Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Fire Extinguisher Cabinet

It all began I guess in Waterloo, when my girlfriend J told me about this exchange program she read about on the Internet between St. Lucia and Nova Scotia. I was living in Ontario at the time but having grown up in Nova Scotia she figured I'd qualify. It was for youth aged 17-23, lasted five-and-a-half months, three in St. Lucia, and was called the EYE Program.

I was immediately interested because I was getting sick of my current job, which involved doing research for a bunch of would-be Thomas Edisons trying to push more pooper scoopers and other equally useless products onto our already saturated marketplace, thus wasting numerous resources and further destroying our preciously vulnerable planet. The crazy thing is I actually liked, even loved, this job at first, and had gone so far as to spend four years in school training for such work, which seemed interesting at first, then like a waste of time, and finally, worst of all, dangerous and damaging. I somehow had failed to make the connection between Marketing and the destruction of the environment. Here I was, a vegetarian, a reuser and recycler, hell, even a reducer, and I was doing research for yahoos so that I could help them help further bludgeon our poor planet to death.

But I didn't realize it. I didn't stop to think that by Marketing more and more products onto the marketplace, I was in effect neutralizing every effort I made as an individual to avoid taking part in the destruction of this planet. Worse, I was also neutralizing the effects of hundreds, thousands of other people like me, because I was helping to convince their cousins, neighbors, kids, even their dogs that they needed shit such as, well, pooper scoopers. A better example is fire extinguisher cabinets.

The fire extinguisher cabinet was an idea of a client of mine which he called his "brain-child". After I did research on the idea and found that there already exist many such products, and that they are somewhat popular, he wrote me a letter thanking me for my efforts and helping him solve some key "marketing problems", thus bettering his entire concept and helping him fulfill a dream. I was happy of course, who wouldn't be? I'd helped someone, and it was one of the most gratifying things to occur during my 11 months on the job.

And according to my client, his product would help save lives, because: it would beautify the fire extinguisher, thus causing people to place it in a more visible, and thus more accessible area. Therefore, in the event of a fire, precious seconds are saved. It could mean the difference between a blazing inferno enveloping entire neighborhoods, eventually forests, wildlife, taking the lives of brave firefighters and the innocent campers and rangers therein! and a little black mark in your carpet.

And this of course is the logical mindset of Marketers, especially advertisers. How can we make Mr. and Mrs. Schmoe feel the need to buy this product, when the need does not yet exist?

Of course, they don't teach you that in business school. They teach you that the goal of the Marketer is to identify an unfulfilled need, and fulfill it. However, they also teach you that to build a better mousetrap is not enough, you have to set the right price, you have to get the right distributors, and above all else, you have to $$$ell it! So if you see a nice looking frame for your fire extinguisher, you might say, "nice", and move forward to the next item on the auction block. But if you see the difference between that blazing inferno and that little black mark on your carpet, you say, "how much?" and then you say, "is that all? for peace of mind? Sold!" And everybody is happy.

Except for the trees who gave their lives for the building of the millions of cabinets sold now that everyone needs one, and those without are scorned publicly for their lack of responsibility, for keeping their extinguishers under the cupboard, and for the danger they pose to society. The trees are not happy. But why the hell not? A few dead to protect the rest from the ravages of fire, you'd think they'd be satisfied, those selfish bastards!

But the trees are not susceptible to Marketing, they are more savvy than the average consumer. They are logical creatures because they have no emotions, and they do not fear for their families’ safety, they can see the situation clearly, and they know that in reality, the Fire Extinguisher Cabinet will not save nearly as many trees as it took to make them. They even see that in the long run, the damage done by unnecessary resource-using products such as the Fire Extinguisher Cabinet will even take more human lives than it will save, because without trees, there is no hope for humans.

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Are the average person's cabinets so full that the fire extinguisher must live on their coffee table?

I'm always amused and amazed by marketing folk and the items they foist on us.
apparently even having the extinguisher in a regular cabinet greatly increases response time. the fire extinguishe cabinet goes on the wall and is therefore more excessible. so goes the theory. makes me miss my pet rock.
You had a pet rock?

I guess time like this demand one.
i believe it was a present from my grandmother, and it had little googly eyes. i thought it was the coolest thing, but i've no idea what happened to it.
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