Sunday, August 26, 2012
Ads in the old days used to be simple. The TV would show you a picture of the product, a man with a loud voice would tell you to Buy Now To Avoid Disappointment, and you would (but usually still be disappointed). The point is, you KNEW what you were buying and what it was supposed to do.
Just recently there have been a number of ads on Aussie TV that have been less than forthcoming about what it is that they are advertising and what they expect you to do about it.
Example: Qantas. Thankfully the schoolgirl choirs have been put back in the closet and (for a year at least) "I Still Call Australia Home" has been silenced from public broadcast. But one thing that the old ad had going for it was...pictures of planes! The ad invited us to gaze up at the Aussie sky, always on the lookout for that red-tailed symbol of hope and patriotism streaking across the sky. If the Kangaroo was soaring, then we all could soar in our own way. What other airline could there be for us Colonial Scum? NOW however there is not a plane in sight! Not even a jetstream. Instead (accompanied by the classical wanderings of Daniel Johns), the viewer looks down from on high at ordinary citizens going about their everyday business, not even thinking about the miracle of flight taking place right above their heads. But Qantas will always be there, for the airline is now a Service. Something that will be there in times of trouble. But the Individual is now at the centre with the airline looking in. You would be forgiven for thinking it was a Tourism Australia ad.
Now, this is OK because Qantas is a reasonably cuddly company (unless you're an airline mechanic or a baggage handler). If the average Australian takes one trip a year on a Qantas plane they're not doing too badly.
Sadly, another ad shows that this Invisible Product trend on our screens is far from benign. During the Olympics a new ad for Crown emerged...
A footman leads the viewer of a tour of a Typical Crown Resort. We pass through ballrooms, kitchens, luxury suites. Attention is drawn to the large numbers of people Crown is employing and training (implication: A successful Crown makes a successful Country). We're invited to think, "You know, that looks like a great place to spend a relaxing/romantic getaway."
What's missing? Poker Machines.
Lots and lots of poker machines.
Apart from one coy reference to "gaming", there is little to suggest in the advert that Crown is in fact a very large and powerful chain of casinos. All the wonderful images of the ad are really the garnish next to the steak. The whole aim of Crown is to fleece as much money out of their guests pockets as is legally possible in the shortest amount of time. What Crown are in effect selling is not an opportunity for a comfortable retreat. They are selling a corporate whitewash of their record of targeting the most vulnerable in society (the working class, pensioners, new migrants, and gambling addicts) and robbing them blind.
I know that advertisers get a positive hit from a Reveal. But nothing is being revealed in Crown's ad, and with a product that continues to do so much damage to our society I think there is a model obligation for this industry to advertise itself honestly.
Monday, July 2, 2012
Simply put, "to invest" means to move existing capital in the hope of generating a profit either through periodic dividends or increased sale price of assets. If you have no realistic expectation of a financial return, what you have isn't an Investment, it's an Expense - you have spent your resources on a product or service to suit your needs or wants. The persistence of my wife to use the language of Investment to describe expenditure on accessories has been a continual source of bafflement. I haven't taken a survey, but I'd be willing to wager there are other men out there who have had similar feelings.
Then the light dawned - what was at stake (for She Who Must Be Obeyed at least) was not so much WHAT money was to be spent on, but HOW they money was to be spent. This was a question of Gender Philosophy, not economics.
Investments are usually matters of family consultation, as they involve sacrificing short-term wealth for eventual satisfaction. You may put your savings down on a house that will last you until retirement, but this will mean that the ski trip to Hokkaido may have to wait until the mortgage is paid off. In these situations, all interested parties must be informed and supportive of any use of family funds for investment purposes. The Female Of The Species sees this as a perfectly applicable model for her discretionary spending. Her purchase of a $400 handbag this year will mean that she does not have to buy four $150 handbags over its working lifetime. The woman will see the benefits of having an item that best suits her needs, the pleasure of owning the same, and the reduction of conversations on the topic of Having Nothing To Wear/Carry as sufficient grounds to identify it as an Investment. And since Investments are for the benefit of The Many rather that The One, its almost like not spending money at all! The man will see the situation for the Lose-Lose it really is, but if he is wise he'll hold his tongue.
Men, by contrast, never classify their purchases as Investments. Men are happy to simply Spend Money. Often lots of money. On stupid things. Without even bothering to consult their conjugal partners. Here's how it works...
Men are merely Big Little Boys. Little Boys need Toys. Therefore, Big Little Boys need Big Toys. Big Toys cost Big Money. Therefore, a Man who spends thousands of dollars on motorcycles, jet skis, golf clubs, guitars, and other life necessities without discussing it with his Significant Other is merely meeting the needs of his kind. The value is simply in the enjoyment of the item rather on the potential resale price or how it will affect the children's food budget for the next 5 years. So when The Man comes home with a Guess What I Just Bought grin on his face, he will be genuinely astonished that his life partner's natural reaction will consist of Stony Silence and Slammed Bedroom Door.
What we need is a shift in the language of Expense Justification from both sides. Here's what I propose:
Ladies - "Investment" language will not only confuse your Man, such doublespeak is more likely to raise his blood pressure than decrease it. Instead, when you bring home a new purchase, simply tell him, "I bought this today. Isn't it pretty!" The Man will understand this - The Woman needs clothes/shoes/accessories on a regular basis and they like pretty things. Therefore, such a purchase is natural. If the Man is smart, he will have already carved out space in the budget so the issue of cost won't occur to him unless YOU make the mistake of suggesting it using "Investment" language.
Gentlemen - By all means, spend your money on the framed 1991 Wallabies jersey for the Pool Room. However, you are going to have to provide some justification to the Woman when you get it home. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can just sneak it into the house. You're going to need an Excuse. It doesn't have to be a GOOD Excuse, it just needs to be something plausible so that the money spent can be moved in her mind from Waste to Capital Expenditure.
Once you as a couple have established the lowest common denominator to justify ongoing outgoings, both Man and Woman can continue spending with impunity, at least until the bank account is dry and the debt collectors come knocking. But even if you don't get to keep the Burberry handbag and the new surfboard, at least you have the comfort of knowing that your game of Mutually Assured Financial Destruction has strengthened the bonds of marriage for you both. Now that's an Investment worth making!
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
A public-school system, in itself, is indeed of enormous benefit to the race. But it is of benefit only if it is kept healthy at every moment by the absolutely free possibility of the competition of private schools. A public-school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficent achievement of modern times; but when it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of the parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to then to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny, supported as it is by a perverse technique used as the instrument in destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past, which despite their weapons of fire and sword permitted thought at least to be free.
J. Gresham Machen. "Christianity & Liberalism", pp.11-12.