Our Dumb Century: More Marketing Dont's

The company that owns 90% of Phoenix's malls uses this tagline for its brand:

Nirvana for the passionate shopper.

First, although it sounds nice and new agey and calming, the biggest mistake here is using the terms passionate and nirvana together in the same sentence. Nirvana is the complete absence of desire (in many Buddhist traditions); passion epitomizes the most intense expression of desire—now, desire to the point of suffering, the complete lack of an object leading to the near destruction of the self.

Nirvana itself encompasses many ideas, but among the most important are senses of "extinction" and "extinguishing." Nirvana is the end of the cycle of birth and rebirth.

Shopping, on the other hand, is typcially evidence of the perception of lack: there is something we need and we go out in search of it at the mall. Both "needs" and "wants" are expressions of desire and therefore of lack: in order to experience desire, we must first perceive the absence of something within ourselves. For example, I frequently perceive the lack of shoes in my closet.

A person who has achieved nirvana would be the opposite of passionate and would have no desires, thereby extinguishing any need to go shopping. This slogan, then, implies that entering one of Westcor's spaces will cause the shopper to experience the extinguishing of their desire to spend their money, making its own existence paradoxically obsolete.


  1. Hey, did you see the link on my blog a while back, about the giant new 4-story brothel in Berlin(they're building it specifically to handle World Cup crowds)? It's called The Artemis. Yep, the virgin huntress who turns dudes into stags to be gobbled by dogs when they so much as see her naked.

    This also reminds me of a product I've seen advertised--can't remember if it was a book or a little sand and rock garden. The tagline was: "It's Zen--Without the Wait!"

  2. A mighty enlightened thought.

    On that note, I'd like to ask more of your brain. I let you know, but how do you feel about Rachel Zucker's The Last Clear Narrative?

  3. Em, I've been looking for a way to achieve Zen without waiting. I'm too busy for conventional methods. ;)

    Erin, I loved TLCN—in fact, it's going on my list of best books I read this year. I thought the way she wove birth narratives with Holocaust imagery was shocking, haunting, and compelling, and I enjoyed the way the book was laid out and presented to the reader. It's definitely a book I will return to because it's so richly done. What about you?