Tag Archives: Advertising

The Unsung Heroes

(Image by Ashley Ma.)

(Image by Ashley Ma.)

Is there such a thing as a truly unselfish act?

I don’t know. I also don’t care.

I’ll let the psych community and people smarter than me debate the merits of selfish and unselfish behavior in society.

If a human being performs an unselfish act that helps another person, and the helper did so out of self-interest in order to feel good or be perceived as unselfish, does that somehow lessen the good thing that happened as a result of their action?

I stumbled on this video a couple days ago. Thai Life Insurance made it about nine months ago (I’m a little late to the party.) I don’t mean to intentionally advertise for this insurance firm, but if you’re interested in getting more life insurance from Bangkok, knock yourself out, I guess.

It’s a touching video. I liked it. I watched it three times.

Here it is:

I work in marketing, and I feel this accomplishes what the best ads in the world have always accomplished: It made you feel something.

But more importantly, it got me thinking again about what we’re actually living for.

What do I really want?

People chase money and career success and social connection and travel and new experiences and nice cars and big houses and many other things.

That’s what many spend their lives pursuing. Trying to acquire or achieve as many things on their “I Want This” List as possible.

People do this because they want to feel good. They want to be happy.

Out of the Clear Blue Sky

That’s the name of a documentary I watched last night.

On Sept. 11, 2001, a jet exploded when bad men flew it into the upper floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York. A large financial firm that oversaw the majority of U.S. bond trading at the time, Cantor Fitzgerald, had offices on the top five floors of that building.

Nearly 700 of the company’s employees—virtually everyone who had made it into the office that morning—died from the fire, or jumping out a window, or from the tower’s eventual collapse.

The company’s CEO—Howard Lutnick—wasn’t in the office at the time of the crash because he had taken his son to his first day of kindergarten.

Lutnick had EVERYTHING. The top job at a major financial firm. He was one of the most respected and feared men on Wall Street. He had a gorgeous wife and children. And more money then you could ever want.

It would seem he achieved the very best of all these things we’re programmed to chase in our lives. The things on our “I Want This” List.

But on Sept. 11, 2001, he suddenly became responsible for trying to save a company who had just lost 80-90 percent of its workforce. He lost his brother. Dozens of friends. Hundreds of people he knew.

Some 700 families were turning to him for help.

And in that moment, his gorgeous family, and all his career achievements, and his massive bank account amounted to very little in the context of his ability to feel happy.

Howard Lutnick had everything we all want. And in an instant became the very last person any of us would want to be.

I am not Howard Lutnick. But on paper, I had what I had always been chasing. A gorgeous family. A nice home. A good job. Friends. Family.

But then adulthood delivered hardships. The kind none of us are immune from and rarely see coming.

Everything fell apart.

And then I didn’t have a family anymore.

In the aftermath of the divorce, I could not have felt worse. I had never respected feelings. Because they’re fleeting and fickle and people make a lot of bad decisions based on their feelings.

But everything changed inside me when I felt just how low and miserable and tortured a person can feel in the midst of trauma.

It wasn’t until that moment that I could understand how someone could ever take their own life. We’re always like: How!? Why!? And if you’ve never felt THAT miserable you can’t understand how or why. For some people, shutting off that pain sounds like a drink of water after days in the desert.

The World Needs Unsung Heroes

Giving just to give. Helping just to help. Loving just to love.

Without wanting or expecting or demanding anything in return, including acknowledgment or admiration.

That’s the work of an unsung hero.

No one knows but you.

The Thai Life ad says it all and it bears repeating:

“What does he get in return for doing this every day? He gets nothing. He won’t be richer. Won’t appear on TV. Still anonymous. And not a bit more famous.

“What he does receive are emotions. He witnesses happiness. Reaches a deeper understanding. Feels the love. Receives what money can’t buy. A world made more beautiful.

“And in your life? What is it that you desire most?

“Believe in Good.”

Even if it’s selfish. Simply because you want to feel better, too. Do it anyway. Because that’s why we’re here. To do heroic work. Even if it’s quiet and understated and no one ever knows about it.

The pursuit of happiness begins with giving more than we take.

And believing in good.

And then doing some.

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Advertising and Kids

seen on tv

I know how to stimulate the economy.

Not create job growth, necessarily. This plan would almost certainly not address the United States’ breathtaking national deficit.

And it probably won’t increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product because I’m pretty sure most of the money would be spent on products manufactured in foreign countries.

But here it is: Give a stimulus check—say, $1,500—to every kindergartner in the country and let them spend it however they want.

I didn’t say it was brilliant. I just said it would stimulate the economy.

Would you believe my only economics class was my junior year of high school and that I was smoking a lot of pot during that period of my life?

Highly implausible, I know.

As Seen on TV

My five-year-old son is officially the most-impressionable person I have ever met.

Because I don’t like television commercials, I tend to record things I want to watch on my DVR and view the programs delayed so I can fast-forward them.

It has gotten so bad with my son, that he chastises me when I fast-forward commercials during children’s programming, which is always some really colorful ad showing a bunch of kids having an amazing time with some toy or bad-for-your-health snack food.

He loves commercials. And he believes every single thing he sees in them.

Last night, he saw a commercial for Snackeez! They are colorful dual-compartment cups which the TV advertisement claims will reduce messes in vehicles and living rooms.

The advertisement wasn’t on screen for 10 seconds when…

“Hey dad! Can I get some Snackeez!?”

“You seriously want one of those?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because they’re cool.”

“You think Snackeez! look cool?”

“Yes.”

“Dude. There’s no way I’m ordering those.”

“Awwww!”

There’s no way that’s true. The eliminate-messes part. I could attach a vacuum hose to my son’s chin, and I guarantee he could still get crumbs and pieces of food on any floor space within a four-foot radius. He almost never spills drinks. But he almost ALWAYS gets crumbs and shit everywhere. It’s uncanny.

The commercial shows a bunch of kids just spilling stuff everywhere. On light carpet, of course. Just four idiot kids spilling all of their stuff while playing video games or watching TV on the living room floor with grape juice and chocolate milk and other dark liquids I’m certain every responsible parent would put in the hands of kids in such a spot. *shakes head*

Snackeez! cups will save the day. Don’t worry. Order now, and you can have a second $9.95 cup (plus shipping and handling) absolutely free! Act fast before your kids spill stuff all over the floor!

It dawned on me just how serious the problem was this morning while getting him ready for school.

“Hey dad! Can we get an I spy bird feeder?”

“What’s an I spy bird feeder?”

(He meant the My Spy Birdhouse, it turns out. I was previously unaware of this thing.)

“You stick it to the window outside, then you watch the birds from inside your house.”

“Do you want to get every single thing you see on TV?”

“Yes.”

“As a general rule, it’s a bad idea to order things you see on TV. Most of that stuff isn’t very nice, kiddo. Do you get a second bird feeder for free if you order in the next 10 minutes?”

“No! You get it in a package at the end of the day!”

“Nevermind. We’ll talk about this later.”

Get Rich Quick

Some people do get rich quick. They win the lottery. They start a business that takes off. They accept Facebook shares of stock instead of $60,000, and seven years later are worth $500 million.

Everyone wants to get rich without putting in the time.

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to believe strongly in the get-rich-slowly method. That way is GUARANTEED to succeed. We’re all going to be older someday. And we’re all going to have regrets about things we did and did not do. I hope I’m disciplined enough to at least ponder those regrets with a large bank account because I slowly and systematically put money away for Future Old Matt.

One night in college, I was sitting alone in my apartment really late, high from smoking a bowl. (That’s marijuana for all you responsible types.)

It must have been 2001 or 2002. I saw an ad for the get-rich-quick scheme: The Internet Treasure Chest. They promised to refund your money if you weren’t satisfied and rich within 60 days.

I can’t lose!

I ordered it for $100 (which was a lot of money for me when I was in college.)

A few days later, it showed up. I left all the boxes of crap just laying by my computer and never did anything with it.

And that’s the entire story.

I gave the Internet Treasure Chest people $100.

*shakes head*

My Son in the Future

Is this something that’s universal to all kids?

And are these impressionable tendencies I’m seeing now something I’ll have to worry about as the years advance?

I don’t want to wake up in 10 years to find my son on the cover of USA Today because he tried to rob something:

btf usa today “Why would you do that?!”

“Austin called me a chicken!”

“Oh. Right. Do you have any idea how much it’s going to cost to get you out of this?”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.”

“How’s that?”

“I ordered the Internet Treasure Chest 2.0 last night! It’s guaranteed to make you rich in 60 days or they give you your money back!”

“… ”

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