Posted by: nickgerlich | June 10, 2008

Material World

The preacher stopped talking long enough last night to walk down off the large stage and into the seating area. He saw an usher sitting alone in the front row of one small section. There were four empty chairs beside him.

The preacher said, “Desire is when I want one of these chairs.” Sweeping his hand from side to side he said, “Greed is when I want these four chairs.” After a pregnant pause he concluded, looking directly at the usher. “And covetousness is when I want your chair.”

CookiesIt was about at that point I began to sink a little in my own chair, for I know all too well that a marketer’s job is never done. And that it requires me to try to make you covet something you don’t have, and to feel badly about what you do have.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a special extra-hot place reserved for us in hell.

I will never buy into the argument that marketers create needs. We may do their level-headed best, but the most we can do is create desire. It is consumers who take the marketer’s cues and create wants. Whether you need it is neither here nor there, and really not for me to decide.

Isn’t it convenient to have such a snappy comeback to all the social critics of marketing? I silently debated with the preacher, my head now a good four inches lower than my wife’s. This is my calling, and I try to do it well. Depending on the setting, I am either teaching people how to take other people’s money, or doing it myself. But I want to be able to hold my head high when I meet my maker, knowing I always did my job well.

Now where where did I put that asbestos vest? It’s always pays to be on the safe side. You never know.

Still, I can’t help but ponder the ramifications of Marketers Gone Wild and their impact on consumers far and wide. I can play the Consumer Sovereignty card till the creditors come calling, but I’m still not 100% sure that consumers alone are completely responsible for their actions. And that I can smugly walk away with their money. Which means that after all these years in my own marketing pulpit, I wonder if I’m just stoking my own eternal fire pit.

Perhaps it is good to let the seed of doubt grow a little in my mind. And maybe it would be good for us all to water that fertile space in our own mental gardens, for in so doing we keep our freedoms and responsibility in perspective.

Now just get your eyes off my chair.

Dr “Can I Get An Amen?” Gerlich


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