An Utterly Inappropriate use of the Word ‘Deserve’

An Utterly Inappropriate use of the Word ‘Deserve’

I don’t even know where to start with this one.

I’m on holiday (vacation) in Georgia, USA, where apparently low-energy lightbulbs are a relatively new idea. I heard a radio ad (commercial – sorry, the British terms sound really weird now I’m here!) the other day extolling the virtues of low-energy bulbs and trying to persuade Americans to save the planet by buying them.

Except the marketing pitch didn’t focus on how much better they were, how much they would improve your life, or even how great they would be for the environment, it said this (brace yourself):

“In a world of flat-screen TVs and other gadgets, you deserve an energy-saving lightbulb.”

Now, I can’t imagine for one minute that anyone listening to that ad would think: ‘Hmm, you know, he’s right. I have all these other gadgets, it’s only right that I should have an energy-saving light bulb to enhance my life, too’, but that’s not the point.

Somebody somewhere, some marketing genius in an ivory tower, decided that the best way to appeal to his or her consumers was to tell them they deserve this item.

It doesn’t have to be more efficient or more effective. Trying to sell it as ‘the right thing to do’ clearly wouldn’t wash, the way to make people buy it, thought Marketing-Bod, is to tell them they deserve it.

And nobody stopped him/her.

Nobody asked anywhere down the line ‘Are you sure? How does a person deserve a particular kind of lightbulb? What does one have to do to be worthy of a good lightbulb? And can it really have to do with already owning a number of expensive, power-guzzling gadgets?’

Words fail me…

Contrast that with a lovely friend who today showed me round the dance studio she has been praying for for years. She has scores of pupils of all ages attending ballet, jazz, tap and hip-hop classes throughout the week in a beautifully fitted-out and decorated space.

Looking around her she said ‘I don’t deserve it, but it seems like God doesn’t mind that, and sometimes gives us blessings we don’t deserve.’

I love that attitude – it enables her to be joyously thankful for the blessings in her life, rather than always hankering after things she somehow thinks she’s entitled to. How wonderfully refreshing.

Picture Credit: ‘Fluorescent tube’ by jeancliclac (Creative Commons)

5 Comments On This Topic
  1. jon
    on Jan 8th at 3:23 am

    yep. there are too many ads i’ve come across where i found myself thinking, “really?!? was there some meeting where the advertising department pitched this idea, to which the (in my imagination) crowded boardroom erupted in wide smiles as the one in charge says, ‘brilliant! let’s run with it!'”? really?!? or it was some manager’s son’s idea, and all of the yes-men wouldn’t raise the flag of common sense? or maybe worse, we somehow buy into what the ad is saying… i think I just heard the lowest common denominator slip a few points…

    Reply
    • Jennie Pollock
      on Jan 10th at 2:10 pm

      Ha ha, I like your last line!
      Sadly, the reality is that people actually do think they deserve a certain lifestyle. This ad was weird because lightbulbs aren’t really a thing you might think you deserve, but what it was really saying was ‘You deserve all the flashy new gadgets AND a low electricity bill/a planet that will survive long enough for you to enjoy it – this lightbulb will solve all your problems’
      Gah!

      Reply
  2. Father Stephen
    on Jan 8th at 9:31 am

    I wonder what would happen if a church ran an ad campaign with the tag-line ‘Go on, accept salvation – you know you don’t deserve it’

    Reply

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