Lord of the buys: Myth making or body copy?

February 2, 2008

Many of us believe if we are pious, we go to Heaven. Lifetimes of Sundays are spent actively pursuing that goal -A lifetime of Sundays acting on belief. Imagine if ‘church’ were a ‘store’ and countless millions of people believed -for the very sanctity of their souls- that they had to go there every week for the rest of their life. That store would be doing pretty well now wouldn’t it? Maybe even better than Starbucks.

Acting on belief is more than a periodic spasm of behavior. It is the creation of routine. It is what turns a person into a consumer. And that’s the business of advertising, is it not? We create believers. Have to. Miracles won’t happen in the marketplace unless there are a multitude of true believers.

To survive brands need myths. Yes, products and services are bought and sold regardless of conviction. (A hungry mother does not quibble. Every man has his price.) But if products and services want to become transcendent they need to become something more than what they actually are. Apple is more than a computer. And Nike…

Because of his compelling rhetoric and charismatic persona, a lowly sheepherder became no less than a messiah -his creed perhaps the world’s most followed religion. Because of compelling rhetoric and his charisma a mere basketball player became a God and a lowly gym shoe his wings. His creed is now a clarion call for everyone who has ever broken a sweat: Just do it. It is believed God can walk on water. And so, donning his shoes, can we! Or so we are led to believe. LED TO BELIEVE.

Compare the following verses:



Are they really that different? They’re powerful calls to action, made even more powerful by belief. With them, consumers have a reason to believe. We’re not just buying something. We’re buying into something. And Isn’t that what makes a big idea… big?

Just as the Israelites came to worship a false idol, the golden calf, coveting a gold lion has become symbolic of creative excellence. Given we are charged with creating religions for our brands maybe these awards shows give us exactly what we deserve.

One Response to “Lord of the buys: Myth making or body copy?”

  1. Mark Trueblood said


    Thanks for pointing this out to me, i couldn’t agree more. I feel like “advertising=mythmaking” is how we can bridge the gap between those in this business with creative aspirations and those in this business with results aspirations (whatever that means.) Profound insight, powerful imagery, strong storytelling, and a simple message executed in many, many forms is what makes for a compelling myth with longevity. Sounds alot like good advertising to me.

    We can pull much insight into how to do our jobs better from religions, spiritualities, philosophies, and mythologies. These days, I actually get alot more inspiration from studying science fiction and philosophy than i do the award shows, and my work is better as a result. As creatives, I think we can bring inspiration, excitement, and a feeling of connectedness to people’s lives. I know many will scoff at that, but if you look at all the strongest brands, they do that in one way or another. We can be an inspirational force in this world. If you believe as I do, please send a love offering of 39.95 or more to… (haha)


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