"All advertising copy has but one purpose-to prevent the will from ever achieving silence," Aldous Huxley writes in his book "Silence, Liberty, and Peace." "The condition of an expanding and technologically progressive system of mass production is universal craving. Advertising is the organized effort to extend and intensify the workings of that force, which (as all the saints and teachers of all the higher religions have always taught) is the principal cause of suffering and wrongdoing and the greatest obstacle between the human soul and its Divine Ground."
Now, doesn't that make you feel better?
There is hope. Advertising, on occasion, can approach the divine. For instance, earlier this year a tiny ad shop in Amsterdam called Gummo created Z Magazine, an incredible glossy with striking portraits of homeless street vendors who hawk a newspaper that funds city shelters. Gummo's one-off title sold like hotcakes-all benefits going straight to the shelters-and it created a furious media buzz across the country. "We try at least once a year to do a project that is not necessarily for the money," says Onno Lixenberg, a Gummo founder. Last month the shop created pro-bono advertising for War Child, an organization that assists child victims of war. Check them out at gummo.nl.
Travel without leisure?
American Express Publishing's Travel & Leisure recently treated some clients to a weekend junket at a Mexican resort. Unfortunately, it snowed when they left New York and the group spent hours on the runway before taking off. In Mexico, it rained. The trip then took a dangerous turn: A van carrying the travelers down a highway flipped over. Several clients were treated for minor injuries. "It was the marketing junket from hell," says an Adages spy, who heard about it from participants. "It's proof that sometimes no marketing is better than some marketing." Amy Curtis-McIntyre, VP-marketing at JetBlue, was there and had a different opinion. "It was an excellent trip. Everyone bonded," says Amy, who was not in the van that tumbled. "We weren't doing anything risky. The trip was carefully planned. It was just an unfortunate accident. This is sometimes what authentic travel involves."
Shoveling out the barnyard
UBS Warburg's new Vice Chairman-Managing Director Phil Gramm, former GOP Texas senator, spoke at the brokerage's annual media conference last week and trotted out some homespun hokum to prove free trade is good for the economy. Seems he once left a shovel in his pickup truck, which was in for repairs. "I had to do some chores," said the Texas rancher, puffing up his chest. "So I went to Home Depot and bought a shovel there, and I mean no one has ever bought a better value than I did. That shovel was built of solid metal and it was made in China and it only cost $4.58. You can't tell me that isn't good for the economy." Adages called a Home Depot in Houston, near Gramm's ranch, and found that the cheapest spade shovel is $9.98 and $7.99 for a flat shovel. But they do sell a hand scoop for $4 and change. "It is very small," said the Home Depot saleswoman, "used only for small plants." As Adages sees it, Gramm was either digging holes for ornamental cabbages or he was shoveling manure. A UBS spokesman quipped that Gramm got a senator's discount.
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