love & advertising

IMG_3360I am a pretty tech savvy person and I love all my Apple products. I am, however, a little over the incessant coverage of their upcoming unveiling of the Next Greatest Thing Ever on September 9th. I don’t know if I can continue to read my blog feed – which is almost exclusively tech-related – if all anyone is going to talk about is Apple and how it’s not going to change the world.

On a related note, I did recently acquire – through my fiancé, but we live together so I’m going to pretend I had something to do with it – a really sexy stereo receiver that allows us to use AirPlay technology to have iTunes duels. I woke up this morning and he showed me how he can tell iTunes to magically turn on the stereo receiver and play The Commodores from his laptop, which is cool enough, though I couldn’t help asking him, “I wonder if the iMac’s iTunes can overrule your laptop’s iTunes.” Sure enough, the iMac won out.

But does the iMac win out every time? In Apple’s world, it does. We tested that postulate on the receiver. Not surprisingly, in the actual world the iMac did not win out every time. My fiancé‘s laptop and his Elton John eventually defeated my Aimee Mann. (Note: she was second in the alphabet after Abba – which I didn’t want to hear – she’s not first in my musical tastes.) Does this mean Apple is lying to us, or does it simply mean that we’re all subject to excellent marketing campaigns and that it’s easier to believe everything we’re told? I personally am too busy to disbelieve everything, so I have tended in recent months to just accept what advertisers tell me but refuse to buy their products, since I’m putting all my money into companies that sell illegal surgeries to people vacationing in third world countries.

It’s certainly easier to believe everything we’re told, but there’s some debate about whether or not advertising actually works. I traffic ads for a living and I’m still on the fence about it. But then along comes a company like Apple, whose products are able to deliver on its hype. This is what good marketing is all about. It’s not enough to have cool ads – you actually have to have a good product. You know, like cigarettes.

The same equation applies, I imagine, to online dating. Your OK Cupid profile can be really awesome and funny and feature an artfully taken selfie, but when push to comes to shove and you finally meet the future love of your life in person, you need to deliver. You need to be an iPhone, not a Kindle Fire phone. You need to offer people something they want instead of trying to sell them on something only you want. You need to be a Honey Crisp apple, not the mealy Macintosh given out in college cafeterias and prisons and frequently put on sale for $0.89 a pound.

I’m not saying we can or should put a dollar price on ourselves – that would be supremely creepy – but we should think of ourselves as our own best commodities. I’ll give you a recent example. My fiancé and I have been shopping for wedding photographers. We met with one on Saturday and fell in love with him. Unfortunately you can’t marry two people, so we’re going to have to hire him to do his job instead. In truth, we were already enamored of his talent before we even met him. His website is demonstrative of good marketing. After we met him in person, though, we knew he was The One. He was confident about the things he excelled at, which happened to align with what we were looking for. His “selfies” were taken with Canon L lenses, but more importantly, they were good. He delivered on his promises.

We should all strive to do the same, whether we’re running a tech company, pretending to be designer fruit, or charging an exorbitant amount of money to take pictures of brain-dead people on their wedding day. Learn how to be your best self. Or learn how to fake it. Either way, people will probably be fooled and you’ll be better off, which is what life is all about.

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