Today I walked by a Ferrari dealership. One banner in the window that read: Live the Dream. The other one read: Be Envied.
Let me start by saying that I am not at all anti-consumerism. I own at least 25 handbags priced between $10-$500. My collection of diamonds can hold its own. I almost never leave the house without at least eyeliner and mascara. I wish I could always fly business class. And I shop at Whole Foods. (On occasion.)
But sometimes, advertising just pisses me off. The first time this occurred to me was approximately 12 years ago. I was living in New York, walking to my apartment near 14th and 9th. On top of the building that now holds the Apple store was a billboard for Bvlgari. (See? I'm consumerist enough to decide to spell it with a 'v' instead of a 'u', since it just looks wrong the other way.) Jewel tones, a gorgeous woman dripping in jewels, and some wild animals. Or birds. Or a birdcage filled with birds and lush tropical plants. Something completely ridiculous. I remember saying to my friend, who was probably carrying a Dior bag, "Seriously, what the hell. Is this supposed to make me want to buy their jewellery? Because it just looks silly."
More recently, I saw a lululemon shopping bag (now carried by every manner of person under the sun, I'm sure only because they're so eco-friendly) that said 'Who is John Galt?' That's it, I thought. I have been avoiding lululemon because of it's ubiquity, and now I vow never to step foot in one of their shops. How on earth does someone like John Galt, or Ayn Rand, fit in with their whole yoga/presence/community thing? Do they have no idea? Do they not remember any of Atlas Shrugged? (That said, I have enough respect for the brand to type it with a lower-case 'l'.)
Then today, outside the Ferrari dealership, I said to my husband, "Wow, I'm not sure what's more pathetic: That Ferrari thinks their customers would drive a Ferrari in order to be envied, or that someone would buy a Ferrari in order to be envied." Admittedly, I'm not in their target market.
Whenever a Ferrari passes my kids and me on the street, I always point it out. "Look guys, there's a red Ferrari. It's one of the fastest cars in the world, and it's made in Italy, a place we love for lots of reasons. You don't see very many of them." From now on I'm going to have to try keep a lid on my cynicism. They're only two and four, and they have many years of advertising ahead of them. I don't want to spoil it for them.