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POV : Lloyd Tronco - Of High End SUVs and Delusions of Need

(From an old posting)

In my FB account, I recently posted a few pictures of a joyride I took with the kids at the Fort checking out the offerings from Land Rover. From the entry level Defender 4x4 to the Supercharged V8 Range Rover, it was cool checking out how these 4 wheeled creations could handle higher than 30 degree climbs, rolls, and descents.

Then again while being seated at the front and seeing the horizon wobble in varied angles in relation to the dashboard and hood, it made me think of how marketing and advertising has also disoriented people to believe that we actually need these kinds of stuff. While on board the latest Freelander 2, I couldn't help but recall the wisdom of Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) in the Fight Club. Tyler says,...

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy sh*t we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very p*****d off."

This is an indictment to us who are in advertising and marketing. We are thus projected to be the Pied Pipers of consumerism leading men to lay up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. I use these words because I am reminded of the writings of Henry David Thoreau, (best known for his statement that, "The mass of men,lead lives of quiet desperation.") that, "By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal. It is a fool's life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before."

Think of this, while writing this piece, I am glancing at the brochure handed to me yesterday stating boldly, LAND ROVER - Integral to the Urban Landscape . I salute the copywriters! A job well done. But what are we doing really? Now I am made to believe that this SUV is really a necessity. On what does this claim of necessity rest? On a rational calculation? Maybe. Maybe not.

Then again there are people (maybe those who were sucked into buying a Land Rover or Range Rover yesterday using the PhP 100,000.00 voucher given to them by the bank who tied-up with Land Rover for this event), who insist that cold reason drives them to buy what they buy. These are the ones who were sucked into the sales pitch spiked with baseless fears. We are in marketing and advertising so we know this. We provoke you to buy not just a Defender 4x4 which has a manual transmission but the better priced LR Discovery 4 or Range Rover Sport not by presenting detailed balance sheets of advantages and disadvantages, but by arousing fears of slipping off the road, climbing a steep mountainside, maneuvering the side of a hill. Hey, I grew up in Negros and went to the sugar farm often with my dad. We were on board a Willys Eisenhower Jeep and I tell you, those 4x4 gears were hardly touched! So the chances of using the automatic knob settings for suspension and traction become much slimmer. Anyway, on with those baseless fears... road accidents, or the urban jungle and by stoking the flame on timid souls desires for the appearance of adventure and power.

And while that event yesterday was entitled "Safari Friday", the typical SUV will never be taken on safari; that its four-wheel drive is useless in Metro Manila where it is nearly always driven; that it is a danger to other drivers who cannot see over or around it; that it is a gas hog and an exorbitant source of air pollution; and that if the point is to vacation on dirt roads, it is cheaper and saner to maybe rent one for a few days - that is if you actually want to go off road. All these rational considerations are quickly swept aside by the arousal of fears of body-mangling collisions and the desire to be seen coming up the Greenbelt or Rockwell driveway riding high and in style.

Such fears and desires create delusions of need. A delusion is a mistaken belief that is so strongly motivated—usually by some fear or desire—that it is highly resistant to change, even in the face of strong contrary evidence. This motivation is what distinguishes delusions from simple mistakes. Delusions are mistakes in which we are heavily invested, which have a high value in our psychic economy.

Delusions of need are the particular kind of delusion that arises from a motivation to discount as unworkable all alternatives to a given course of action. The given course then appears as a need: The thinking might go something like this: "I need my Land Rover. I can't drive a smaller car; with the kids and all their stuff there wouldn't be enough space. And besides small cars are too dangerous." Many alternatives are here discounted: reducing the amount of stuff the kids carry, maybe even the amount of stuff they own; using a smaller car with a roof rack; finding them things to do within shorter distance; using the money saved by owning a smaller car to arrange things so that the family can spend less time on the road, thus reducing the risk from auto accidents … and so on. A person in the grip of a delusion of need discounts such alternatives, not thoughtfully and rationally, but from fear or desire. And in a marketing event like yesterday's wherein it was a tie-up between the bank and the SUV dealer, I have to admit, it is more of desire.

I should know. We should know. It is desire. We are in media. We are in advertising :-)


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