Our society is overwhelmed by advertising and messages of consumerism. How can we protect ourselves from the greed that surrounds us?
Key takeaways from this week's episode:
- You'll get a sense for just how overpowering these messages are in our society.
- You'll hear the 1971 ad that changed advertising forever, and see how it tricks the Mind.
- You'll learn how to block out all these messages of materialism and replace them with messages of Character, Values and Principles.
And if you know someone that would enjoy this podcast, please share it with them.
Swimming in an Ocean of Materialism
Welcome back. I’m Alan Gordon, creator of the Cycle of Mind System. The notes from this episode will be on my blog, so just relax your Mind and enjoy. If you want to chat, or get answers to any questions go ahead and get on my Facebook Group.
Today I want to talk today about materialism – from the perspective of Mind, and also how our lives are defined by Character, Values and Principles.
In 1835, the circus in New York put up the first giant sign on the side of a building, and it said Circus 10cents, then it listed all the amazing acts you could see, shows nightly starting at 7pm. There had never been signs like this - advertising. And the sign business exploded over the next 30, 40, 50 years until every great city in America had large signs with even bigger signs. Then in 1923 the publisher of the Los Angeles Times Newspaper put up his epic Hollywoodland sign in the hills of Hollywood.
If the signs were big and bold, you were in a city. If the signs were small and tasteful, you were in a town, and if there were no signs, you were Nowhere. From that time until today, our world has been defined by advertising. If you don’t have big signs and ads, you’re not a first world country.
All this advertising triggers our instincts. I want more. My 11 month old grandson was visiting us and we put him in his high chair and cut up some grapes and strawberries and his cute little hands grab the fruit and put it in his mouth. And when that fruit is gone – he doesn’t know words, but let’s you know – it’s kind of a loud groan….. We all know what he’s saying. I want more.
He sees a child playing with a toy, and “I want that toy”. I want is ingrained in our DNA. It is part of who we are. Self-interest, as we discussed in a previous episode, is one of our primary natural instincts. Advertising and sales plays to those instincts. Advertising feeds the I Want side of your nature.
No matter what you’re watching or reading, you can safely assume that they are trying to sell you something. They are trying to put the idea into your Mind that you cannot live without their product or service or idea.
Everyone has one – shouldn’t you have one too?
You’ve tried everything else and it hasn’t worked, here’s why ours is different.
This will change your life.
This will improve your status.
This will make you more attractive.
This one is bigger and better, new and improved.
This will save you from so many problems down the road.
This will keep your family safe. And you want to keep your wife and children safe, don’t you? Sure you do.
I’m a salesman, I’ve trained thousands of salespeople. I know exactly how to sequence these words and phrases to reach right into your Unconscious Mind, and manipulate your emotions.
We have grown up with these sales messages in our head since we first looked at a TV screen. We are not even aware of how inundated we are with consumerism. It is engrained in our thinking, buying feels good, you should never stop consuming, your status in society is based on how much you buy. Our entire lives, our beliefs and our emotions have been tied to consumerism, to our need to have the things we want.
Until the 1960’s advertisements were quaint, but then they started to get sophisticated with body language and celebrity endorsements, and very carefully staged social cues – all targeted to your Unconscious Mind. Then in 1971, the advertising agency McCann Erickson revolutionized advertising forever when Coca Cola aired its famous ad during the Super Bowl. From 1971, here is the Coca Cola ad “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” They say the ad ended up costing over $250,000 which at the time made it by far, the most expensive ad ever produced.
I’ll put a link to the video in the blog. Here is the Coca Cola ad from 1971 created by ad agency McCann Erickson.
I could talk about this ad all day long, but here are three reasons why I vote for this ad as the most effective ad ever:
I’d like to build the world a home, and furnish it with love. What a beautiful thought! What a Compassionate thought!
Coke wants a perfect world of Compassion.
The message was so beautiful, but the problem was that Coke is just a corporation. They were advertising, they are not working toward a world of Compassion, they were advertising and implanting their idea deep into your Subconscious Mind. They are not making the world a Compassionate place, they just used the idea of Compassion to get their brand into your Subconscious.
And I’m not saying Coca Cola did anything illegal – they paid the artists for the rights to use the song, they didn’t do anything illegal – advertising is not illegal, I’m just pointing out that advertising is meant to sound like something it’s not.
Despite this beautiful ad, the Coca Cola company was not in the business of spreading Compassion throughout the land, what the company was really trying to do was to expand their market and help people all over the world feel good about drinking billions and billions of tons of sugary syrup. That’s what the Coca Cola company did – they didn’t create a world of Compassion, they created a world of sugar.
And around 1985, Coke switched from natural sugar to high fructose corn syrup – because the government subsidized corn crops in the United States, corn syrup became cheaper than using sugar.
In 1971, the year that ad was released, the CDC estimated 4 million Americans had diabetes, by 2015 more than 23 million Americans had diabetes – sugar in the food supply being the primary growth factor.
Advertising is an extremely sophisticated business, and believe me, they have a very good understanding of how to reach your Unconscious Mind, and in the case of the Coke ad, your Subconscious Mind, with their messaging.
But it has never reached the peak and volume it’s at now where we expect ads everywhere we look, we don’t even bother to complain about ads any more – we just expect them. All of our communication is saturated with advertisements, sales pitches, and appeals to your emotions. All of it. It’s on our televisions, it’s on our websites, it’s in our personal social media feed, there are ads in our video games, upgrades in our apps, its in our emails – we are swimming in messages of consumerism.
We are bombarded all day with messages telling us that we cannot achieve our full potential without this product or service. We cannot live our best life until we buy these clothes, drive this car, buy this life insurance policy, treat our family to a meal at this restaurant, and order Cokes for everyone.
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And if we’re not selling products to each other, we’re trying to sell ourselves to each other.
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The world is inundating you with messages that your happiness, your success, and your importance lies in consuming just one more thing, trying just one more system.
Let’s pause for a minute and take some deep breaths, and be sure to relax and engage your diaphragm. Relax your shoulders, and wherever you are, focus on slow deep breaths.
I mentioned earlier the effectiveness of the Coca Cola ad in 1971. You heard the Coca Cola version, but in a minute I’m going to play, not the ad – but the original song before Coke adapted their words to it.
It starts the same way, “I’d like to build the world a home and furnish it with love. Grow apple trees and honeybees, and snow white turtle doves.” The words paint such an ideal picture of the world.
The words of the song are based on Compassion, envisioning a perfect world. The real song doesn’t mention Coca Cola, it talks about peace, and love, and Compassion.
I ,mentioned what impressed me the about the Coke ad – it was the closing words, and that’s what I want to draw your attention to.
Here’s the link to the video of the Coke ad,
This is what Coke said at the end of their ad.
You can freeze the video at 1:04 where the following words scroll on the screen during the Super Bowl – the whole country watching, the whole world watching. This is what Coke said in that moment. This is the message they wanted the world to hear.
“On a hilltop in Italy, we assembled young people from all over the world to bring you this message from Coca Cola Bottlers all over the world. It’s the real thing. Coke”
Young people from all over the world – and they repeat all over the world twice. And to everyone all over the world, from our Compassionate hearts to yours – here is our message to humanity. “It’s the real thing. Coke.”
That is the level of advertising sophistication that is constantly assaulting your Mind. There is no doubt they understood the power of their message, and they used that power, not for the good of the world, not to spread Compassion, but to expand their market share. It looks like they are trying to spread Compassion, but that is advertising – it is not based on any values, only greed and self-interest.
Here’s the actual song. Notice that it’s not about Coca Cola – it’s about Compassion.
It’s a live performance so the audio quality is a little different, but listen to the words and the message of love.
It’s the song I hear. Compassion is what the world needs today. No ads, no agenda, just Compassion. Not some company manipulating the idea of compassion, just Compassion.
If we could recreate that moment when tens of millions of Americans were watching the Super Bowl, and millions more around the world, here’s what I think we should say.
I share a message of Compassion and Possibility with YOUNG PEOPLE ALL PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD, here’s a message from THE CYCLE OF MIND TO THE WHOLE WORLD. Compassion is the way to live your life. Compassion is what the world needs today. It’s the real thing.
Advertising and consumerism and materialism appeal to your emotions, they call you to buy and consume, but they do not call you to higher purpose, they are using your “I Want” impulse for their own self-interest. They’re playing your emotions for their profit.
They’re telling you that you can always be better, feel better, look better, if you just buy this one more thing. You always need one more thing. You are never enough.
But all this noise around you contains nothing of value. Consumerism will never give you purpose and meaning in your life. What you crave as a human being is to be part of something that is worthy of your efforts. You want to live a life that is important.
Therefore, build your future on Compassion. It is the one thing that is worth standing for, the one task that is worthy of your full effort and attention.
All your value lies within. Your treasure lies in your Life’s Purpose.
Consumerism is an empty philosophy that forces you to think from the reference point of your own self-interests, your own comfort, your own desires. This is how you have been programmed since your birth. They create a problem in your Mind, they implant a desire, a want, a need in your Mind, then you take action to fill the need.
When you focus on your self-interest, you separate yourself from the world. And when you focus on helping others, you draw the world closer to you.
What we truly crave as human beings is not more stuff and more status, what we truly crave as human beings is connection, purpose, joy, enthusiasm for a great idea. That is what makes life worth living.
We have created a distorted world of noise. But there is no value in all the noise that surrounds you. ALL YOUR VALUE LIES WITHIN.
If you choose to grow in self-awareness, if you shake yourself off Auto-Pilot, you can begin to ignore the noise around you, and find purpose in the people and circumstances around you. All your connections become more meaningful as you build your Self-Awareness.
You must try to completely separate yourself from the meaningless consumerism that has immersed you for decades. Leave all that behind, ignore the noise, and use your Mind to create your own compass toward value, meaning, cooperation and connection.
We see garbage all around us because our inner world is not yet guided by the compass of Compassion. When we focus our Mind on good thoughts, Mind leads us right to the good in the world. When we keep our Mind focused on our highest Life Purpose, all the noise disappears, and the things and the people we need for the next step on our journey reveal themselves to us.
You will never see the value in others, you will never appreciate the value that’s all around you, until you first value yourself.
All your value lies within. When you see the value in your inner world, you will see the value in the outer world.
“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, a man must first discipline and control his own mind.”
~ The Buddha
We have spent decades being tossed around in an ocean of media, consumerism, and sales pitches – with no values and no bearings. We have created a society that is unhinged from positive values and principles, so that is why the first step must be to get our own bearings, and guide ourselves with only positive Character, Values and Principles.
It has never been more difficult to let go of the outer world than it is right now, today. It has never been more difficult to follow the Buddha’s advice – to discipline and control your own Mind. It has never been more difficult, but I will argue it has never been more important than it is right now to build your Character from within.
Character, Values and Principles are most important.
Once you anchor your life on a solid foundation, then all the wonders and technologies that man has invented can be used to nurture the good in the world.
And please jump onto my Facebook Group where we are always talking about Mind. And I’ll be having some live Q&A sessions on Facebook very soon.
For those of you who may want to dig deeper into the Cycle of Mind System and begin taking control of your own thoughts, your first step would be to register for: “A Course in Self-Awareness.” That will get you started on the right path.