I’m sure you’ve seen them, especially if Yahoo is your ISP–the ads on the right side of the page that essentially promise something big for almost nothing. The operative word is often “trick”–as in “One Weird Trick to Lower Your Electric Bill.” The nouns that appear in these ads are: trick, secret, loophole and the adjectives: easy, ridiculously easy, weird and the verbs: lower or increase.
You folks need to know the car insurance loophole that can drastically lower your premiums.
You need to know the secret for joint pain (osteoarthritis) relief.
And us old guys (over-40) need to know the trick to increase our testosterone and libido.
Also, what about the trick to increase your credit score that banks and lenders don’t want you to know about? That one goes along with the ridiculously easy trick to refinance your house.
Plus, the secret to buying penny stocks that will make you rich in no time.
I first noticed these ads about six months ago, although they may have been around for a lot longer than that. The first I recall had to do with losing weight or gaining muscle. Most everyone would like to do that effortlessly. These ads certainly don’t say anything very complimentary about human nature. I recall something Scott Peck once wrote about “laziness” being original sin–in a sense always looking for results without having to put any work or passion into the process. He was writing about the human tendency to accept pat answers and slogans in lieu of thinking deeply about issues.
I would gather these “trick” ads are effective in drumming up customers. The geniuses on Madison Ave only employ what works. It’s fascinating to me to watch the trends in ads. A couple of years ago you couldn’t buy a car or get a home loan without having a “relationship” with some oily, disingenuous salesman. The word “relationship” and the power of relationship became so ubiquitous that it even worked its way into church-speak. It was used as a church building strategy–like everybody going to church was surely looking for a relationship. I don’t hear it being emphasized so much anymore, and so maybe it didn’t work so well. But very likely church planters and builders are off seeking a new buzz-word or marketing device. It would be enlightening to know where all this relationship hooey for sales purposes had its inception. I find it immeasurably sad when the Church, our Lord’s Body, feels the need to mirror the gimmicks of Madison Ave to find disciples. And perhaps even more sadly, the cynic in me awaits the first church marquee that says: “One Quick and Ridiculously Easy Trick to Get Into Heaven.” Now, that would be so over-the-top that it would surely be offered in the spirit of irony. . . But then again, maybe not.