Marketing’s Altered States
by Cheryl Swanson

Trends for the projectable future reunite us with the myths and fantasies from which we’ve become disconnected in our sleep-deprived “Survival of the Fastest” era. Designers and entertainers are drawing increasingly from a deep well of human myth … i.e. Norse, Celtic and Arthurian legend, to create brands and entertainment targeted to consumers whose personal lives are devoid of mystery, awe and magic. These alternate realities harness iconic imagery to distract us from our technologically harried lives.

WB-TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a precursor to this trend. The show spun off Angel. The new TV heroine is Sara Pezzini, the supernaturally gifted detective of “Witchblade.” The overwhelming success of “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” with adults, as well as kids, indicates a cultural fascination with the unknown, a yearning for escape and a poignant, utopian idealism of good vs. evil.

According to Dr. Joseph Pearce (a professor of literature) in a recent New York Times article, “There is a deep disquiet among people today that stems from the artificiality of modern life. Some people dream of a society free from machinery and technology, one that stresses human relations … an over reliance on cell phones, pagers and computers is, to some extent, breaking down the bonds between people.”

Toniq noted three years ago, “connection” has become a technological rather than an emotional promise.

Myths and legends are our shared connection, uniting us across time with earlier and future generations. They are borne in our subconscious, based on archetypes of human dynamics, and live through the generations in our collective psyches, what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. In the past, this human lore was communicated through stories … today these stories have a visual narrative, distilled to their iconic essence for use in brand communications.


Cheryl Swanson is a Principal of Toniq LLC, a brand strategy firm dedicated to building Brand Effervescence©. Visit www.toniq.com .

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