Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Product Placement

Product placement or embedded marketing is a form of advertisement where branded goods goods or services are placed in a context usually devoid of ads, such as movies, the story line of television shows, or news programs. The product placement is often not disclosed at the time that the good or service is featured. Product placement became common in the 1980s. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_placement]. Take my picture above of my dear friend, the intention of this shot was to take a picture of her to remember her by before she moved away but in the processes I captured the Coca-Cola bottle she was drinking as well which was on the table behind her. Though blurred out, clearly not the subject of the photograph, you can still make out that it is a bottle of coke. So as you peruse my work above you might be thinking a nice cold drink would be nice...maybe even a coke? That is how product placement works! The debate about the rights and wrongs of product placement are without our sphere of discussion today and I neither support nor refute its usage in a commercial setting.
There is a type of product placement that is called ‘self promotion’ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_placement], which entails one advertising / selling one’s self in a socio-economic setting. I was considering this practice of product placement in relation to everyday life and our interaction with one another. People naturally use the method of ‘self promotion’ in settings that are unfamiliar, in the work environment or anywhere there is a sense of ‘needing to impress’ or gain a good opinion’. Parents do this with their children when they boast of their achievements to friends and strangers. People do this upon introduction to strangers especially in a romantic or business setting. I made a new contact recently and when asked what I do, I don’t think I stopped talking for 15 minutes! Evaluating the conversation later that night I had to ask myself, do I just do a lot of different things that were necessary to share in response to a polite enquiry (which was probably not even a genuine interest)? Or was I just going through the motions of self promotion and positioning myself for whatever contacts may be derived from this individual talking about me and all I do to a third party?

My conclusion in the evaluation process was this; if indeed the former is true, maybe I should review my workload to make sure I’m not biting off more than I can chew. If however the latter was true, I really need to work on and recognize when to use my elevator pitch!                                                                          An elevator pitch is an entrepreneur's one-minute explanation of his/her business model, often heard in an elevator and directed at anyone who might want to provide funding[or professional connections] for the entrepreneur's startup. [http://www.investorwords.com/1684/elevator_pitch.html].I realised that I had not specific intention when sharing what I do beyond listing everything I could think of. A completely pointless exercise because in reality people are not really that interested in other people or what they do unless there is a benefit to them.  With that in mind I had a brain wave, ‘Be quick to listen and slow to speak’ [James 1:19] – This is indeed a principle for all of life! You see, had I spent more time listening to who they are, what they are about and what their interests are, when it was my turn to speak, rather than state everything I do (at the risk of boring them to death!) I could have correctly placed the ‘product’ (that is the things I do that would be of interest to them) I have into a concise yet effective elevator pitch. This can be a highly effective approach, if correctly utilised in all areas of professional as well as social interaction. The key is to be deliberate in what and how you present yourself in your socio-economic discourses. Always ensuring that your audience is captured, your information current, relevant and understandable (not technical jargon) and that you allow them the freedom to speak first whilst you listen intently.

An "I didn't think I could do that!" moment...

I love children! They have no inhibitions; if they want to try something they do it with no care or concern that they might fail or popular opinion! Every day is an adventure, every failure a discovery of, 'what not to do when I try that again in a minute experience. Popular opinion bares no relevance, offence is not something they understand and fear is not in their vocabulary. So they march through life, like 'mini' Rambo's, taking no prisoners in the adventure called life. Children as a result, develop rapidly, take everything in their stride, and adapt to change easily, recover quicker and have so much more fun! 

The problem is they grow up! Once intrinsically fearless and adventurous, now cautious, predictable, triple insured (not that insurance in and of itself is bad) and busy concerning themselves with the opinion of others and 'how I will look if I...' In a nutshell, socially conditionedSocial conditioning can be understood as representing the role of 'Nurture' in the Nature vs. Nurture debate [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_conditioning]  

Social conditioning introduces us to limitations; highlighting the genuine and creating the imagined. I will take the liberty of classifying limitations accordingly; 'genuine' and 'created'. A genuine limitation for example is that a day is only 24 hours long so whatever you plan to achieve, it needs to be done in that window of opportunity. A created limitation for example is that you are born to do or be one specific thing; in schools this is supported by children being assessed and then being directed down the "sciences" or "arts" routes of education. Limitation can be defined as a limiting condition; restrictive weakness; lack of capacity; inability or handicap [ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/limitation]. Genuine limitations are simply challenges and there is often a way to overcome them or operate within them. 

The real stumbling block is created limitations. These are the things that we are told from a young age, they can appear positive as well as negative but the result is the same, boxing you into a specific role function or journey and the result can often feel like entrapment for some who eventually rebel and choose to completely change their lives and re-invent themselves. The majority of us are not so fortunate... We live our lives in 'boxed limitation'  in the form of our race, nationality, geographical location, career paths, self-expression, relationships and worst of all fear of being different in a world governed by social norms... Who is to say that we have to choose between being an artist and a business person? Or be a philosopher and a surgeon? Why is it that we have to work in a job for life and then die? Surely the life choices of our friends and families should not hinder us from venturing out and beyond? Does one need to be exceedingly gifted at a particular discipline in order to pursue it? And if one is indeed so gifted does that mean they are destined to pursue only that discipline, ignoring any other inclination they may have towards something else? 

It is often the little things that social conditioning robs us of the most through the avenue of fear... Fear of failure being the chief of these. My mum taught me the basic fundamentals of cooking and baking. There are in baking as there are in all things, levels of skill and for me, the true test of a baker is the quality and ability to make chocolate cake. A test I have been petrified of taking for fear of failure. It’s been like that for over a decade! Silly really I know because I can make other cakes, but in my own personal 'social conditioning', a true baker must be able to make a chocolate cake. Lately as I have been pondering this very topic, I have started to challenge anything that I did not make a conscious informed decision about. Anything I did because 'that’s what is expected' or 'has always been done that way'. I am pleased to report that I embarked on a journey of no return, throwing caution to the wind and make, you guessed it! a chocolate cake...

This is it! a slice of my chocolate cake!!!

A limitation in law refers to; the assignment, as by statute, the period of time assigned: a statute of limitations. A far more positive interpretation on the word than in everyday life as it indicates a time limit within which a state of being can exist. Thereafter, things change... In the spirit of the law in putting an end to a claim after a limited period. 

I propose a limitation on the influence of social conditioning from this point on. Having had this imposition on our freedom to be all we can be; let us move forward, clear out of the boxes that have imprisoned us and stunted our growth and venture out into the world of possibilities and do all the things we just didn't think we had the skill, ability, breeding or option to do! 
Live a life without borders...


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