Advertising Ordinary Things

Advertising is an art, attracting some of the greatest minds in design, writing, film, and music—pooling their talents to send a message: this product is worth your time, attention, and money.

At its best, advertising shows us some new innovation, or reinforces the values we already care about, rhapsodizing on the joy of living here, today, among these products and services.  As a result, we are constantly buying new things because we believe they are cool and exciting and beautifully designed and outstandingly functional and useful for our lives.  Great advertising copy and videos tell us this everyday.  But, with so much energy and talent poured into new things, it’s often hard to appreciate what we already have.  

I’ve found that the best and most interesting commercials are the ones for products I already have.  For example: I’m a big listener of podcasts, and the ads on the 5by5 podcast network are incredibly effective.  But the ones I enjoy the most are those for SquareSpace.  It was just such an ad that introduced me to the company that now hosts this website.  As a paying customer, it’s now incredibly fulfilling to hear SquareSpace advertisements: I not only learn new uses for it, I am continually reminded of the enduring value of what I already have.  

Advertisements are about value, and we are constantly searching for value.  But when today’s creative minds talk about value in advertising, they only direct our attention to what’s new—rather than what’s here.  This affects our purchasing decisions, and it also affects our happiness.  There’s nothing wrong, of course, with buying something because of an advertisement—but it’s so much nicer to enjoy something you already have because of advertisement.  First of all, you don’t have to go through the extra step of getting it, so your enjoyment can be instant.  More importantly, you can save your money for things that will lead to more lasting happiness like a trip to a new place, or an investment in learning a new skill, or a holiday with friends.  Buying—not things, but experiences.  

So how about this: Why don’t we create a website called “Advertising Ordinary Things.”  It would literally be composed of great advertising copy, great design and music and imagery combined to rhapsodize on the enduring value of things you already have.  What kind of objects?  An ordinary pencil.  A pen.  Paper.  Shoelace.  Cup.  Staple.  Keys.  Carpet.  Color.  Birds.  Frizzy hair.  Tissues.  Crosswalks.  Overcast skies.  Anything and everything that makes life worth living in some small way.  The site could take submissions from the most creative minds, showcasing their work and celebrating—reinvigorating—the lives we already live.  It might begin with marketing copy and graphic ads, but grow to include flashy commercials—even some produced by great directors—all aimed at returning that spark of magic to the extraordinary objects that already surround us.