Remember the scene on Mad Men Season 5, where Don Draper in his smooth way nearly convinces the leading men of Hershey’s brand to allow his agency to represent them? In his eloquent spill he shares a story of his “father” taking him to the drug store to get candy, with him picking of course Hershey’s. He continues this near lullaby saying that with warm affection “my father tasseled my hair and forever his love and the chocolate were tied together.” Feeling any type of way? I bet the Hershey men sure were, salivating over what they just heard. It was a pitch for a commercial, a potential commercial for Don’s agency to design for Hershey’s brand. We get those same feelings of warmth, captivation, yes salivation, comfort, and empathy when we see commercials. No matter what network you choose, we see streams of commercials pulling at our emotions, tugging for our affections, ultimately demanding our attention. Demanding our attention to go out and do something, to buy a product, tell a friend, or register for something. Yet, not only do these as AD’s as we see in Don’s made up childhood case moves us to purchase something but it also inspires our cultural behavior. Individually we associate our favorite brands, often the leading ones with some sort of emotion, with some moment in our lives, and collectively these feelings, these brands become apart of who we are. There are three ways ad’s do this: define what’s important, shapes what we value, and inspires cultural pride. For another example, take Chrysler’s commercial during the Superbowl, designing the tagline “Its Halftime in America” highlighting the struggle and progress of all in this country we love. What brilliance, its what ads do all the time to us, its what marketing and pr agencies strategically conceive. Its how they trigger emotional responses in us, telling us either subtly or directly what should be important in our lives. So next time you sit down watching your favorite show, remember the Mad..oh sorry Ad agents who shape what we do, question is will it shape you?
“What! Is this for real?” I exclaimed to my brother right after the Cavs won the Eastern Conference Championship heading into the NBA Finals for the first time ever in our playoff history. It was amazing, as my brother stood outside with thousands of fans who were not able to purchase tickets watching on the big screens right outside the Q (Quicken Loans Arena). My goodness, it was quite a night seeing everybody jump around, run around hugging each other in excitement. In fact there was one guy who even ran up to me high fiving and then delivering a big bear hug. For that night it was fine for a stranger I did not know to embrace me, because the people standing around us that night were not strangers to my brother and me, they were our city, our people, our town. Yes, this is what happens when victories come to Cleveland, this is the life, the pride of Cleveland sports that is shown in full display on a night like that. Just recently, there was another jovial and momentous celebration when the Cleveland Indians went to the postseason for the first time in years. The season ending in the Indians battling with intense effort for a wild card spot couldn’t have ended better with Jason Giambi an all star of sorts in baseball, at 42 years old hitting a walk off homer to lead us towards the postseason! We as Clevelanders take pride in our city. We take pride despite of “The Decision”, despite off the Indians former loss to the Redsox in 96, despite off “The Shot”, and despite of the Browns miseries. We keep on going, we keep rooting, keep on cheering on our teams because its who we are. This indomitable spirit and energy is embedded within our culture, in the culture of Cleveland, we accept and expect nothing less than that!
We have the freedom to do whatever the heck we want in this country, to a degree of course. We see in this shutdown situation, that we have the freedom to be irresponsible, we have the freedom to be stupid. It is plain stupid to hold our country’s economic progress back even though it may be short term, for the expense of some political gain or a cheap score on the President whom a number of our public officials in Congress disdain. What do we about this? Do we just sit back and allow it to continue to happen or do we do something about it? Well, part of the answer is in what we are already doing, in what is already taking place around the country. Everyday millions, yes millions of Americans wake up, get out of bed, and go to the workplaces serving our country in a variety of ways. We see this in a corporate office designing the roll-out of a new product that will be environmentally sustainable, in a classroom where a dedicated woman is teaching special need’s children, in a factory where someone recently trained is making windmills for new energy sources, or a firefighter standing by the call. We see it in a college setting like Washington Adventist University, that took a whole day off to serve. It’s these stories and more that can inspire us to continue to do something each day to serve our country, because of all us, even just half of us contributing our part goes a long way. We have the freedom to do it, and that’s the beauty of it! Some may choose their freedom to be obstructionist, we can choose the latter. As we make that choice, what example will we send our leaders in the nations capitol to what path they should choose?
“We can’t win,”- Senator John McCain, Arizona Republican commenting about the Government Shutdown
I Am America: Part II
Is this the country we know, the country we grew up believing in? Is this really America? Some might think otherwise, and some are understandably confused, frustrated over the shutdown, the impasse of our government that starts today. I know of a young man who has a quite the perspective over what’s happening now. Last post you were introduced to him, to this rising video producer: who is making his way in America, the United States of America. Yet, after a fresh conversation and sit down interview with him, he is not so sure that America is united as it appeared. His perspective on our government shutting down today temporarily is this: “After the situation in Syria, this shows America right now concentrates too much on international politics.” Eugene went on to say that America’s conflict between Republicans and Democrats “is a good example that America should focus on their inside problems more so than outside.” “America for me is known, is associated as a united country, but like them Russia for example, the U.S. talked too much about Russia’s problems while losing their own battles here at home.” He in fact believes that this political conflict “is stupid.” Yet beyond the silliness of our government’s mess presently, immigrants like Eugene still believe that you can “feel the spirit of opportunities and diverse perspectives here.” “I can feel the big difference here, in making a career and achieving your dream, than what I felt in Russia.” For instance, he see’s remarkable financial opportunities because “people pay good money for your work.” Even in every day life, in doing simple things like taking the bus, Eugene has quite a view, “To feel secure here is complicated, on the bus you see all kinds of people, you have freedom but on the bus for example you don’t feel secure.” Is this a paradox? Perhaps yes, because after this shutdown and after many other recent events we can see a stark contrast between our proclaimed values, between what we are known to be and what we actually are. In the words of John McCain, we “can’t win” by taking the small view over petty things such as maintaining a congressional majority rather than big things like maintaining government workers jobs especially in light over us still climbing out of the recession. We cant win by ignoring the challenges such as security as Eugene spoke of, such as violence here in our nation that happens every day in blood washed streets in Chicago or a even a school in Connecticut. We wont win, until we get over our narrow mindedness and short term thinking, and take the long view for where we need to go, its the only way that will save us, that will allow us to continue to be ..America.