TV commercials seem to always hit the right note in the human consciousness, enticing, cajoling it into actions based on deep-seated needs. Or seemingly so. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestselling book The Tipping Point mainly argues in the book that the most effective marketing strategy remains the word-of-mouth. But who could argue against the ingenuity of the creative minds behind TV commercials? They are probably the best human connectors around.
Nowadays, one doesn’t have to be a marketing strategist to notice “values,” however one define it these days, in our local TV ads. Filipino ad makers apparently are getting better in developing ads around core Filipino values like family, religiosity, or the tradition of festivity. With the failure and gradual demise of the American traditional corporate identity and the growing sense of corporate social responsibility, the integration of those core values are likely to take place more often. One can easily replay mentally Lucky Me noodles ad around eating together as a family. Or Coatsavers’ “No Father. It’s Coatsaver!” Or KFC’s sentimental mode of a grandma as she longs for her family, including a son abroad to gather together for the Noche Buena.
There is a certain astuteness to these creative outputs because the subliminal message of course is to patronize the products. Apparently, in a prized ad is a subtle compelling on the viewer to consume or buy, or pick the product from among its competitors. Core values get the wrapping and they appear so compelling that consumers need not be coerced in the first place to choose the commodity inside the wrapping. Core values, never mind the quality of the product, or its hazard to physical or environmental health, take charge of the internal connection with the consumers. They are the “Canon D Major” of the market these days!
I am thinking of the detergents we use for laundry. Scooping it up, mixing it with water in the washing machine and then draining the machine are as easy as turning the TV on and off. But it keeps me asking a question for now and the future – how environment friendly are those thousands of liters of detergent-diluted water daily drained into our creeks, rivers, and oceans? Chlorine alone is a major health hazard. There’s got to be an alternative more compassionate to the environment.
Take the case of coffee which is becoming an addiction especially for most working professionals. Because its marketing revolves around building professional or business alliances at coffee shops, or doing online research over a cup of frapuccino, coffee nowadays could take the place of “bread and wine” potent and symbolic in building what Lonergan terms as “common experience.” This is despite what solid research shows how coffee impairs not only the already poor working conditions of coffee harvesters in poor countries but also the human brain cells. Coffee is also a major stomach irritant. There’s got to be a cultural rehabilitation from its addiction.
But not yet because the traditional market keeps pushing its agenda for mass conversion to coffee products. This is what the ad “Para kanino ka bumabangon?” (“For whom do you wake up for?”) is being subtle about. A big slice of the population still do not hang out in coffee bars for academic or online chats. But they wake up everyday, often with stomach churning from electric fan induced abdominal air needing some hot water. Coffee-drinking pitches its perfect timing!
In “Para kanino ka bumabangon” there is less coercion and more a question for reflection charged with double meaning. Coffee this time is wrapped around core values of life’s purpose, meaningful relationships, meaning-giving work, and even social advocacies. No doubt it is a very important question for every morning riser, one that’s long been answered by solitaries and shepherds of ages past and the present. The answer is still kept by a few individuals and communities who close their nights in grateful silence and begin their day with silent reverence.
Minus the product, for whom do i wake up for?