Reflections of the MP: Dream Makers

09Jun

Reflections of the MP: Dream Makers

Advertising and its twin, personal selling, creates a make believe world where gullible people like me and you get trapped into buying things which in reality, may not give us any benefit, per se. During my student days, I was negotiating the crowded pavements of Station why does the military buy viagra Road, Chittagong. Like any other salesman you meet on pavements, this one was pitching a magic block that would copy anything and you could reprint the copy on paper.

He had a mesmerized crowd watching him do the act and I too melted into that crowded circle. Then the final pitch, one for one taka, and a special discount of three for two takas. As I watched the crowd part with their notes, I too took the plunge and parted with mine, a hard earned pocket money, but I was now an owner of three beautifully wrapped magic blocks.

Rushing home and resisting the temptation not to open the wrappers on the way, the salesman was clever enough to explain that the magic only works after the wrapper is opened, I took the daily newspaper and a piece of paper on which to transfer the image. I unwrapped the magic block with much care and pressed it on the picture in the newspaper. Lo and behold, the image was on the block! Then I pressed it on the blank paper, and the picture was now on the paper! What magic.

Curiosity got the better of me by then as the material felt familiar. A bit of scratching turned out the magic block to be nothing but mere wax! Such is the power of dream makers.

Returning from an exhaustive seven hour bus trip from Chittagong late at night recently, I was greeted by my daughter with a deodorant can, a gift, bought for me. I hardly use any deodorant anyway and was surprised at her excitement to present me with the chocolate ‘flavoured’ deodorant. I do have a tooth for chocolates, never mind the worries of sugar and sweets at this age. But wearing chocolate smelling deodorant was carrying the liking a bit too far.

The very thought of sticky chocolate under your armpits gave me distasteful goose-pimples! Of course my wife too was having second thoughts of allowing me to use the deodorant. What if the chocolate smell begins to attract the better of the species? Not a pleasant thought for her, and another useless piece of cosmetic, decorating the shelves for the years to come.

What really makes me wonder is how countless women, and men, are conned into believing that a cream will turn them fair and lovely. Biologically we are coloured the way we are because of a pigment, melanin, the presence or lack of which colours us. Such chameleon creams should absolutely be material for a Nobel Prize for the promise they hold to beautify us, which they do not, unless of course you can afford the total surgical transformation like the likes of late Michael Jackson. As a layman, I do not see a scientific basis for the claims made, but there you are, such creams are top selling products, serving the vanity of women who want to be beautiful and live their dreams to be air hostesses or whatever.

How morally responsible is this? May be because I work for an industry where we need to deal with agriculture, food security and farm families, I find it quite difficult to accept these kind of dream making where the promise is nothing more than a zilch. What we promise to farm families with our products and services bring tangible benefits and better their lives, not just conjure dreams of frivolity.

As you walk through the malls in Singapore, you will come across wizards doing their act of selling their ware. And I marvel how frail we are in the way we are tempted to buy things on the spur of the moment, without thinking of whether we really need it. One of my hobbies is do it yourself stuff at home. Thus, I recall buying a glass cutter in a Singapore mall. The fellow made it so easy to cut glass and do wonders with the cut glass, a bit of glue and you were soon looking at a lovely show piece. Of course on returning home, I was lucky enough not to cut my fingers on the sharp edges of glass, forget cutting the glass!

Advertising and personal selling build brands. Brands are promises that consumers learn to trust over a painstakingly long period of time. And if you stumble on your promise, like a corrosive acid, you quickly erode the trust. We can be fooled once in a while before we understand how foolish we are. Thereafter, the realization begins to act, acid like, destroying the value of the brand in our minds. Next time you design your message, check how authentic you are, or are you seeking a one time dream to build your coffers?