Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who's writing this?

‘Does the main character scream to the director, cut!? Does he yell at the producer to change the scene? I AM the writer, this is my show, this is my remarkable story.’ (Isaiah 45:9;12 RSV)

I happen to like commercials. I know this is a bit strange. As a matter of fact, my good friends back in Chicago give me a pretty hard time about this. That said, I think that good and clever marketing should be applauded. I love funny or ingenious ideas to try and get us consumers buying their product. Ultimately, I think it is what separates competing brands. Michael Jordan is why I grew up wearing Nikes and drinking Gatorade. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy driving a VW these days. And it actually explains why I really don’t like Under Armor stuff at all.

One of the biggest marketing competitions out there is in the arena of alcohol. All of these companies warn that their product should be used responsibly, trying to separate themselves from their calloused competitors. When in reality, they want you to consume as much of their product as you possibly can and probably could care less how responsible you are with it.

Alcohol ads are funny – both literally and figuratively. Think about some of the funniest commercials you have seen. My guess is that a fair amount of them are selling beer. They are also funny in the marketing way you were warned against as a kid. It’s always really cool, or funny, or attractive people that are consuming their product.

My favorite these days? All of the hard alcohol ads. Apparently, guys, only true gentlemen drink hard alcohol. They are in fancy dining halls and immaculate tuxedos, or at least suits. Who knew all I needed was to go down to the local grocery and pick up a handle, right? Surely, if I just had a fifth of my favorite liquor, I’d be set.

While watching a game last night one of these ads came on. Some good-looking dudes in black ties walked outside with some very attractive women. They escorted the women into the back of a cab and signaled for the driver to take off. In the background comes a voice…

‘There’s no point in writing a remarkable story if you don’t know how to end it properly.’

Now, I have no idea what happened in their night. One could try and put pieces together and make some educated guesses. This alcohol company is basically trying to say, use our product to have a great night but don’t be stupid and get us in trouble. That would be a terrible story. Just take a cab home. Ok, those are my thoughts on what they are saying, but I’m pretty close.

As you can imagine, this caught my ear. I love stories. I really love remarkable stories, and this line had me thinking. Is that it? Is all we need to drink alcohol with pretty people to write a remarkable story? Surely there is more than just that. The remarkable stories I have seen involve conflict and character development, triumph and struggle.

A common thread in great stories is an author that is outside of the story itself.

One who knows the characters.

One who has their best interest at heart.

One who ultimately knows the best way to take.

And this is exactly where I struggle. I look at the TV ad and laugh. Surely a good story has more than just good looks and alcohol. Yet these are the exact stories I choose to live on a daily basis.

Stories on my own accord.

Stories where I am the author; creator.

Stories, ultimately, without real purpose.

But there is hope. In the midst of this struggle we have an Author that is chasing after us. An Author whose story is beautiful and redemptive. An Author that truly loves the characters he is helping to direct. An Author who is beyond us and yet chose himself to become the protagonist in his own work.

You see the commercial is all wrong. It’s not necessarily our responsibility to know how a remarkable story ends. No more is it our job to know than the characters in your favorite movie, during the first twenty minutes.

Our job is to continue trusting in the Author; believe that he works all things for our good (Romans 8:28) and for what is good in his eyes (1 Samuel 3:18). Trusting that being a part of his Story is ultimately what is best for us.

What’s most ironic about the alcoholic product is that a good story probably wouldn’t start with their beverage. And it certainly wouldn’t bring about the best kind of endings. No, no product can do that. Great stories are original. Great stories are only written by an Author who loves it’s subject – not just trying to sell them some drinks.

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