29 August 2013

An advertising agent comes clean

[In a parallel universe called Humility...]
I was really upset when I heard on Gold FM that Fonterra suspended operations in Sri Lanka. I was convinced that although this must be a dream come true for some, the bigger picture is pretty scary.  I was thinking, ‘the impact on Foreign Direct Investments for the country, jobs, global knowledge transfers, the concept of the free market economy, doing business in Sri Lanka, consumer perceptions, market forces etc etc’.  I whispered ‘God Bless!’ and I murmured, ‘I hope this is not really true’. 

I was emotional then, now I am sober.  I forgot, in the rush, that a lot of the things I fretted about are highly overrated. I forgot that I have happily purchased the lies about free markets and capitalism.  In my fascination with consumer perceptions, I forgot about consumer protection.  I talked of global knowledge transfer but I was silent on profits and value ferreted away from the country.  I talked about FDI but pretend not to know that for every dollar that comes in several dollars go out.  I know it’s not about love but about profit, but I didn’t say that. 
I say ‘big picture, big picture’ when in fact it is the small picture that I am upset about, the small picture being Fonterra having a bad time here in Sri Lanka.  You see, if the big picture really mattered to me, then I would re-think ‘development’, the flawed assumptions, the myths repainted as science, the poisons marketed as ambrosia and aphrodisiacs, the unnecessary that is branded ‘MUST’, and the lifestyles celebrated the creation and obtaining of which require processes that seriously compromise the heath of the planet. 

In the small picture, I see Fonterra quietly buying up potential ‘problems’, such as the Nutrition Society of Sri Lanka.  I see Fonterra skirting around regulations.  I see unethical advertising.  I see, even when the public is rightfully worried, Fonterra operating in very suspicious ways to clear stocks.  I see Fonterra talking about fearing for its staff and suspending operations and I tell the world ‘Oh, those poor workers and their jobs, poor things,’ but I should forget all that and think about the thousands upon thousands who even at this very moment may be downing something they should not and worse, making their kids ‘drink it all up!’  
As for perceptions, I feel really, really, really, really bad. You see, perceptions are not necessarily reflections of reality.  I am in the advertising business. That’s the business of creating perceptions, creating artificial needs, creating ‘musts’ and ‘must-haves’.  Fonterra ads make people believe that what they are drinking is as good as the stuff they would get if they locked lips on udder, but that’s not case, I know for a fact.  Fonterra has used celebrities to endorse its products, but I can bet you that the relevant celebrities are absolutely ignorant about what happens between lactation in New Zealand and the glass of milk given to the kids modeling in the tv commercial.  There’s a thing called unethical endorsement, but I have not gone around the country educating the people (in whose interest I claim to talk) about such things.   

Most of all, I wish to state here what I should have stated when I first offered opinion on Fonterra.  Had I stated what I am about to state, people would have known where I am coming from and why I was so upset. Here goes:
‘Yes of course I did Fonterra brand activation.’



Anonymous said...

Is this a tale of fiction or is an actual story?