Yesterday I had lunch with a wise colleague, Michael Reardon of Fieldtrip Design, and, inevitably, we got to talking about the economy and our respective businesses. In spite of the fact that private sector jobs have been steadily growing since early 2009, that domestic manufacturing has been growing, that the Stimulus Package seemed to be working up to the point that it ran out, people are still not spending, and so our own businesses--advertising and design--are languishing. It's a Catch 22. The overriding ethic driving our economy is for everybody to do nothing. Though "parking our economy" would be a more apt metaphor than "driving".
But Reardon said something that made me go hmmm. He said he was optimistic because people will just get bored with being depressed and want to move on at some point. And so they'll go back to the stores, buy new cars, new computers, new hip replacements, new shoes, just like they did before. All out of boredom.
It's said that the economy is more influenced by emotion than any other factor. The stock market alone seems to be governed by sixteen-year-old girls. And boredom is certainly an emotion. If emotion is taken literally, by its root "motion," then the boredom with the bad economy should move us right out of our funk sooner or later. There will be a tipping point where, collectively, everyone will just get up off their whiny butts and go do something --preferably shop.
I should know this. Berry's Law of Persuasion states that the emotional is to the rational as three-to-one (yes, that's my law, and yes, that ratio is made up, but it's still quotable). This is something I've preaching to my clients for years; that when people decide to buy a new thing, they make up their minds emotionally first and then cobble together a list of good "reasons" to justify it. In other words, they want it before they need it. This is the whole point of advertising to begin with; to get the "want" started, to push those emotional buttons. And this is what is going to get our economy moving again. It won't be a collective rationalization that the matrix of economic indicators warrant prudent investment in a new pair of shoes. It will be, "I'm feeling bored. I need shoes."
So I left the lunch feeling everything's going to be fine. People will just get tired of listening to phrases like "in this economy," or "The Great Recession" and start shopping again to make themselves feel better. Then, retailers will have to stock shelves and hire help. And manufacturers will have to crank up the plant to fill those shelves, and also hire help. And we'll all be fine again; saved by boredom.
This post is boring me. Wanna go shopping?