They’re baaack!

Chia Pets

I returned from my road trip just in time to see The Chia Pet display go up at my local variety store, signaling the beginning of the two-month winter consumer spending festival we call Christmas.

The Christmas season is a fascinating time to study advertising methods. The rule set of the festival (everyone buys a gift for everyone else) ensures that more money is spent during these few weeks than at any other time during the year; thus the competition for holiday dollars heats up into a massive no-holds-barred persuasion frenzy.

All of the usual marketing techniques are in play, but much, much more so. Every technique is deployed shamelessly, relentlessly, compounded by sheer volume. Mom, family, apple (or pumpkin) pie, generosity, love and sentiment are stirred into an evil alchemical brew with guilt, shame, and worry over the looming deadline. There is no product or service so unrelated that a connection cannot be constructed to suggest it will enhance the warmth of your home, the love of your family, the esteem of your spouse, the happiness of your children, or the joy of your holiday.

I invite you to participate as a curious observer this year; to notice the variety of strategies in play, and to take particular note of which ones seems to tug effectively on your heart strings. Where do you seem to be vulnerable? Which weapons of automatic influence do you think work best on you? Pay attention to all of this, because you can use the same techniques to link very worthy human desires like connection and belonging to the achievement of your own goals, even those that seem only distantly related, to these powerful emotional triggers.

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