I was sitting in Dunkin Donuts this morning, writing my blog about depression (this very one you’re reading), when the commercials being pumped through the room mention how happy Dunkin Donuts products make you. Interesting…but nothing worth thinking about. Then another add comes on, “You know that person that’s never happy? everybody does…”. The add continues to describe two coworkers complaining about a third coworker being “grumpy” all the time. More importantly, the solution is easy: Dunkin Donuts will make him happy, duh!
I know this seems trivial and in isolation it is. But Dunkin Donuts isn’t the only place we are bombarded with the message that A) We are not happy enough! B) You are Supposed to be more happy! and C) When you are slacking at your happiness job, improving your happiness quotient is simple and easy. These are very inaccurate and misleading to any human and downright dangerous for someone who may already be struggling with these ideas.
I’m not trying to pick on DD. That’s just where I happened to be when I was writing my blog. Here’s a few other examples:
In the Mad Men Don Draper explains, “Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” And really every message we get from adds on TV, in magazines, on the radio, are all promising happiness in one way or another. Again, in isolation these individual messages probably don’t mean anything, really. But when someone already feels like they aren’t as happy as they’re supposed to be–That something’s wrong with them, these incessant messages can only make it worse.
The promise of happiness isn’t even the real issue (ads only exist to say a product is great and that’s not so terrible). The issue is the message that we are suppossed to be happy. We are not allowed to be unhappy or grumpy or a downer–The Sad-shaming.
The message that the solution is a new drug or a new car or a simple purchase is also dangerous and false. we don’t even need to get into a critique of capitalism or ethics in media to see how misleading people who have real needs can be an issue.
Ultimately, I don’t think Dunkin Donuts or any other corporation is maliciously preying on the mentally ill or anything like that. But I hope they catch wind of how their words affected me and how they may affect many other people and when it comes down to it, I have one question for any organization that advertises: If you have to make ads and it doesn’t cost any more money or time to make positive ads, why not focus on the positive points of mental health instead of deficit and Sad-shaming?
#DunkinDont #SadShaming #MemesAddUp
p.s. re: pictured adds above: as images, they are not long enough to convey the sad-shaming and the promise of happiness, so they focus on the promise.