering Botox.
6) Clean my house from top to bottom and KEEP it clean!
7) Stop blaming myself for my ex-husband’s affair...
8) Stop hating my ex-best friend for being part of the affair...
9) Treat myself to a new restaurant every month.
10) Learn to be happy alone.
“Claire! Let’s go! We’re going to be late!” My friend Sandra called from the kitchen.
“Coming! Coming!” I grabbed my jacket and headed downstairs.
I took another glance at myself in the hallway mirror and cursed under my breath. I couldn’t believe I’d agreed to let her drag me out to another singles mixer. I never found anyone worth my time at those things, and the foul scent of desperation always hung in the air.