Imagine you’re one of Aristotle’s disciples. One day, he leads you and several others to the market (that's him on the right). All the merchants have their wares on display – haute couture togas, leather-bound copies of the latest epic poem, designer torches for setting your sacrificial animals on fire. And the masses are lining up to buy these things. Booth after booth, it’s the Times Square of ancient Greece. And this is what Aristotle says to you:
“Look at all of the things I don’t need.”
I was in Baltimore a couple months ago. I stayed right on the Harbor, and as I stepped outside my hotel I could see a Barnes & Noble, Hard Rock Café, ESPN Zone, P.F. Chang’s, Williams Sonoma, and a California Pizza Kitchen. I saw the exact same sight in San Francisco a while ago, and I can look out of my office window and see pretty much the same thing along Michigan Avenue.
“Look at all of the things I don’t need.”Yet I’m in advertising. I spend my days trying to convince people to go to the market. To drop their drachmas and buy the latest high-end discus. Is there a conflict here? No one really needs a Porsche. Or an iPhone. Or vitamin-infused water. Right?
I’ll tell you how I’ve made my peace with this. But I’d like to hear your ideas first. Any takers?