I am taking a break from our goal setting challenge today because of a news story that has been making the rounds and causing some controversy.
A family from Louisiana decided to do something a little different for their Christmas card this year. Upon doing so a firestorm was created on social media . Before I go on, let me stress that in no way do I think that this family or photographer intended to promote violence against women (as many of the comments on social media elude to). I do however think that this points to a larger problem, this family didn't see why this image might be sending the wrong message
So, why is it the wrong message? This picture creates the illusion that silencing women of all ages is okay.
it is not!
It implies that getting women to shut-up can be celebrated with a thumbs up.
It implies that silencing a woman can be laughed at with a witty tagline.
Research shows that the first step to violence and terrorism against any group of people is that of dehumanizing them. Making them less than human by reducing them to a body part or an object, or even by silencing them. All of this is destructive but the silencing is the one that hits me the hardest.
It can be argued that most people are looking to be heard. What happens when we take that option away? When we take away a person's voice, we take away their ability to fight, to be heard, to be understood. We become less than in our own head. We become unhappy, unsatisfied, uninspired.
Some of you may be reading this and think that I am giving this photo/concept way too much energy but you would be wrong. There is a wealth of evidence to back me up.
I studied "communications" in school. I decided it had a broader reach than a traditional marketing degree. With this I chose to spend a large part of my time studying gender and kids. I knew that this is the direction that the business world was going and wanted to better understand the consumer that I would potentially be marketing too. I now work in marketing and realize the approach I took is rare. Very few if any marketers actually take course work focused on gender, psychology or sociology. Maybe a class here or there, but no real emphasis on it. This is why I struggle with my profession. At it's core, marketing is convincing people to buy, do or act. It works with the psyche and what motivates people. It is great responsibility.
Unfortunately, it seems sometimes like marketers are worse than the stereotypes of lawyers. I say that because in my experience very few people in marketing actually know anything beyond the "business" part of marketing. Marketing is so much more than that. It is about knowing how people think, what they desire and why and using that information for good. How can you do this if you don't know anything beyond the numbers?
Marketing shapes the way we look at the world, whether we like to admit it or not. Marketing and media shapes the way we see and feel about ourselves subconsciously, it convinces us what we want and what we need. Herein lies the responsibility. Do we use this power to do good and make the world better or do we use it to make a buck? Are they mutually exclusive?
I would argue they are not.
We live in a visual society, one that puts emphasis on "seeing is believing". Instagram has exploded on the scene, as has Snap Chat and a number of other social networks that focus solely on imagery. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? If it is that how can we remain complacent with imagery like this family photo or any of the images on this post? How can we claim ignorance as to what these image are really saying?
How can you call yourself a marketer if you don't know how consumers digest the imagery and content you are putting in the universe?
my opinion? you can't.
I could continue to go on about this but realize this is an much bigger subject than a single blog post. So I will come down from my soap box for a minute and get back to the point Did this family have ill intent when creating this holiday card? of course not. Does it speaker to a larger problem in our society? Of course it does. I couldn't let today go by without at least addressing it. I won't apologize for this big soap box because I believe so full heartedly in it but I will work to better formulate my thoughts for future posts.