Have you seen the ads for Arctic Circle (a Utah based hamburger and shake restaurant) that have been running on television recently? In case you haven’t, they feature commonplace looking adults, in your average no-brainer situations: watching the game on TV, sitting down to work in a sterile looking cubicle, or on a stool in the kitchen. They tell us that they have done something extremely routine and unremarkable like changing a light bulb, folding some laundry, or getting to work on time. As a result of doing these highly regular and sometimes mundane activities, they now tell us they deserve, and are entitled to, a reward. An edible, high calorie, unhealthy reward.
These commercials and others very similar to them bother me for so many reasons. I suppose this particular Arctic Circle series are meant to be kind of humorous, but no doubt those in charge are deadly serious about promoting their products and are spending millions of dollars on this advertising campaign to reach the most amount of people possible and pander to the self-serving notion that by waking up and having a heart beat we deserve compensation.
In our society there is a lowering of expectations with ourselves and our children; we anticipate mediocrity, we reward mediocrity, and here is blatant evidence. We are being taught the following erroneous principle: Do something normal, expected, something you should be doing anyway, and you deserve to be rewarded. Rewarded by food nonetheless. Spending money and consuming are a direct result from basically doing what is required to just survive.
“It’s just a commercial!” you may be saying to yourself. But there is real and disturbing evidence for how marketing and advertising are effective in instilling cultural “truths.” Marketing is real, it is part of our lives, and for better or for worse, it is part of families children’s lives. What is disturbing about these and similar ads are the manipultive quality of such a sales pitch and the underlying hypocrisy behind it. Do businesses such as Arctic Circle and others that promote these cultural ideas really promote productive employees, intelligent and creative people with a sense of responsibility and the integrity our world requires? If they did, their products would nurture personal responsibility, stewardship, and the health of families. “You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements” wrote British author Norman Douglas. What do current advertisements say about us as a people, as a culture, as a nation?
So what do we do about marketing that we don’t like or don’t agree with? We could boycott TV. We could invest in Tivo and just skip the commercials. We could never go to Arctic Circle. We could move to Madagascar. There are many many options. The one that I’m most inclined to do at this point is to talk. I mean talk to each other, bring up items in our environment that influence our thinking and our families. Talk to our kids as we watch TV with them and have a discussion about what we see. Engage in face to face interactions where quality of life is the subject. Examine your own stewardships. Analyze your motives and determine what is really in your own true self-interest. Don ?t wait for the government to create a law forcing others to act in a certain way. Use your own agency and strive for excellence.
There is so much good to be had. An abundance of beauty, joy, and enlightenment. Let’s not let our brains take a soothing bath in the warm mediocre crap that is permeating our lives. If we give in to the brain off conspiracy we will fill the world with fools.