The Lost Child: Advertising and the Human Condition
A little girl strays from a party of sight-seers and becomes lost on a mountain, and immediately the whole mental perspective of the members of the party is changed.
Rapt admiration for the grandeur of nature gives way to acute distress for the lost child.
The group spreads out over the mountainside anxiously calling the child’s name and searching eagerly every secluded spot where the little one might chance to be hidden.
What brought about this sudden change?
The tree-clad mountain is still there towering into the clouds in breath-taking beauty…but no one notices it now.
All attention is focused upon the search for a curly-haired little girl not yet three years old and weighing less than thirty pounds.
Though so new and so small, she is precious to parents and friends than all the huge bulk of the vast and ancient mountain they had been admiring a few minutes before.
And in their judgement the whole civilized world concurs, for the little girl can love and laugh and speak and pray, and the mountain cannot.
It is the child’s quality of being that gives her worth. And it’s your client’s quality of being that give her worth.
It gives her worth over a Mercedes Benz, 35-foot yacht, snorkeling in Belize. It gives her worth even over a mortgage payment, a retirement fund or college savings.
Because she has her own mortgage to pay, her own savings to worry about. But it’s more than that. Deeper.
She’s got her host of fears, worries, anxieties. Personal failures to overcome, day-to-day battles to combat and a host of dreams she nurtures.
Just like a three year old girl. Which in some ways she still is. She just doesn’t trust nearly as many people she did before.
But there’s something more.
Hugh McLeod, in his Hughtrain Manifesto, said this:
We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.
Last Sunday he went on to say this:
We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies and products in our lives that make it easier to do so. That is human nature. Some people find the whole “Marketing as Religion” angle a bit squeamish. Some people much prefer the straight-talking “This is what you get, this is how much it costs” way of doing business. I don’t see anything wrong with that, if it’s working for them.
But one thing I’ve noticed over time is, the search for personal meaning is a never-ending journey. It’s something that all normal, healthy people share. And the way said meaning is found is mostly through Love. And Love is found not just in the intoxicating blur of romantic, sexual love, but in an endless myriad of ways. Most of them pretty ordinary and everyday.
That search for meaning I call the “human condition.”
Religion and philosophy have been its main sources for an answer for thousands of years. 300 years ago philosophy dominated. Mid 18th Century, psychology emerged and peaked and now advertising reigns supreme at the 21st Century.
Advertising is the “new humanism”: The discipline to quiet that inner groaning.
We don’t turn out theologians or philosophers any more. Even psychologists are having a hard time. In fact psychologists are turning into advertisers.
We say “It’s all about you. How can we crack your code?”
Because it wants to be cracked, coddled and acknowledged.
We are here to find meaning. To help other people to do the same.
Can you change your vision so you no longer see the mountain but the little girl? No longer see wealth and power, but the customer?
Recognize the deeper need you can satisfy for someone–like trust or companionship or meaning–and you will become a well liked person. And business will be easy for you.
You have potential. I believe in you.