Reflecting on the theme of joyful living led me to an online search of the word joy. I was surprised by the high number of links to consumer spending. While I don’t believe buying things is bad, I do think it would be wise to be more discerning about the corporate marketing messages that bombard us everyday. Many of the clever appeals are memorable, but they can also distract us from our true needs and those of our local economies.
A particular reference to The Story of Joy caught my attention. It turns out this catchy phrase refers to an advertising campaign promoting the joy of owning a BMW vehicle. Here are 10 reasons why owning a BMW is joyful according to BMW: it makes you more youthful, it inspires works of art, its collectable, it shapes the future, it has a fan club, its contagious, it can be counted, it’s efficient, it’s dynamic, and it’s unstoppable.
BMW didn’t mention anything about the price of their vehicles, but perhaps the cost isn’t important with so many other joyful benefits.
After all, who wouldn’t want to feel more youthful and unstoppable while helping to shape the future in an efficient and dynamic way?
It’s no surprise large and successful companies like BMW spend so much money linking their brands with human aspirations like faith, hope, love, peace, and joy. This form of advertising is vital for an economy that depends on stimulating continuous needs and wants for all types of material things—big and small.
For some people, buying a new BMW may be analogous to the joy of getting engaged or having a baby. I remember reading about a wealthy lady in New York that was buried with her beloved Cadillac. It’s a new twist on the ancient practice of burying Egyptian pharaohs with their chariots, boats, and other worldly treasures.
I used to drive a BMW convertible. It was a great car other than its tendency to scrape across parking curbs because of its low to the ground design. As much as I enjoyed cruising around with the top down, I never thought of the car as being any more joyful than a good meal or a conversation with a friend.
Product placements have been showing up in movies for years and most major stadiums have names that acknowledge corporate giants.
Why not take the next step and incorporate popular business brands into our holidays?
Imagine Santa Claus squeezing down the chimney wearing Salvatore Ferragomo shoes while dragging the presents in an oversized Coach handbag. Just try not to think about the Thanksgiving Day turkey wearing those fashionable pajama jeans.
We could even add more corporate-friendly holidays. How about Disney Day in mid January when everyone dresses up as their favorite Disney character? We would have more than 600 characters to choose from including Abu the genie (Aladdin), Ursula the sea witch (The Little Mermaid) and Yen Sid, the powerful sorcerer (Fantasia). It would be an opportunity for many of us to make amends for our uninspired costume on Halloween 10 weeks earlier.
How about Happy Lawn Day in May when you try to create the best yard on your street in the pursuit of an exciting prize like a riding lawn mower or a three-speed weed whacker. I’m sure Donald Trump would lease his voice to promote Your Fired Day in September, a day celebrating our ability to overcome average bosses.
Corporations could even compete for the honor of being honored with a national holiday. No doubt in my mind that many would fork over millions of dollars for the exclusive branding rights for their own special day. Perhaps the government could include some tax breaks as an incentive.
After conquering the calendar, patriotic marketing gurus could take a whirl at invigorating American history.
Who could dispute the pivotal role that Just Do It played in fostering liberty and justice?
The best part of waking up reminds us about the mythology of coffee in helping Americans cope with those long hours toiling in factories at the turn of the century? Reaching the moon wasn’t a small step for man; it was a giant leap for the Golden Arches.
Start noticing all the helpful reminders on how to be good-citizen consumers: obey your thirst, invest with confidence, think outside the bun, raise your hand if you’re sure, fly the friendly skies, and don’t leave home without it.
It gets confusing doesn’t it, but that’s the point of history for some people.
Real history, like genuine joy, is not as exciting as manufactured hype.
It’s more tempting (and fun) to unleash the infinite possibilities of nonsense with never ending promotions; so easy a caveman can do it.
I admit I have a modest affinity for some brands as long as they are fair and balanced. Here’s some of my favorites:
Nutella (the original hazelnut spread),
Newman’s Own organic food (shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good),
Discraft (world leader in disc sports),
Activia (it really does taste good),
Annie’s Natural Dressings (good for you and good for the earth),
Holy Mole by Rick Hotton (crusader for conscious living),
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps (no tagline, but noteworthy for having the world’s most verbose packaging label),
multiple brands of beer,
and of course Transformation Magazine.
One final thought about the story of joyful spending. Enjoy the clever marketing of national brands, but spend your money supporting local small business owners whenever possible.
By Randy Moore