The Great Disconnect: Advertising, Psychology, and Real Life

I thought, “There is some discipline in psychology that contributes to ads like this.   Some psychologists are sitting in a boardroom somewhere, presenting data on consumer reactions to different scenarios.  How interesting!  I wonder what it would be like, working in a job like that.  I bet it pays well.”

I bet I would love a job like that.  Until I had to think about how manipulative the ads were, based on my research instructing the ad people on how to make Joe and Jane Public cry.

Could I do it?  How high of a price would I have to be paid to just do my job and not think about the ramifications of it?  I honestly don’t know.

I mean, it’s not like my work as a therapist, where decisions could make or break someone’s life/heart/future.  So…I am undecided.  If I look at it comparatively, I could probably do that job if it meant I could have a reasonably comfortable existence.  Um, the life I still stupidly believe I can have.  And most likely cannot, at 59.

So, table that.  It’s not all that relevant to today’s topic, anyway.

The campaign probably cost a great deal of money.  I don’t know how much.  I don’t even know if those were real Walmart people in the ads – I kind of suspect they were, if for no other reason than they are cheaper to hire than actors.

Aside #2: When I worked in the call center, the company did produce ads using the actual workers. As long as they were young, good-looking, and minorities.  They didn’t pay extra for people to be in the ads, I guess figuring the bragging rights were pay enough.  So I think maybe this practice is widespread.

Ok, so that covers that area.  Massive outlay of cost – someone’s got to pay all those marketing people, right?  And filming, production, direction, editing…oh and the focus groups/survey companies used to test the reactions of consumers.

But, you see, Walmart – and all “things” with large amounts of money at their disposal, and that includes individual people – has the power and the wherewithall to actually make themselves the kind of company they try to convince all of us that they are.

Considering how many people Walmart employs – 2.2 million people worldwide, with 1.3 million of those being Americans in the US (“Where in the World is Walmart”, Walmart website, no date given but current as of May, 2015) – if they impacted their workers in the ways they claim they do, they wouldn’t actually need to run an ad campaign to tell us about it.

Aside #3: Chances are, with that many people being impacted in a startingly good way like that, people would be yelling all over the internet about it, there would be long lines at the Walmart personnel offices, and the food stamp program would take a noticeable hit in terms of loss of applicants.   In short, we would hear about it.  No ad campaign needed.

But, in the long run, the ad campaign is cheaper than actually making their employees’ lives this wonderful, Disney-esque utopia, because to do that, Walmart would have to at least pay their workers a lot more money than they do now.

And they would have to spend money for programs for their workers like daycare, health insurance (or their own employee health clinics), accommodations for disabilities (when was the last time you saw a disabled person working at Walmart?), and so on.

I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t hurt them too much in the pocket.  But…investors and executives wouldn’t like it at all.  You know, the people who are getting rich from their association with Walmart.  Board of directors type people, the people we don’t hear about.  It’s not just Sam and his family anymore.

It won’t happen.  This is what made me cry, literally (oh yes I did).  I know it won’t happen.

It’s easier to build up this whole myth of “Walmart as good guy” than to actually be that “good guy”.

And the world still spins, and people still shop at Walmart (me, included), and the Walmart executives sleep well at night in their big houses. and they drive to work in their cars that cost more than most people’s dwellings do, and everything stays the same.  They probably hold pep rallies for their workers – most companies like that do, I’ve worked for some – in order to foster this false “we are family” idea.

Because they know.  They know this is what people long for, what people think is right, what people believe from watching all those inspirational movies from the 1940s and beyond.

Suckers all, like me.

Today’s weirdness comes from Discovery News (“Creepy Clown Sighting Surfaces in Chicago Cemetery”, Benjamin Radford, Discovery News website, 7/27/2195).  Apparently a couple captured a clown on their mobile phone video climbing a cemetery fence and then waving at passers-by (WARNING: those with coulophobia might want to give this a pass).

And today’s recommendation is for an indie movie called “Spring”, and it’s one of those subtle horror movies I love so much.  Guy flies to Italy, meets and falls in love with a woman who has a very dark secret (hint: she’s not entirely human).   No, she’s not a vampire or a serial killer, you’ll just have to watch it and see.  As will I.  I have no idea, aside from renting the DVD, how to actually go about viewing this film.  I don’t have a DVD player so…someone let me know if they find it on Netflix or something.

Aside #4: See? This is just one of many reasons I really want to go back to work, to be able to do simple things like rent a freakin’ DVD!  I will probably bribe Nancy with a pizza so we can watch it on her TV.

Be good.  Be kind.  Don’t be like me – live the life you really want, if you can.




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