Friday, December 14, 2007

Green in 3 dimensions

I created the web information architecture for a Green products and services company a few months back, and today I got to see the beta output. Mixed emotions. More on this later, as the site has not officially launched.

We went out to dinner tonight and we talked about informing versus advertising. I think that we agreed that with advertising, there is always an added thing, some kind of zest that we sort of pretend is added to the user when s/he buys the product. Advertising is ideational "value -added" content. Coke = refreshment, not just the drink.

It's easy to label this kind of advertising is bullshit. But there is something in it. We do want more than a product. We want the key to our existential predicament and anxiety, and this forms everything we aspire to. We want life in all its dimensions, not just a brown sugary drink, or a website that sells me stuff.

As Hugh MacLeod so beautifully put it in his Hughtrain, the market for something to believe in is infinite. Conventional branding and advertising capitalizes on the search for this quest as it emphasizes Godliness in many forms - and in a kind of belief in the importance of peak or aha moments, in refreshment, in elegance, in timelessness.

Glimpses of contentment are of course ephemeral, which works very well in a consumer driven economy. The glass was giving me refreshment. Now I've consumed it. Can't wait to be thirsty again. Hell maybe I'll have another right now.

The problem is, of course, that these same exalted products are in some cases killing our life support systems.

When we actually want the truth, and live by the truth, and believe in the primacy of truth, advertising might be hard to characterize at first.

What if it were unfashionable to believe that ignorance of global warming or that our part in it is at all OK?

What would advertising look like if the value added by advertising actually motivated and supported people in living the truth. Would it still be advertising?

And what would the business model that supports all this look like?


Debs said...

nice post! And thanks for linking to me so i could discover your blog

John Dumbrille said...

Your welcome, debs, whoever you are. happy holidays