“But When it Comes to Investing…”

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Did you ever see this Prudential ad from a couple years back? It features some fun footage from the Candid Camera TV show, back in 1962.

What’s so interesting about the ad is not the basic lesson in sociology — though it’s pretty good, I admit — but the punchline at the end. For the company is literally banking on the fact that it is indeed human nature to follow others despite the closing’s apparent message to the contrary. For the whole point of advertising is to sway the public’s opinions and actions — whether it’s to get us to take off our hats or give our money to this as opposed to that investment firm.

They’re hoping that, when it comes to investing, you’re no different from those poor guys on the elevator — you know, the ones who no doubt felt like they chose to turn around. Coz if you’re the only one — the truly lone wolf, the rugged individual — who opts to go with Prudential, well…, that doesn’t help them, now does it.

Given his interest in understanding myth as something that carries two messages, one smuggled in by the other and which might even contradict the other, I think Roland Barthes would have appreciated this ad.

semiology

“Come and See the Contradictions Inherent in the System”

Picture 1Looking for an example of how not to study religion? Then consider the case of hypocrisy that recently swept through the internet. Continue reading ““Come and See the Contradictions Inherent in the System””

Keep Your Stick on the Ice

Picture 6Each New Year’s day, since 2008, two National Hockey League teams face-off — as they say — in an outdoor game that’s called the Winter Classic. This year, the first to include a Canadian team (another older but more infrequently played series, called The Heritage Classic, has pitted two Canadian teams against each other), was between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs won 3-2 in a shoot-out after the overtime sessions didn’t decide it. (Go Leafs.)

The thing that’s interesting about this game is the way that it quite successfully markets nostalgia, such as the custom-made vintage uniforms they all wear and the “old timers” game between long retired NHL players that’s also part of the weekend’s activities — a point nicely identified by a friend on Facebook during the game, who noted the wonderful contradiction between the old school “leather” look of the goalie pads and gloves but the modern high-tech helmets and visors the players were all still wearing. Continue reading “Keep Your Stick on the Ice”

The Natural Look

Picture 5So opened The National Post‘s September 10, 2013, article on the Canadian province of Quebec’s recent (and for some, rather controversial) Charter of Quebec Values, along with the accompanying picture of the Premiere, Pauline Marois, joined by Bernard Drainville, the Minister Responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship. Continue reading “The Natural Look”