Friday, May 12, 2006

Advertising Works

We are learning more about the effects of advertising than ever before.

It is amazing how many things you don't actually "need."

I do not actually need to go out to eat once or twice a week. Prior to living here we all believed that a trip to Wendy's or Applebee's or Chili's once per week was required. All the commercials helped to keep us believing it.

I want my baby back baby back baby back ... Chili's babyback ribs... Chili's babyback ribs.

We do not actually need to try the newest version of Captain Crunch with the mauve and teal colored berries.

We do not need the new Elmo toy that squirts water while doing the Hokey Pokey and reciting the National Anthem.

We do not need the soundtrack to the popular movie being advertised every twleve seconds. We do not need to try the "new" twist on soda pop, the cherry - vanilla - hot pepper - diet & carb free soda.

Advertising works. Here is how we know:

We have not felt any burning desires to go get a bunch of junk that we did not know existed prior to seeing the commercial, the billboard, or hearing the radio advertisement. We do not weekly come up with a list of Target items that we must run into town to get, or else!

Going out to eat is a great treat ... but as it turns out, it is not actually a necessity. Who knew?

Also, there is not much advertising here at all ... compared to what we are inundated with in the States. A few billboards and a few spray painted ideas on the sides of cement walls, that is it.

But, recently we witnessed an ad campaign like no other. "Digicel" entered the cell phone market here in Haiti. They are genius marketers. Everywhere you look there are red and white signs and banners and ads. The advertising all showed up seemingly overnight all over the city. They rented a ton of office spaces and painted the outside of each one red. They are experiencing lines that go around the block. Many of the people in line don't even know what's going on inside. We see people wearing Digicel hats and t-shirts all along the highway heading to our village.

Maybe the hype is because of their massive ad campaign, maybe it is because the other two cell phone options are a joke. Either way, they found a way to create in the mind of the consumer a NEED for new cell phone service. People in Haiti are clamoring for a device that will probably not work very well, that they've lived without up until now, and will cost more than feeding a family of four for a week.

Everywhere you go, advertising works.