Hey Thermador: Are You Really "Lighting a Fire Under the Status Quo"?

The New York Times, Sunday, October 16, 2011. Section 1, page 25, full page ad for Thermador ovens:

"Lighting a Fire Under The Status Quo."

Ad copy:

"With up to $5,747 in savings don't just transform your kitchen. Transform how you cook during our one-two-free sales event."

Really? Really? 

Who wrote this line? 

With people rioting in the streets they're talking about changing the world by buying an oven?

Last night on "Saturday Night Live" they ran a skit making fun of the programming on the Lifetime Channel.

The skit was a mock game show. The prize for winning the game show?

"You've won a Volvo filled with groceries!"

There was a time in modern American history when women revolutionized their worlds by buying appliances. Because it really was a huge deal to go from doing all the housework by hand to having a machine help.

But now is totally not that time.

When we used to visit my mother's parents in upstate New York we used to sit at the dining room table cracking sunflower seeds. The little black shells littered the table. And on Shabbos (Sabbath) we would argue and debate over everything.

Basically my father would get into it with everyone, talking his fancy talk.

And my grandmother would say, 

"A-lex! Come on! That is just a bunch of bulls***t!"

I have to laugh when I think about those crazy family scenes. My dad the salesman. My grandparents the straight shooters. Everything about their cultures was a total clash.

When I was growing up my mother always said, 

"Look at me! Look in my eyes. Are you lying to me? Because the one thing I can't stand is a liar."

I look around today and I see my friends getting more socially active. Me too. We are getting fed up with all the lies, the misleading statements, the fancy dances around whatever the honest truth is.

Maybe in the past we were happy to sublimate our activism by buying things. After all we couldn't challenge things much at work - you're there to contribute, not to be a rabble rouser. And we couldn't challenge things when it came to religion - we were "just girls." And with the kids and their education, well, you're not the education expert, are you? And on and on and on. 

Life is just too busy to be a social activist most of the time.

But something very fundamental is changing. We are waking up from our prolonged slumber. We are sitting in the backseat of the car and see that our parents may be seeming to drive, but are actually driving the car toward a cliff. Too close to the edge.

I don't blame Thermador for trying to get people excited about its ovens. I just think they're wasting their money on that full-page ad in the Times.

The people hiding in their plush creative war rooms on Madison Avenue are out of touch with what's happening in real life. Whether those protests in Zuccotti Park are organic or engineered or a little bit of both it doesn't matter. Whether the Tea Party is similar to them is irrelevant. The fact is that these street actions are like sparks, and the discontent they are touching on is an uncontrollable fire. 

Although most people aren't looking for trouble, they also can't hide behind ultra-expensive ovens anymore when they're faced with the real issues affecting our lives.

If you want to know what moves people, get out on the street or sit at the Shabbos table shucking sunflower seeds. 

Even if you want to sell people on a fantasy, you learn a lot more about how to reach them by being real.

Have a good day everyone, and good luck!


Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, www.AllThingsBrand.com and www.DannielleBlumenthal.com, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.