Will You Forego Your Creative Integrity For The Sake of A Sale?

Corporate marketers use underhanded tactics to win your custom. But you don’t have to. Here’s what to do instead.

Image of McDonalds Clown by jflaxman representing corporate culture on article by Larry G. Maguire

Image by jflaxman on DeviantArt

Corporate marketers use underhanded tactics to win your custom. But you don’t have to. Here’s what to do instead.

When you’re in the supermarket next time, observe how much less product per portion or packet that you get for your pounds, shillings and pence.

See how the number of apples per bag is less than it used to be, or the weight of heads of broccoli is less than before. Or take a closer look at the packet of minced beef, how thin the portion is. Chicken is the same; they remove the small sliver from the chicken breast, package it separately, and call them mini fillets. Yet the price of regular chicken fillets stays the same.

Runt potatoes that we used to throw away or feed to the pigs are called baby potatoes. Bacon has no rind any longer and is so thin you can see your hand through it. Even chocolate bars are being cleverly designed to include less product for the same, or sometimes higher, price. Quality products that used to be standard are now called premium, and cheaper lower quality products have become standard.

So what’s going on?

Well, we’re being conned, are we not?

It’s amusing. On TV and online we’ll see these same corporations feed us cute slogans and powerful imagery. They try to convince us that they care about us and want only to give us the best quality — and they succeed. Often the adverts have little or nothing to do with the product or service, but rather attempt to appeal to our sense of community or family or our desire for success.

“We’re backing brave” is a slogan one of the banks here uses to entice small businesses to borrow. Truth is they don’t give a flying fuck about brave people. They simply need your signature on the bottom of a contract. They will gladly forego their sense of humanity should your wife find you swinging on the end of a rope in your garage.

Because, you see, despite your bravery and their propaganda, they care only for profit, not for people. Big business advertising and marketing is conceited and manipulative. It represents everything I despise about our consumerist, I-have-a-brain-but-no-thanks-I’d-rather-not-use-it, society.

However, these conditions can serve a purpose for creative people like you and me in business. But we must make a conscious choice about how we present ourselves.

“Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does. Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.” — Seth Godin, Author & Entrepreneur

In our contemporary western industrialised society, regular Joe and Josephine Soap like you and me are under a constant barrage from advertisers and marketers vying for our attention. If they win that attention, they make money. If they can reduce how much they give us in return, they make more money.

It’s a numbers game.

Money is but an arbitrary representation of wealth, merely a means of exchange. So when it becomes our lord and ruler, we develop problems. Bureaucracy and procedure begin to run the minds of people, and we risk losing our sense of humanity. In that pursuit of money, we lose the reason and purpose of work and justify all kinds of insane behaviour.

Now, making money is fine. I like to make money as much as anyone. Besides, it is required for us to function in the society that we’ve built. However, you and I need to play a different game.

We usually see the problem with these tactics clearly and realise we don’t need to adopt them.

Besides, we can’t!

To do so goes against your very nature and goes against mine too.

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.” ― Frederick Douglass, 19th Century Abolitionist

Writers, designers, visual artists, musicians, songwriters, basket weavers, painters, makers, craftspeople, technically skilled people of all kinds — we must choose differently.

When our work forms meaning and purpose beyond the thin pursuit of money alone, we are left with no other option but to make for the sake of making — first and foremost. Then marketing or sharing our work becomes an enjoyable part of the process.

It’s not contrived and filled with ulterior motives. We don’t market falsely and try to get one over our buyers. On the contrary, our motivation is to share the thing we made with others.

Sharing our work becomes essential, not for the sake of money alone, but for the sake of completing the creative process.

For those of us who have made that all-important deeper connection with daily work and understand that it is more than just a transactional relationship, happiness and fulfilment are not far away.

For those who don’t find this connection, work is a drag regardless of how much or how little money they make. Stuck in the idea that daily work is a means to an end rather than an end in of itself, solo creative workers will resort to the underhanded tactics mentioned above.

They look to do as little as possible for the most money. They will, as the old saying goes, cut off their own nose to spite their face.

Then they might as well be dead.

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” — Steven Pressfield, Author

Do yourself a favour — make art first. Make whatever it is you’re drawn to make, then tell the world about it in whatever way you can. Be straight. Don’t bullshit. Besides, people see through it. And even if they don’t initially, eventually they will, and you’ll be burned.

The ground upon which you build your business of one will be formed from the integrity you bring to your work. Let everyone else, the corporate liers and bullshitters sell on empty promises. You stick to what you know is right.

Then charge a fair price. You’ll do ok; you’ll do well. You might even do very well in the long term. But you will survive, and you’ll have your integrity intact.

That’s something I’d rather have and be broke as a pie crust than forego for the sake of money.

But I prefer both. I think you would too.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

You’ll also find me here

My Site ¦ Twitter ¦ The Larb Podcast