Holistic Philosophies and Marketing
.. lets crunch the bad marketing craze ..
What possibly could Holistic Philosophy have to do with marketing?
Holistic Philosophies are always concerned with the “Common Good“, or to take this one step further, to an “Universal beneficial Value” for human kind.
Now lets examine marketing.
It would be wrong to call all type of marketing as “money orientated trash“, after all, we are living in a marketing focused society. Everything seems to be influenced by marketing.
No section of our society is without marketing; politics, religion, education, health, the the armed forces, and everything else, all is driven by marketing.
Marketing holds an amazing and often unrecognized power over people and whole societies. Indeed, it could be said, that most parts of our lives are directed by invisible strings by the puppeteers of the marketing industry.
As much as I admire the creativity of the people involved that show us the most amazing artful presentations for TV ads or whole long term marketing strategies, as much am I appalled about the possible negative impact this can have.
On the other hand, marketing is not just used for selling products or hard to sell ideas such as we see in politically motivated marketing campaigns, but it is also used to possible warn us of harmful habits or behaviours.
Seeing that everything in our society is influenced by marketing, actually, by definition, makes marketing “Holistic”. However, the distinction needs to be made to what effect marketing is used to “falsely” claim and influence people of what to do, or not to do, or to buy or not to buy.
Do we need another ruling body to check on each marketing campaign?
Who can decide if marketing is ethical, or if marketing presents factual appropriate messages?
After all, we are talking already about living in a Nanny State, where everything is ruled by laws, thereby taking away self reliance and responsibilities of the individual.
Watching TV advertising, I probably could point out, for every ad shown, a possible negative effect, a half truth or simply a biased point of view, all in fact un-ethical.
Steps to clean up advertisements and marketing strategies have been taken already. Smoking is certainly not in direct advertising mode anymore, and there are now advertising campaigns to highlight the dangers of smoking. But what about advertising for certain anti-smoking products, how much do we know about those products? How good or bad are nicotine patches, or chewing gum, or whatsoever, and do they work anyhow ?
Another form of advertising, which is problematic, is product placements in movies, TV shows, actually in everything we see. Is is coincidence, or purpose, that there seem to be more movies about with people chain smoking.
Fear is a great motivator within advertising, take the Anti-bacterial ad campaigns by example. People seem to believe, that they need those products.
Do people know, that the overuse of anti-bacterial agents can cause serious problems to our immune systems?
We read already about kids who are too “clean”, living in an over-clean environment, not building up appropriate immune responses. What will happen if you escape from your “anti-bacterial environment” and enter the real world? It has long been demonstrated that kids growing up outside in nature, playing in dirt often have a more efficient immune system than overly protected children.
Would a company selling anti-bacterial soaps and wipes and sprays, and lozenges change their marketing campaign to reflect the message, to only use their product if appropriate? That of course would throw up the question, when is it actually appropriate? I know heaps of people who don’t use any anti-bacterial products and they seem to live without any problems in their homely environment. Obviously, a hospital is a different story, you will have bacteria and other pathogenic agents floating around, and being in a hospital with a possibly lowered immune system, because of sickness or even open wounds, people are at their most vulnerable.
What is it about marketing that it easily breaches the borderline of ethical?
This question brings us back to money again.
Scenario one, someone has a product and obviously they want to sell it, and it’s actually hard not to sugar-coat it. You can’t sell milk by proclaiming it has no enzymes anymore to help digestion, that they have been all destroyed in order to give milk a longer shelf life. That would probably put a serious damper on sells figures.
How else could one sell milk? One could say it is healthy and essential for you, and one could make sure to drive that point further by attaching the fear factor, and stating that it is essential to meet your Calcium requirements.
However, the question, if milk is healthy is debatable. For some people it may be, for others it may be causing problems. How to address this problem in advertising is certainly a challenge. Competition is another causative factor for possible overstating benefits and understating problems, as we all have learned about smoking.
Scenario two is dealing with concepts or concept products.
First, what is a concept product? It is a product we probably don’t even need. Therefore a concept is created, where you do need that product.
Why is that done? It’s just business, it generates money, which is not a negative by itself, because at the same time it creates huge industries, employing heaps of people, who all earn money and go out shopping. I know, that sounds a bit cynical, but in a way that’s how it is.
Most processed foods fall into this group of concept products. These concepts can be further divided into 2 categories, the first one is a supportive, needed concept, which results in some kind of invention and beneficial product.
The second category falls more into the “who needs it?” category, and that is the one where needs and strategies have been artificially created.
Personally, I find no problem in sorting out what or what not to buy; however the amount of people I have talked to, who basically believe that if something is advertised it must be good for you is concerning.
It is not even surprising that a lot of people believe advertisements, if no one would believe it it, marketing and advertising would cease to exist.
Why do people believe what they see or read?
Advertising or just plain newspaper columns, comes with authority attach to it. It may go back to our time at school, where we were taught to read, and forced to believe, that what we read is the truth, and if we don’t believe it, we definitely will fail our examinations. 🙂
Another interesting point is that people like to believe in what ever is associated with their own belief and lifestyle. With other words, they will protect their lifestyle. Advertisements for this group is reassuring their lifestyle. If the new potato chips are more crisp, they must be good and should be bought immediately.
How can we infiltrate the powerful marketing industry with Holistic wholesome principles.
As I have pointed out before, there are marketing campaigns for positive lifestyle strategies. As Holistic Philosophy is embracing the whole message, those positive guiding principles need to play an equal role within the advertising industry. Marketing is already influencing the “whole” of society, all which needs to be done , is to point it in the right direction, and add an equal amount of positive and supportive marketing to equalize.
In a way, it is political, as the same holistic principles are often missing from political discourse. Advertising needs to address the real need for society.
Topics of health, poverty, drug use, education, self sabotaging lifestyles, peace, positivity, support, behavior, all that will serve the “common good” will need to be addressed with in marketing campaigns, newspaper covering, magazines and what ever media is out there.
Marketing needs to address human evolution, we have an enormous technical evolution, but looking out into the world shows devastating human conditions and behaviors on all levels.
Where is the human evolution? We are confronted on a daily basis with hate, war, domination, greed, brutality, injustice, crime and all this has no place in a holistic mindful society.
It’s time to reflect and advertise much more positively for human evolution and advancement. We see amazing examples of this principles around us in small clusters, and those clusters need to become larger and all encompassing.
There has to be political will to act on this, self regulation from the industry will not bring about human evolution or a holistic meaningful society.
Article by © Dieter Luske – useNature Editor