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Laurenne Sala

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You Can't Buy Love at the Drive-Thru

Posted: 02/14/11 02:54 PM ET

I've spent my career convincing people to buy things they don't need. And in order to do this, I've lied. I've made teenagers think they had to have video games. And when I wasn't sure if my lies would really ring true to them, I surveyed their peers and conned them into telling me what tricks I could use. Before that, I made men and women ages 18-45 believe that they could really benefit from eating tacos and ice cream from a certain fast food chain. And when I wasn't sure they'd fall for it, I spent days making those tacos and ice cream look so absurdly delicious that they had to say it: I want that.

Many advertisers will tell you they're simply helping their clients get the word out about their products. Or that they're creating art that people want to see and pass to their friends. But I think those people also believe that you can't get a girl pregnant if you hold your breath while ejaculating. Because the amount of inventing and manipulating that goes on before a campaign hits popular culture is pretty ridiculous. And the amount of money spent on getting these campaigns to market is even more so. We could probably end world poverty for the price of two Nike spots.

We spend months at our stale desks deciding what a brand's stance should be. Most of the time, we make up everything or we make a huge deal about the tiniest bit of info. Volvos probably aren't really much safer. Proactiv surely doesn't really work on all those celebrities. And McDonald's isn't healthy all of a sudden just because it added salads to the menu.

I've always felt uneasy about making this my career. And now, advertising is getting back at me for all this ambivalence. This time, advertising has manipulated me.

I'm working on an account that shall remain nameless. This mysterious account won't allow lies in its advertising. And it holds tight to the rule that every couple featured in its ads must be deeply in love. At first I scoffed. Then I laughed. Then I paced around in circles. What? This goes against everything. I was ready to invent more untruths, like the one about how cows in California produce better cheese.

But no! Instead, this client spent its ad money to fly real couples to LA for the shoot. They put them all up in hotels and even gave them care packages! These couples got the royal wardrobe treatment and took to the sets like movie stars. But they were REAL. And in LOVE. And I was shocked.

We filmed for eight days. Eight extra-long days of watching pairs and pairs of happy soulmates traipse around Los Angeles. Normally, when happy soulmates vacation in front of you, it's maddening. I take comfort in my single bitterness. I'm just fine alone in my endeavor to spend my life with the option to rub my naked butt on the couch whenever I want and never clean my shower if I don't feel like it. Single! Independent. Don't need me no nobody.

But that was before I was surrounded by fifty-two couples who can't live without each other. That's 104 hearts filled with emotion and love and compassion for that perfect person who isn't a dream but a real match who feels the same way back.

And so I realized: I want that.

I knew I wanted that before, of course. But now I really want it. Because I've seen the commercials. And because it might be nice if there was somebody to pull my socks off when I'm too tired or tell me the funny things about his day or help me cheat at Skee ball or hold my hand until we fall asleep.

The karma bell has rung. Making these ads has manipulated me into wanting something I don't have. And this is much worse than all the manipulation I've ever created. Because you can't buy love at a drive-thru (unless you're in Vegas, and that's not the same).

I've spent my career convincing people to buy into advertising. And now advertising has convinced me to buy into love.

I hate you, Advertising. I always have.

 

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