Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tue Dec-25-2012

'Tis the season - and there were some good messages in 2012.

Just a little while ago I ran across a link to a blog that rated the "5 Best Ads of 2012". And, I'm glad the author went to the trouble to post this - some of these ads are worth revisiting. For moral reasons.

For instance, the first ad listed (btw the page is best-ads-of-2012)
is a P&G ad. Now, P&G is probably one of the biggest, least personal conglomerates in the world. Yet, they DO make products that are aimed at our personal use - and for our use as families. So their ad, which is a tear-jerker, finding glory in Mom-hood, is definitely noteworthy. They do well to remind us of the importance of moms, and therefore, of our families. This 2 minute ad spans the trials and rewards of motherhood from 2 to 16. And does an amazing job of capturing same. Definitely worth watching.

The next 3 adverts listed, are, in my mind, ho-hum in the big picture. But the last ad listed brings us to my reason for this post. He lists Nike's "Greatness" series of ads, and notes the "Jogger" ad as his "best" Greatness - the jogger. And, once you get over laughing at this obese kid jogging, the morality of this ad - and the rest of the series is truly remarkable. It is a state of thinking that we all: zen, Christian, Jew, Muslim, and scientific, hold to be honorable and moral, attainable, and worthy of emulation. Greatness is one attempting to achieve what they are capable of. A person stretching, not the limits of the larger culture, but the limits of their own life. Stretching to a point that is not measured by what other people achieve.

And I think every one of us will agree that this is a wonderful objective, and a wonderful guiding light for our lives. Now, if I could just get over the fact that these wonderful and sentimental sermonettes have been delivered by a company I consider to be one of the premier examples of amoral corporate culture and greed, all would be well with the world. But, just like the African slum city pictured in some of the "Greatness" series (the bmx ad was one), such warts on life are with us. We are richer for having these ads.

Whether we are richer in total, for having these ads in the same world that their amoral parent lives in, I do not know.

Btw - very few of you will know what my gripe is against Nike. Way back, I felt they did dirt to Bill Bowerman, who invented the waffle sole, and "co-founded" Nike - but I'm not sure the relationship was all as good as the title "co-founder" suggests. I was friends, for a time, with one of his children - and that person was a guiding light in my life to this day. Bill Bowerman, even though we never met, changed my life (for the better, of course!), because of the child he raised.  The wiki on the life of this famous coach is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Bowerman.

By itself, I suppose this doesn't mean much. But, when I realize the same company sells hugely overpriced glitz sportshoes, and when I consider the markets that buy them, or steal them, I find little that is admirable. When I see that their ads, and their posturing, do not represent moral beliefs, but corporate profiteering, I find little there that I want to take home.

Sure, and you know I call myself an economist, which means that profit is the #1 goal, right? Yeah to all that, but that doesn't mean it has to be your ONLY goal. In the nature of economics, it is natural that companies with the strongest profit motive will become the biggest companies out there. This is why, as a society, we have regulations on companies and people in business. Having profit as the predominant goal is fine. Having profit as the goal so preeminent that other goals are interchangeable and complete malleable is not fine. The ultimate result of profit being too dominant is a world that is NOT beneficial to the most people.

2012 has been a banner year for examples. We have seen an athlete, so driven by the desire to win, that the desire came in front of any ideas of fair play and honest competition, we have seen that athlete exposed, and it has rocked the world.  Lance Armstrong was driven to win. And, he was so driven that he forgot any other rules or morals along the way. Now we know that Lance Armstrong used illegal techniques to win, to give himself an unfair advantage. He cheated. And it worked.

Nike is remarkable for having been a company with a strong profit motive. They wanted to make a mark on the running shoe world. They have done that. They are the #1 running shoe manufacturer. To what degree is their #1 position, and the #1 position of Lance Armstrong similar? All I can attest to is what I see - and what I see seems to me that the profit motive for Nike is like the desire to win for Lance. Worth anything, anything at all.

You know, I started this post with the idea of saying "these are wonderful ads, and we should keep stuff like this in mind, every day, and every moment of every day." But it has kinda devolved, because of my beliefs about the company that made those ads.

Well, the ads are a good example of positive thinking, and positive living. We need to do that. All of us. The crap that comes with, we have to take in stride, and figure out how best to live with the shitty neighbor. Metaphorically. The ads are nice. And we SHOULD all remember to find our greatness. I just think I'll try and find mine without the brand that made the commercials.