Open letter to advertising agencies
Dear sir or madam,
Let me introduce myself: I am a teacher, and this is what I have seen among my students, relatives and friends for the last three or four decades:
At the end of the 1970s, while communism was still being on the front pages of newspapers, you promoted that having many things was the key to a happy life. Thus, people started to strive for being able to buy a lot of things for their houses like ants running to get the last dead bug for their ant-hills.
During the first part of the 1980s, it seems that possessing things as a key to a happy life was not selling as much as before. People probably just took it for granted. Thus, you needed to spice up your ads to be able to sell as much as before and you chose promoting sensuality as the next key value to be successful and happy in life. From then on, advertisements included suggestive or subliminal messages poking men and women to think a little more about sex besides having a lot of things, and by the way buying your products or services in the process. This was they key thought of the second part of the 1980s; but by the first part of the 1990s, it was not enough any more.
So you chose to give people a break. You didn't publicise buying a lot of things because people already took it for granted. You didn't include sensuality either, because that didn't sell as before any more. By then, you chose to promote having fun intensely and to think about responsibilities later (this, during the first part of the 1990s) as the main key to a truly happy life... until someone came up with the idea that having sex was also a great way to have fun too (this, in the second part of the 1990s). As a consequence, people did not only feel the need to have a lot of things, to be sexy and to have fun; but you also taught people to assess their social worth by the sex or popularity they could get.
With the boom of the Internet, this thinking spread in a worldwide scale.
By this first decade of the 2000s decade, I witnessed how materialism was not enough, how sensuality was not enough, how having fun was not enough, how raw sexuality was not enough and how popularity was not enough any more. So you felt in the need to include a little violence to spice up your advertising.
In order to be fair again, please allow me to pause this exposition here and to let you know what I have been doing while you were doing all these decades. I promise it won't take long:
During the first part of the 1980s, when I started teaching, and while you were spreading a materialistic wave among my students, I insisted on saying that money does not change anything without a brain, without morals, without a soul and without people (a family, preferably) who to share it with.
During the second part of the 1980s, while you were spreading the idea that sensuality was a perfect complement for materialism, I kept saying that human sexuality was not something to play with, and that those who thought it was, would learn soon that it was a lie, but the hard way.
During the 1990s, while you kept saying that having fun was one of the most important things in life, I kept advising my students to be careful not to sacrifice a cup of future for a teaspoon of meaningless present. I also became very specific when talking and advising about sex during my class; and, I must admit, this cost me losing a few jobs during those years.
During this decade of the 2000s, while you were spreading violence in all media and also the games children play, I promoted being brave when people were wrongdoing around and being "violent" (read courageous) only to shut up those who were ill-treating someone they love. I also suggested sticking to the law and the order our society has, instead of trying to create own rules.
I must admit I have "saved" a bunch of lives and that a lot of students love me. I have done my job. I have been a good teacher and I am proud of that. There is something you must know, anyway. I am tired, and I am retiring this year. I don't want to, but I my age doesn't allow me to continue teaching keeping the rhythm I have had all these years.
Yet I am worried... and this is why I am writing this letter. I want to kindly ask you to use the power you have got as advertisers to teach people a few new things in the upcoming years:
+ First of all, that a simple life is more comfortable than cleaning a house full of machines, devices and artefacts they will seldom use.
+ Second, that life is also fun when you are over forty years old, even for women with four children, imperfect breasts and a few wrinkles on their faces.
+ Third, that sex is an act of communication between two people who love each other, not just a lustful way to calm loneliness.
+ Fourth, that both studying and being responsible for our duties are still very important; and,
+ Fifth, that there is a lot of damage we need to repair in the world today, that we need to rethink and transform the way in which we do many things.
I am sure you will still be able to sell products and services with this new wave of positive thoughts and also help mankind a lot. The last question is, will you do it? Who knows? Maybe you can even sell more if you do it!
Take it as the last wish of this humble man, a man who has served your children for four long decades.
Thank you, Heptagrama, for publishing this letter on their e-magazine too.
Arts and expression + Opinion