Saturday, January 8, 2011

End of the World or Greatest Marketing Ploy Ever?!

Today, as I was browsing through a few news stories, I came across an article on the magnetic shifting that is occurring at the "poles". It is a common thing that occurs and every few years, airports need to rename their runways to reflect the shift. Of course, the news article failed to say this until it was near the end of a 1500 word article and then it was in the "by the way" tongue in cheek style that seems to be common place in newspapers and in online news columns.
I barely raised an eyebrow at the fear mongering that I saw in the other 1400 words but I decided to scroll down and take in a few comments. The fever that had been sparked by this article was astonishing. Everyone was calling for the end of the world and this is a sure sign that it was near and really, the hype surrounding the end of the world has really interested me.

It isn't that I don't think there will be an end of the world. Everything starts and everything ends, but is it going to be when everyone is predicting it. In addition, how many times can the end of the world be wrongly predicted before people stop listening to the media coverage on this. (Think Chicken Little on this.)

Really, the whole debate made me wonder if the end of the world was nigh or if advertisers had finally tapped into the greatest marketing campaign ever. Suddenly, people are being told, "Live your life for today. You want that big screen television, charge it. The world is going to end on January 1st, just won't have to pay because we won't be here anyway."

Obviously, 2000 has come and gone and there was no Y2K. Airplanes did not fall from the sky and the man that purchased 20,000 cans of SPAM hopefully didn't have to eat them all.

It seems like the media has taken a liking to anything that could potentially spell the end of the world. They have even taken to quoting bible references to the end of the world and this has just fed the fervor surrounding it. It seems like the perfect marketing campaign and really, many people are living in the right now, getting everything they ever desired and watching their debt swell to uncontrollable proportions. In addition, the end of the world is big business. Movies bring in hundreds of millions of dollars when it is an end of the world scenario or the aftermath of that end. There are countless books describing the end of the world, and there are countless more describing how to survive it. Big business but the business that we rarely look at is surviving as a society.

My main thought is that no matter how many days are left on the planet, we are all going to end at one point, maybe it won't be in a mass extinction, but maybe it will be. Why are we allowing those last days to be filled with terror that is pushed by the media? Why are we focusing on the end and not on the journey to that end? Does it have to be filled with big screen televisions, fanaticism, and getting the most earthly possessions that we can amass?

What happened to the other message of just being a good person regardless of your religion, nationality, sex, or creed? I think that for me, if the end of the world does come, I would rather know that I brought happiness to someone than worry about the computer that I am typing on right now.

Okay, I went a little off topic and really, my main thought was simply, do you think the end is nigh or do you think marketers have found an excellent marketing ploy, whether it is to sell books, movies or a way of life that is all about the excesses?

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