Truth in Advertising
In a now iconic Facebook video, local entrepreneur, Paul Salm looks at the camera and says, “There’s no business model for this, folks.” He spoke during the first few days of struggling to switch his restaurant from dine-in to take-out. He was simply asking for our patience. Thankfully, Paul and Matt did not end their movie making during the first week. They’ve had some gems…and probably a cease and desist order from the Batman franchise.
But Paul was right. He had no plan to move from one way of doing his business to a new way. Fortunately, Paul didn’t wait too long or think too much about it. Each week has offered him lessons on what works and what does not work.
Big business was not too far behind small business. I don’t usually pay attention to the commercials, but Karen noticed how quickly PR departments rolled out COVID-19 commercials. Not commercials for the virus, but promotionals geared to ‘these unprecedented times’. Companies offer discounts for health care professionals and essential workers. You can actually buy a truck online and have it delivered to your house—you can bypass the torture of the salesperson routine (if you have perfect credit and enough cash for the deposit). Jackson keeps trying, but I keep sending it back.
The commercials share too much in common. Soft string pads open the commercial. A person listens on the other end of the phone as someone else speaks. A hushed male voice narrates ‘We’re here to help you stay connected.’ While that commercial sells a national cell phone carrier, the commercial uses community and empathy to sell the product. In another, the same music floats over the same grave, male voice extolling a the history of personal relationship as the hallmark of a national insurance company (which they don’t even mention.)(and why are all of these ‘serious’ voiceovers done by men?)
Crisis sells. Businesses can’t sell leisure, comfort, and ease in times of crisis. They use our desire for community, empathy, and connection to sell the same products they sold during the Super Bowl with images of parties and celebrations.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame them. I’m jealous. Neither Christ, nor his Church, have a monopoly on caring for people. I believe we’re pretty good at it. I believe we’ve been pretty good at it for a long time. I believe we’re going to continue to get better at it.
I just wish we had a way to broadcast how much we care. Unless, we don’t need to advertise how much we care as long as demonstrate our care—without the soft strings playing in the background, without the grave male voice telling people that we really care.
In 1957, C.H. Shawe wrote a little tract called “The Spirit of the Moravian Church”. He lists five ‘virtues’ of the church. Simplicity. Happiness. Unintrusiveness. Fellowship. Service. Shawe states, “the quality of unintrusiveness, unagressiveness, is quite compatible with great zeal and bold enterprise for evangelization”.
Here’s my commercial, not just for the Moravian Church, but for people who just care:
[Que the soft strings][First shot: A person dropping off groceries at a food pantry][Second shot: Two neighbors sitting on their front porches 8 feet away.][Third shot: Woman in sweats prays with a family member in a quarantined facility via Facetime][Que the grave, female voice.] “Quietly, patiently, great zeal and bold enterprise change the world. Quiet, patient, persistent, love wins. We don’t need to sell this. It is simply who we are. It is simply who we have always been.”
I love you.
[I need you.]
I hope for you.
Please be safe.