Monday, January 19, 2009

Selling a Dream

One of my jobs at work is to go through our Spam Queue to look for things that got caught by mistake. It's an appalling sort of job going through email that tries to appeal to our most base desires, so to cope I spend time analyzing the trends.

The trends are remarkably simple:

  • sex, sex, sex (meaning enlargement, viagra, russian women, some porn site advertising)
  • beauty / body image (lose weight, abs of steel, fake pharmacies; Closely related to sex)
  • money (get rich quick, get out of debt, refi, avoid foreclosure)
  • business (also money - but more specific)
  • Advertising such as
    - As Seen on TV (e.g. pedipaws - a dressed up dremel)
    - Free and likely a catch (fake watches, gift cards, test and keep, bootleg software)
    - Buy this (the usual advertising but surprisingly little)

And that's pretty much it. Five topics sum up our most basic desires, and the first two are pretty much the same. What does that say about us? Are we that simple at our most base level?

Commercials (radio and TV) run along similar lines but starts to differ in interesting ways.
AM radio is very snake oil and skates quite close to spam. FM radio and TV are more expensive and more regulated so what shows up is more beer and cars.

And sometimes you see a cross over. I saw an enlargement ad on TV and was shocked that someone could afford to do it (or that someone took it). And Viagra is everywhere it seems.

But they all are selling a dream. I'm still not sure what that says about us. I think it means that a lot of us crave companionship and fear loneliness, and there are far too many of us that are happy to take advantage of that vunerability.

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