For the marketer, guilt's good

I get a mail from Deepali that features the 'Earth Hour 2009' campaign. The communique' asks me switch off my lights, 8.30 - 9.30 pm., coming 28th.

Tell you what, my lights will shine bright. That's because I don't believe in this Global Warming mumbo-jumbo. There's enough evidence out there to show that man cannot sway the elements. Now I am not saying one needn't worry about how one treats the eco-system. Surely we must care. But Global Warming? Hogwash!

It isn't global warming that I want to talk about. Its the aftermath to reading a message that exhorts you to switch your lights off, because that's the way you are supposed to show you care, about the environment. If the decision is not to switch off, in all probability there's going to be a lingering sense of guilt. Of not participating in this movement. It almost makes you feel like you are heartless. And that's a pretty potent feeling. The feeling of guilt.

Guilt's a strong emotion. Strong enough to eat you up inside. Smart marketers recognise this. And so they use guilt as an underlying emotion in a message. Such messages hit home. Consider this. To get any of the so called 'days' that marketers conjure up, for example Father's Day, to translate into retail sales, all they have to do is to make you feel guilty about the fact you haven't cared for the old man in some time, despite you knowing that he was there for you when you were young and growing up. By God, for you, that's a major guilt trip. So what's your response? Shower the old man with gifts. The payoff to the marketer? Can't you see?

Guilt in healthy doses is good because it ignites introspection. But for most people, the dosage is too high and the result is retail purchases that they believe will help them tide over the feeling of guilt. Of course, its a win-win. For you, the guilt fades, till the time you think you've messed up again, and for the marketers, its cash registers ringing.

Well, what can I say? Hooray to guilt trips? Hankies, please :(


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