Friday, February 19, 2010

We Are Building a Religion

There's a brand manager over at Frito-Lay's SunChips who just won't give up. Burdened with the 21st Century do-gooder, save-the-planet, share-the-love ethos, back in '07 SunChips was immersed in their "Live Brightly" campaign, complete with fake videos of cool dudes who eat SunChips buying two sandwiches and giving one to a homeless man, who just wanted some cheap, potent wine. Having failed to start a new religion based on "Live Brightly," SunChips is now going the "How Will You Change the World?" route. I won't transcribe the copy from that site, because you can imagine it already. Here are the highlights:
"Small ideas, turn to big ideas, ride your bike to work, greener planet, power to change the world, we can do this!"

Are you puking yet? They go on to explain that SunChips bags are now biodegradable! How awesome is that? Doesn't it make you want to grab a bunch of empty SunChips bags and throw them out the window as you race through a beautiful green space without a muffler on your gas-guzzling SUV, screaming at the bum on the corner to "Get a Job!"? OK, maybe you won't react that harshly. Or perhaps you are susceptible to this bullshit and you now have the urge to buy a Prius and compost your toilet paper. (Oh, did I mention that SunChips are "heart healthy?" Yes! So skip that coronary bypass and just munch away. The heart healthy lie is an essay of its own for another time.)

Remember when Heineken did the same thing, trying (and failing) to create a Universal Brotherhood by "Sharing the Good?"

But as the culture goes, so goes the advertising. (Or is it the other way around?) For instance, during World War II, if your brand didn't "support the war effort," it was basically a Nazi brand and you should be put into a camp in the desert along with those suspicious Japanese. So as we are continually bombarded with talk of our "Planet In Peril" and the need to "Be Good Stewards," we can expect beer and chips to try to jump on the bandwagon. Some good surely comes from this. Then again, some real sharks are born of it, like the "Sustainability Consultant" businesses now showing up in big corporations, teaching grown-ups how to use less paper.

"Green" is now a religion, with adherents so militant and fervent they could qualify as religious extremists. (How many of us now recycle out of sheer guilt?) But if you're looking for meaning and a sense of fulfillment from a bag of chips, you should maybe go talk to a member of the clergy, or a psychiatrist. 

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