Mauricio’s Mercenary Report:

“Why do I care so much about getting your money?
Because I am a multi-billion dollar bank owner!”

Many of you may have seen – whether you like it or not – WestJet’s new “Why do we care so much? Because we are also WestJet owners” advertising campaign. Has anyone given some real thought at this mockery of the art of advertising? In one ad a lady in her early 20’s brings what could be one of her equally aged lovers to meet her parents for the first time. Right in the middle of dinner, the father noticeably concerned in the future dowry and financial well being of his offspring cuts right to the chase and asks point blank range: “What do you do?” The daughter, slightly embarrassed utters a restrained and hushed “Dadddddy?’ Does our hero –the one possible lover of many— shy away from this patriotically empowered figure? Oh no, he first gives his girl a ‘later…you and I are gonna get it on, but for now, watch suave at work,’ look and then directs his stare right at the father’s eyes and innocently states: ‘I am an owner of West Jet!’ At which point the father, obviously impressed goes saying a few great things about WestJet before gazing at what we all now know will be his new son-in law. Then he approvingly declares: ‘I like the cut of your gib, son!’ Wow, how many times could have impressed the parents of all my dates with lines like that?

But why stop there? I would have said something along the lines of:
‘Why sir, I am an owner of a multi-national, multi-billion dollar financial company! Heck, if it wasn’t for me, that 125 year institution would be crumbling apart and would not even be half the company it is today if it weren’t for my personal tutelage.’ BOOM! How is that for impressing a girlfriend’s parents?

Can you imagine? After dinner, he would be like: ‘Okay Sir, bring her back in one piece if ravage her you must, but if you decide to marry her right away, please remember that I am fond of the idea of owning a yatch some day.’

Okay, so I made that last part up, but the point it is not lost. There is nothing especial about opting to buy shares in a company. Even less so if you happen to work for said company and most likely get a discount when buying said shares. As such, one can consider the whole ad campaign a moot campaign.

If it were not, then this humble scribe would also happen an owner of multiple world-renowned companies such as Sony, Imax and even Nortel. Gosh, I hope it was not my ongoing philanthropy, constant parties and the purchasing of luxuries such as mouthwash which lead to Nortel’s 500%+ share value plunge, after all, it used to trade at over $165+ and at the time of this writing it closed at $3.24 per share. Oh, MY GOD? WHAT HAVE I DONE? Oh, woe is my power, which I have used for evil!

Talk about misrepresentation of advertising. Keep in mind 4% of West Jet employees cannot claim what their commercial states, as they are not West Jet owners. They must be like the black sheep of the company. I fear for these particular employees since probably the other 86% may have outcast them. Just don’t expect any of them to go looking for you two days after your flight to give your cell phone back and get you $50 over asking price, oh no. They might just keep it for themselves. Those thieves.

Let me tell you about the company I happen to be an owner right now. What if I were to tell you that we rip our clients off by giving them chickpeas for interest in exchange to safeguard their hard earned money so we can use it for own investing? Heck, we might as well give you thumbs tacks for interest, at least at the end of the year you could try melting them to sell the aluminium they are made of. As it stands, there are better financial institutions, one with an orange logo comes to mind, at least they are willing to keep your money from loosing too much to the most basic of all economic detractors: inflation. Which at present it stands at 2.96% percent. Am I making this up? Do you think what I say is slanderous? Should I perhaps get sued for libel? Well, I could be if I wasn’t right. Hey, why believe me? Lets see what the Bank of Canada’s inflation calculator says, try here:

Check how much $100 of your hard earned dollars has lost in worth since last year in comparison to today. Oh, and there is that little thing called ‘service fees,’ that as we all know goes directly into my pocket because after all, I care because I am an owner. Does this sound like we put our clients first?
Which of course brings me back to advertising. Do not get me wrong. I am foremost a capitalist. But as time moves forward, good ideas in the world of advertising have transformed from the once art of salesmanship and persuasion to just being hit with a message over and over and over again, regardless of whether is wrong or right. It almost like a Road Runner cartoon, except that we are the coyote and the anvil that hits us on the head has the words ‘I am lovin’ it’ written all over it. The medium is the message? Sure, the problem is that before you could turn it off. Try walking anywhere in a city without having to stare to a bloody medium…Mr. McLuhan would be not pleased.

There was a time when an advertising campaign was so unique, honest, so inspired and dare I say it, brilliant that just seeing it once, just once was enough to make you think and maybe, just maybe give the brand a chance. Yes, these are very strong words indeed. David Ogilvy, considered by many as being one of the most instrumental fathers in the world of advertising would be appalled to the level at which the advertising has taken the world as it tries to sell repetition over fact. One of my favourite quotes of his – if perhaps a bit dated – is “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.” He was referring of course that an educated consumer would choose a brand for what it factually claims it can do over the image it portrays it can do. Another example, do you think wearing Juicy pants will make you slim and hip only because it is endorsed by a another by-product of our advertising crazy society: the celebrities? Not if your hips are size 18. But hey that’s not a problem anymore. Why tell kids –particularly little girls- to eat healthy when is cheaper to hire larger sized celebrities to endorse your products? The only difference is that is has been done slowly over a long period of time, but if you really pay attention you will catch it. See the difference in between now and lets say five years ago and you will know what I mean. Or why not even up the ante? Why just not resize the size of clothing altogether to adjust to fatter people? You used to fit on a size 4? Well, not since 2004, now you are a size 0! Just like that. The same thing has been done to the fellas. Yes, just like that. I feel magic in the air! But why believe me? When you can read it for yourself on this article from the New York Times: Here.

But hey, there is always hope, so what if you we are getting our brains Laundromat-ed (at our own expense, of course) by advertising? Just go buy some shares in some global company and not just hear about the Owners Club. Be a member, be an owner and feel the power! Just don’t expect to be treated like one.

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