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We Are All Priceless

We are all priceless 2I know people like Obama, J Lo and Clinton have a brand. Tony Abbott’s brand would have to include the famous budgie smugglers. Bob Hawk’s would include his beer skulling skill. There is an outlet centre here in Perth that asks as part of its advertisement, “What is your brand?” So clever and insidious. All the sudden you are thinking about yourself solely in terms of the toothpaste you use and the shoes you wear. You are adding up each piece of merchandise you buy and determining that the sum of the parts equals the whole you.
I have been taking this Marketing for Managers class and either it is messing with my head and making me paranoid or everywhere we go marketing teams are adding us up and slotting us into a nifty niche to determine where we fit in their campaigns. It is called market segmentation and basically it breaks us down into brands we buy, values we have, our age, our geographical location etc… I was talking to one of our professors about this the other day and he said I was a freak. He said it in a much nicer way because he is a very nice man but, yeah, I am a freak when it comes to trying to break me down to my parts and add me up. Why? Because I like to read labels, I like to know if there is citric acid is in my cereal. I don’t know what citric acid is but I still want to know whether or not this crazy little chemical is in my food. I want to know whether my coffee is rainforest certified, fair trade or organic. There are other things that make me unusual apparently. Things I wasn’t aware of, like the fact that my husband and I like to watch three different news broadcasts every evening. Overall though, I wasn’t surprised I was unusual or, as the professor described it, “a purchaser who lies on the periphery.”  I embarrassed my mother enough as a child to know that the way my brain works is a little bit wondrous and scary all at the same time. I called my first headache a brainache and refused to use the proper word because I felt it did not accurately describe my suffering.

We are all priceless 4
It is not as if the idea is new. The saying “You are what you eat” has been around for ages. Paying celebrities to promote brands is an age-old marketing ploy. The idea that we are a brand is attractive to a lot of us.The funny thing is I am not saying we aren’t a brand but if we are, maybe the brand shouldn’t be made up of things that can be purchased with money. We have a friend in China who can fix absolutely anything. He is magic. He cannot be replicated or broken down according to the tools he uses or the overalls he wears. I guess if someone was to ask what my brand is, I hope the answer would be so much more than my jacket or my shoes or the suburb I live in. Intangibles are what makes up all of us and it is a shame if we fall into a trap that convinces us that merchandise is what we are all about.
You are what you eat, or study, or the clothing you wear, but truthfully we are worth so much more than the sum of our purchasing parts. I hope I am worth a thousand hugs from two wonderful boys, love given and received from friends around the world, the wisdom that has been shoved into my brain by many We are all pricelesshardworking mentors, the look in my husband’s eye when he sees me after a long day of work and so many other priceless parts. By the way, no matter what a certain credit card company says, not one part of those things can be purchased with money. When I look at my friends I don’t care about their jackets, but I love their honesty and their smile when they see me. I don’t look at a house and see a sofa that is custom-made or a sofa that was passed on from a relative. What I see is a sofa that we sit on and drink coffee while we chat. What I see is good times and memories.
What has changed about the way marketers break us down is that they have access to so much more information about us. They can keep track of what we buy and where we go. The interesting thing is that even though they have all of this information and the new ability to use the information so much more effectively, marketing campaigns still fail. They fail spectacularly to the tune of millions of dollars spent by massive corporations that should have been able to predict our purchases much more accurately. They fail because our intangibles, the stuff that really makes up our “brand” is not quantifiable information that can be put into a spreadsheet. How wonderful is that?
So today celebrate the priceless you. Come on let me hear you say it with me, “I am more than the label on my undies!” Well maybe that is a little embarrassing. Instead why not comment and tell us one of the things that makes you priceless?

 

If You Give An Aussie A Public Holiday

cgon288_hi

If you give an Aussie a public holiday…

he will want to do some hard yakka around the house. He won’t have the tools he needs though and he will decide…
to go buy some tradie stuff at Bunnings. He will be awfully hungry though and after he gets to the shops…

he will want a sausage from the barbie stand outside. He will also be thirsty so…

he will need a fizzy drink to wash down the tucker.

Then the Aussie will have a go at balancing the tools, the sausages, managing the kiddies and getting to the car. He will try to avoid dropping anything while opening the boot. After he finally gets the family in the car they will discover a sausage isn’t enough…

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/

so a trip to Macca’s needs to be made. He will get a burger with beetroot and of course spill pink juice all down his shirt. Tired, hot and sticky the Aussie will know he can’t finish his DIY today so…

he might as well be off to the beach. No worries with that because an Aussie fam always has bathers in the boot. After a refreshing dip in the big blue it will back to the house for some spag bog. After tea, he will realize he has more energy so …

once the kiddies go to bed it will be time to reconsider trying to finish that project. His wife will say, “Good on ya for having a go”, and so the Aussie will have another crack at it…

but probably won’t finish and now he will be tired and sore so he will decide…

that it is time for bed. He will need to have a shower first and then he will drift off but…

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/

when he wakes up sore and bleary-eyed, he will realize he wants another public holiday

…so he will chuck a sickie.

The Leaving Series Part 3: You Can Take it with You

A short piece on cultural transition I wrote for a friend who has a great blog for parenting Third Culture Kids.

Put A Label On It

Put a label on it 4

Putting a label on things used to be bad. The 90s were interesting that way. We wanted to have a DTR, “Defining the Relationship Talk”, but because we thought labels were so bad we made fun of the fact we had a label for it. . Then we got into slogans, mantras and mottos for people, products and places. Now it seems like everything has a label on it. I hadn’t even noticed, but then the other day I was out shopping and bought instant soup. There were two kinds of powdered instant soup and one kind said, “Made with responsibly grown New Zealand pumpkins.” Can you guess which soup packets I bought? Yes, I bought the reconstituted pumpkin with maltodexin thickener, sugar, creamer, glucose syrup and hydrolyzed corn protein. I felt good too, until I realized how ridiculous that was. I mean what does responsibly grown even mean? On top of that, it is powdered soup so does that even make it taste better? Does anything make powdered soup taste better? I guess in the end I am really happy for those pumpkins because they were raised well. The label did make me feel better though. It made me feel better long enough to pick up two packets of that soup and bring it home.
After I thought about how silly my responsibly grown pumpkin soup was, I started to wonder how many labels were on things in my house. I found quite a few. My lotion says, “Gentle formula for sensitive skin.” Our peanut butter said, “Never oily, always smooth.” I am not sure how on earth peanut butter is ever not oily. My tomato sauce says, “No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives”, but it lists sugar and food acid as main ingredients. My brownie mix says, “premium brownie mix.” Any time you put premium on a mix I PUT A LABEL ON IT 2think a chuckle is deserved. My coffee has a fair trade logo on it but I will be honest and say that I don’t know exactly what the details are of why one product is allowed to put fair trade on it and another product isn’t. Is it actually a fair product which helps people in need or does it just make me feel less guilty? Does it make me feel like I have done my part without actually researching what I am putting in my pantry? I found a drink mix online and its slogan was, “There is love in every cup.” It also said, “Australian Brand.” I am not sure that love is something I can taste, contrary to what pop culture might tell me. Also, being an Australian brand doesn’t actually guarantee that the product is made, packaged or grown here.
Now if you think I am getting snarky, well maybe I am, but my point is not that the products may be misleading us, but that we like to read those things on our products. We buy those things for our house and feel just a put a label on it 3little better, maybe we even feel a little healthier because someone wrote five words on a plastic bottle.  Maybe you don’t, maybe it is just me and my premium brownie mix but I felt good about that too. I may buy brownie mix instead of making brownies from scratch but gosh darn it is premium brownie mix. It says so right there on the box. My zip lock bags have, “Secure lock guaranteed”, printed on the front. I don’t know for sure that they work better than the other brand but I sure do like it when someone prints guaranteed on the front of something. My dishwashing liquid is apparently, “safe for hands and for the environment.”  I am not a scientist, so I have to trust that the label on that dishwashing liquid actually means what it seems to say.
Some of those labels mean something so I don’t think we should do away with labels all together, no matter what the 90s taught me. I just think we have to be really careful about letting the labels make us feel better about the kind of person we are. Do I feel like I am a better person because I have a label on the soup in my pantry which says the pumpkins are responsibly grown? Does the fair trade label on my coffee encourage me to feel superior?  Sometimes we just let it makePut a label on it 1 us feel healthier. My soup must be healthier because it says the pumpkins are responsibly grown. I let that label make me think that, even if only for a short while. I think marketing companies are talented and I think sometimes I am silly. I do not think you will see me reading the back of every product in the grocery store, but if you have time to do that then more power to you.  I don’t think you should put the fair trade coffee back and go home and research the fair trade stipulations on the internet before you purchase coffee again. I would be in real trouble if I suggested that, because I can’t make sense out of the written word until I have had my coffee in the morning. I just think we need to buy what we buy without thinking it changes the person we actually are. No matter what those labels say it does not make me healthier. I am an exercise-hating, chocolate eating and coffee-drinking booklover and no amount of responsibly grown pumpkins is going to change that.

Homes Remembered…the expat life