Marketing or “I Love Big Brother”

Buy Nothing Day
Image by Bright Tal (Political) via Flickr

In my twenties, I sometimes epitomized the idealist radical. I knew people who wanted to shun all aspects of society, I toyed around with different ideas in aspects of shunting society as we know it. I embraced Buy Nothing Day (still do) and I became a big fan of “ad busters.” I started to think that anyone who enjoyed a commercial, for example, simply fell into the advertising trap and willingly engaged in brain washing.

Then I worked for small businesses. I helped create events to attract locals. We ran a summer “Comedy Club“, advertised, offered coupons. I created a few tapes of background music with my limited music collection, gently merging Dave Matthew’s Band with Janis Joplin.

Later, I was fully introduced to the non-profit world and strategic planning and consistent messaging. The mission statement was posted everywhere, a place to give focus.

Don’t forget, I sold books door-to-door.

And, then I found myself phone banking. I cold-called people on the telephone, random numbers, and asked them to donate to PBS, NPR, and their local museums. We had a script. We had goals. We were coached from supervisors. We were told to tell the truth, so if someone asked if were volunteers we were to tell them we were paid employees of a contracted firm.

I found myself working in a design-build firm, and I had the opportunity to work closely with web designers, graphic designers, all on the heals of the organization celebrating their 50th anniversary. I attended a conference, I listened, I studied. I became more aware of branding, image, consistency in print material – even down to a business letter.

Then, I was volunteering again. Now, I was coaching others on branding! I had done my own 180. Suddenly, I found that I loved big brother. The lessons stick with me, and I am more keenly aware of font contrasts, making things pop, recognizing bad design and having difficulty creating good. I used to hate advertisers, thinking they were merely out to brainwash the world one bad ad at a time. Now, I giggle at most TV ads I see. Most, I consider clever, how they pack their message in a 20 second slot, with a complete story line: beginning, middle, end. I even love the new Wal-Mart ads for their catchiness, ability to appeal to the masses in an intellecutal way. I consider the film classes I took that taught me, among other things, to always consider the point of the director. What is the director trying to show?

Regardless, I love Big Brother. I love Big Brother for the art it is. I am thankful for my ability to question, to ponder, and to wonder. I appreciate the lessons learned and amazed at how when I entered my 30s the optimism and idealism of my 20s wanes to reality. If I had to do it over again, with the knowledge I have now, I would consider an advertising degree. Yes, I certainly do love Big Brother.

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