Looking back on my life, I can’t believe all the things I took naively for granted. I used to think that the foundation of the U.S. was our constitution. It spelled out what was important to us, but the problem with that is that too many of us think that, like the Bible, it should be set in concrete and never changed. Of course, I see that idea is foolhardy at best in both of those cases. Let’s face it, the world has changed way too much to rely totally on in an almost 300-year-old document, let alone a 1500-year-old one.
No, the secret to our success, at least up to now, has been marketing. Marketing is the bedrock of a capitalist society. I know the top marketing schools have a very different definition of what they do, but I’m going to tell you my version, based on all my years of wisdom living through it, what I think marketing is all about:
Marketing is convincing the masses to throw away perfectly good things and replace them with other things that they tell you, you MUST have.
I have lived through seventy-some years of marketing and, like everyone else in the masses, I didn’t give much thought to how manipulating marketing was.
Until I graduated from college, I simply couldn’t afford to throw “good” stuff away, but marketing made me feel bad about that. Most of the other kids had all the most stylish clothes, and all the neatest toys, and I envied them. I was sixteen-years-old before we had a TV in our house. It was a used black-and-white model. Dad simply couldn’t afford to give us that “luxury”. When I went to college, I was working 30–40 hours a week twelve months a year and barely afforded the tuition and room-and-board. There was simply nothing left for the marketing gurus to get a hold of.
But then I graduated from college and went to work as an engineer for a huge corporation, making almost $1,000 per month. I never dreamed I would ever make so much money. To fit in to this new corporate culture, I wore the mandatory white shirt and tie, polished shoes and had a short stylish haircut.
But, when the 1970s hit, things changed. The marketing gurus were out in force. They convinced us that polyester clothes were a must. Checkered bell-bottomed pants and tight-fitting shirts were absolutely necessary to attract the ladies in their very short mini-skirts and knee-high boots. I was never much of a clothes hound, but since I had no idea how to attract someone of the opposite sex, I did own some of that type wardrobe.
This sort of thing has gone into high gear in this post-Covid era. Network television used to be the primary venue for the marketeers, but now that streaming has seriously reduced that scene, they are now attacking the Internet with a vengeance. If you don’t subscribe to a media service, and in some cases even if you do, it is difficult to see the latest news as it is surrounded by 90% marketing. If that is not bad enough, these ads follow you around wherever you go. You can thank Google for that.