Monday, December 15, 2008

We're in the Money

As happens during this season, several members of the extended Mambo family braved the recent inclement weather in search of wine, companionship, and the meaning of happiness at a local restaurant. Before the evening was over, the waiter had become engaged in the discussion, and declared himself an “Aristotelean” on the matter. We’re not sure what that meant, or what was the ultimate conclusion of the entire effort, but we left the bar pretty confident that wine and companionship was one route to happiness.

Apparently our discussion spread quickly to the offices of the Wall Street Journal, for on Friday morning the careful reader may have noticed an article entitled “Designating Shortcuts to Happiness” on the Media & Marketing page with the lead

Be happy. That's one message marketers are trying out, with ads evoking warmth and good cheer, as they cast about for ways to appeal to consumers amid a recession.

The article covers recent campaigns from Carnival Cruise Lines and Best Buy that offers consumers emotional relief from the present economic uncertainty in these marketers’ embrace.

Several marketing wizards offer practical but cautionary advice on the use of such tactics.

To do it right, he says, marketers have to be specific about how their products offer happiness, whether it's a cigar that brings comfort to the smoker or a toy that makes the consumer smile.

And later another expert’s opinion which is as insightful as it is terse

It's tricky to pull off

On the subject of terse, thanks to Miguel for bringing this article to our attention. He would have posted it himself, but has committed to a responsible thrift of words. The link to the full article is here.

But is this all there is to be said on consumerism and happiness during an economic recess/contract/depress-ion?

We may not know from Aristotle, but we turn to Berkeley for a final word on the subject—not George, Busby. A few generations ago, people took their solace from their economic woes at the movie palace with the Gold Diggers of 1933. It contains a masterpiece of choreography and camera work in the number “We’re in the Money”. Berkeley created beauty with the geometry of a chorus line. The excess of his productions often hid his subversive personality. Is irony an ingredient that Berkeley baked into this treat?

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